Genious music producer Cedo relaunches self as an artistFriday September 09 2022
What is the next career move for a production genius who has been a music director for the biggest contemporary acts in East Africa and created hits for the region’s biggest stars?
For Cedric “Cedo” Kadenyi, who toured the world as keyboardist and music director of Sauti Sol and has written hit songs for Nyashinski among other stars, the time has arrived to draw on his connections with the best talents across East Africa for an album that represents the diverse sounds of the region.
“I am launching myself as an artist. You are going to hear music that has been produced, directed and arranged by myself,” he told BDLife during a break from his rehearsals ahead of today’s official release of his debut album Ceduction.
The album features the who’s who in East African music with no less than 22 artistes across the 16 songs, including Kenyan stars Nyashinski, Khaligraph, Karun, and Trio Mio, Tanzanian sensations Rich Mavoko and Aslay, and Rema Namakula, and Lydia Jasmine from Uganda.
Even though he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in law from Moi University, music has always been at the core of Cedo’s life.
“To sell music today means you must understand the market and develop a business strategy, so my education has been critical,” he says.
“Just having the creative product today without understanding the consumer is only half the work done,” he adds.
Cedo has evolved from making music in the studio to touring with top artistes like his creative soul mate Nyashinski, an experience that made him realise that he could work with different artistes in the region without having them in the studio at the same time
He travelled to each of the three countries and recorded the artistes separately and then returned to Nairobi to fit each of the separate parts into a whole, and through trial and error, eventually, developed a formula for the entire album.
“None of the artistes who are featured on the collaborations met the other so I would exhaust all I needed to record in one country, before moving on to the next and trust that all the elements would fit when we got back to Nairobi,” he explains.
He is excited about Shots co-written with and featuring Nyashinski which was created by arranging different sounds like the chirping of birds, and the clanging of metals. The concept was to produce a song without melodic instruments but instead, arrange rhythm from a variety of sounds.
The collaborations integrate the best East African artistes into one project that from top to bottom reflects the different sounds from the region.
Coming Through is a song that brings together three of the biggest female talents representing the three countries: Tanzanian Maua Sama, Fena Gitu of Kenya, and Lydia Jasmine of Uganda.
“I wanted to create an anthem, that has some rumba vibes, so I made the structure, Maua was the first to record, then Lydia Jasmine recorded in Uganda and Fena did the final part and the chorus,” he says.
Where You go by Kenyan trio H_art the Band and Ugandan female vocalist Rema Namavula showcase the cultures of the region with lyrics combining Luganda, Kiswahili, and English.
Initially, Cedo wanted a specific identity running through the songs but when he realised that that was a challenge because of the difference in musical styles, then he decided to throw everything into a multi-genre mix spanning Afropop, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rumba. “You get the East African vibe in the music, but we are not stuck on one genre.”
Making the album across East Africa was a learning experience. While in Kenya, the artiste largely drives the project by choosing if they will work with a songwriter, for instance, in Uganda, they are very clear on the roles of songwriters, managers, and engineers and in Tanzania, it is ‘communal’ with different people each contributing to the overall production.
Artistes also have their idiosyncrasies, for instance, Tanzanian superstar Aslay, who appears in the song Goalkeeper, doesn’t write his lyrics at all. “He just listens to the beat and starts recording immediately,” says Cedo.
Naomba started with rapper Khaligraph writing lyrics about a man calling out for help to deal with life’s struggles, Arrow Boy created the chorus and then youthful performer Trio Mio completed the song.
In an era where songs are created collaboratively, each contributing artiste signs a split sheet agreement to earn their share from royalties.
“We have proper business agreements so that you not only have a good product but a good mechanism to ensure that everyone who needs to listen to that content can access it immediately," he says.
Ceduction is available to stream on all digital music platforms starting today.