From Nairobi to the Concrete Jungle

Simon Kimini, also known as “Bamboo”, is a well known Kenyan rapper. His parents are of East African descent. Although he was raised in Inglewood, California he is still a rapper who represents Africa. When Bamboo was 17 years old his parents sent him to Nairobi. There, he was able to obtain a record deal with his group K- South. As his success was growing in Nairobi he created a record label called Project 254 with Attitude and Tim Waindi, who are also well known Kenyan rappers.

Bamboo currently lives in New York City. The change from Nairobi to New York did not only require a physical change. It called for a change in his music as well. When listening to his music you will find that his songs contain American and Kenyan content but this content is delivered in an American accent. Many people had mixed emotions about his music changing in this way. When asked about his music being in English and his American flow he said “Rapping in English is the only way to infiltrate the US rap game and get respect because without that respect no one will even bother with you.”

In his song “Foreigner” you can hear him rapping in English with an American accent and flow. Bamboo speaks about living abroad and being respected on both sides of the pacific. You can hear from his music and see from the big “LA” tattoo on his arm that he has embraced the American culture.

“Me, I been living abroad for too long. Time for me to pack my bags and go home.”

Although he has embraced American culture, he has not forgotten where he has come from. He speaks about Africa and sending money back to his people. The lyrics in his song switch from English to Swahili. Although his music is in English, he’s still showing his pride in his country.

Bamboo is a perfect example of diversity in the rap industry between countries. He has shown that it is possible to cater to both his Kenyan and American audiences. His music proves that an artist can continue their career in another country and still maintain and embrace their culture.


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