Music

Brian Nadra on singing to stardom

nadra album

Brian Nadra's "Nadrenaline" album cover. PHOTO | COURTESY

Summary

  • Brian Nadra, a singer and songwriter, describes his music as “an urban sound from a smartphone era centered around a millennial culture” has just released his debut album “Nadrenaline”.
  • Nadra was named among stars like Sho Modjozi from South Africa, Nigerian Joeboy and Innoss'B from the DRC by BBC 1Xtra presenter DJ Edu in 2020 as having bright career prospects.
  • The album, “Nadrenaline”, contains eight songs that run the spectrum of genres, from smooth R&B to Afropop, hip-hop to rumba.

One of Kenya’s most exciting young talents has officially released his debut album that he and his label hope will propel him to international status after a few years of establishing his name on the urban music scene in Nairobi.

Brian Nadra, a singer and songwriter, who describes his music as “an urban sound from a smartphone era centered around a millennial culture” has just released his debut album “Nadrenaline” on the Decimal Records label.

He was among the five artistes from Africa named by BBC 1Xtra presenter DJ Edu in 2020 as having bright career prospects, along with other stars like Sho Modjozi from South Africa, Nigerian Joeboy and Innoss'B from the DRC.

Nadra caught the attention of the African music specialist because of his versatility as a rapper and singer with the ability to juggle a wide range of styles from R&B to reggae and hip-hop.

Nadra is part of a collective of singers, rappers and musicians, known as the Decimators including Bon-Eye, formerly of the group P-Unit, brought together by veteran producer Eric Musyoka under his Decimal Records.

They say they represent the “Nairobi New School.” “A few years ago, all you would hear on the streets of Nairobi was Nigerian music or Western pop, but children my age are the revolution with diverse musical styles and of course we use Sheng, the language of the streets to express ourselves,” says Nadra.

The album, whose title combines his name and the word adrenaline, contains eight songs that run the spectrum of genres, from smooth R&B to Afropop, hip-hop to rumba. The first single from the album “Kahora” which Nadra has previously performed to positive reviews, on Decimal Chronicles, a YouTube series with his label mates, is now officially available via streaming platforms. The video for the song, which features fellow Decimators KonKodi and Bon’Eye was officially released on YouTube earlier in the month.

“The inspiration behind the album was our desire to explore my talent in-depth,” says Nadra about the project with his producer Musyoka.

Musyoka who is one of the pioneers of the contemporary urban music scene in Kenya having established his credentials as a producer with Homeboyz Entertainment in 2003-2007, certainly knows a thing or two about spotting the next big thing in music.

“We aim to make Nadra an international sensation and keep the mantra of the label, that quality is everything,” says Musyoka who famously wrote the international hit “Ha-He” for Just A Band in 2010.

He says they set out to create an album that will have a legacy on Nadra’s career and to enable him to connect with fans in Kenya and around the world.

Nadra says the music was shaped by the range of sounds that he has been exposed to, from country to Afropop, Rumba, R&B. He grew up listening to his dad playing a lot of Koffi Olomide, Awilo Longomba and Brenda Fassie and it is such African stars that inspired him to pursue his interest in music.

Incidentally, the album starts with a rumba groove on “Chocolatte”a feel-good dance tune with an infectious guitar beat. “Pumzika” is a downbeat romantic R&B groove featuring up and coming female vocalist Kenana Mwasi.

There are other collaborations such as “Belly” featuring Nvirii The Storyteller, the singer and songwriter who is signed to Sauti Sol’s record label while “Kahora” the new single featuring label mates Bon 'Eye and Konkodi.

Nadra says East Africa is currently enjoying a musical rejuvenation with a fresh generation of artistes who are attracting global attention. Therefore, his choice of collaborators like Nvirii, Zzero Sufuri and Kenana is deliberate to showcase the emerging Kenyan acts who are pushing forward the future of African music.

“Listeners should expect to hear bigger and better from Nadra on this project,” he says.

“It is my inspired contribution in showcasing the best of what Kenyan urban flavor has to offer.”

Nadra got his big break in 2017 with the release of the hit singles “Leo” and “Matwana” both produced by Musyoka. The two singles gained him radio airplay and online streaming enabling him to attract to gain a following among music fans and the attention of fellow artists such as King Kaka who enlisted him for collaboration on Soma Lebo and “Far Away” featuring American star Cassidy.

The reception to Nadra’s debut album will determine if he will be catapulted to the global success that he was tipped for last year.