Since Kenyan musicians have never declared their net-worth, the only prudent way to find out is going through the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) archives. As such, MCSK recently came up with a list of the top 10 wealthiest musicians in Kenya.
The highest paid Kenyan artists by MCSK and beneficiaries of endorsements, especially by the corporate, make this list. Other factors such as: number of live performances, CDs and merchandise sales and other related careers are also considered.
MCSK also pays registered artists royalties for music played by the media.
So here we go;
Jaguar has been in the Kenyan entertainment industry since its infancy and is one of the finest hit makers in the region. The Kigeugeu singer is also an entrepreneur with a portfolio that consists of a taxi firm, insurance company, garage and real estate. Jaguar was recently awarded by MCSK where he was amongst the artists who bagged millions at the event. He made headlines when he allegedly bought a plane - Air Jaguar - that appeared in his new video Kipepeo. He also owns several posh car brands like Bentley, BMW, Benz and Jaguar. Most recently, he was paid close to KSh1M after a single concert in Burundi.
He’s the Breakfast show presenter at One FM, Nairobi. Nonini is also a co-pioneer of Genge, which is a sub-genre of Africanised Hip Hop. He’s widely known as The Godfather of Genge. The artist has three studio albums that receive massive airplay on local media making him the highest paid artist by MCSK in 2012. When he launched the Colour kwa Face Foundation to fight for the rights of albinos just recently, the renowned Selif Keita endorsed him. Other corporate groups backing the project include: Safaricom and Standard Group.
His new song Nakupenda Pia featuring Alaine is one of the biggest hits of 2013. Wyre’s style is very unique as he fuses reggae and R&B to create massive hits consistently. He has released two albums and features in numerous songs by other established artists. He usually includes choreographed dances while performing his music on stage or in music videos. Most of his wealth comes from live performances, album sales and royalties. Wyre is also a judge at the popular dance show Sakata aired on Citizen TV and owns Love Child Records.
Born David Mathenge, Nameless burst into the limelight in 1999 during Capital FM’s star search. He has worked with Tedd Josiah of the now defunct Blue Zebra before signing with Ogopa DJs. Some of the hits that he’s released during his career include: Megarider, Boomba Train, Sinzia, Juju and Salary. According to the cheque he received from MCSK, he’s one of the most played Kenyan artists. He’s won many awards such as Kisima Music Awards (2004), Pearl of Africa Music Awards (2006), Channel O Music Video Awards (2007) and MTV Africa Music Awards (2009).
The talented singer is also a model and has worked with Kiko Romeo in her early years. She studied drama at Lewisham College, London and musical theatre at Kennesaw State University, Atlanta. On returning home, Habida worked with renowned producer, Robert ‘RKay’ Kamanzi and managed to flood airwaves with the single Sunshine alongside Nameless. Currently, her latest single Lights Up is ruling the airwaves. She has won several awards like the Best Video Award at the East African CHAT Awards, 2010. Apart from royalty payments, she still earns a lot from her modelling career.
6. Jua Cali
Although Juacali didn’t make it to MCSK’s top-ten list of the highest paid, he built an empire with Clemo - Calif Records. They also created a new localised rapping style known as Genge. Other pioneers of Genge were Nonini and Mahatma. In 2001, he penetrated the industry with his hit single Ruka. He has released three studio albums since then namely: Juacali Sekta, Ngeli ya Genge and TuGenge Yajayo. He was the first Kenyan artist to be endorsed by a corporate when he received a Kshs 1million-a-year deal from Motorola. He also signed a Kshs 10-million deal as the Orange Ambassador
In Kenya, Hip Hop artists usually don’t make as much money as their counterparts in other popular genres like Genge and Kapuka. This is with the exception of a few artists. When starting out, Juliani was a member of the Ukoo Flani Mau Mau group before he got saved in 2005 and pursued a solo career. He has worked with Kijiji Records, Kenya and a record label in the UK. He has also been endorsed by Google Plus. Juliani’s music touches important aspects of society in the realms of religion and politics. He has released two albums - Mtaa Mentality and Pulpit kwa Street. And most recently, he got a new job with Google alongside Churchill and Caroline Mutoko.
Even though most of his wealth comes from inheritance (as Jaguar used to claim when he was beefing with Prezzo), Prezzo is undeniably one of the top paid Kenyan musician. His hit song ‘Naleta Action’ that featured Nazizi reserved him a spot as a big name in the entertainment industry. He’s known for showing the immense wealth through his flashy music videos. He was also a contestant at Big Brother Africa (BBA) in 2012 but didn’t manage to win. Nevertheless, Kenyans were proud of him and he’s currently a ONE Ambassador.
9. Angela Chibalonza
The late Angela Chibalonza was born in Kinshasa, Congo and relocated to Kenya after graduating from high school. She had a powerful voice and used to sing in the choir. The artist has several albums under her belt including: Nikuabudu, Jina la Yesu, Mwisho wa Dunia and Ninapotembea. Her music is in French, Lingala, Luganda, Swahili and English thus sells across a wider fan base. Although Chibalonza was in the top-ten list of the highest paid by MCSK in 2012, she always insisted that she did music not for money but to minister.
The talented gospel artist is ranked #10 by MCSK with regards to the highest earning artists of 2012. He became popular after releasing the hit single Pamela, which topped many local charts for weeks on end. After that, he recorded several other songs with the current hit being Jubilation. Ringtone lives a flashy lifestyle and has a lot of assets. He tried his hand at politics in 2012 but didn’t succeed and ended up purchasing a Range Rover worth more than Kshs 7 million with part of the funds raised for the campaign.