Asides Camp Mulla, SautiSol has been one of the biggest music and cultural exports from Kenya to achieve pan-continental success and acclaim. Their earnest music and willingness to experiment with sounds that other Africans looking for that ‘hit song’ would never touch. They’ve toured the continent, won awards, done the whole shebang. The Sautisol motto seems to revolve around promoting and celebrating blackness, Africanness and women; all themes that desperately need attention. However, it seems we might have judged Sautisol as one of the good ones, a bit too soon. Or at least we shouldn’t have pegged them as above doing stupid things to stay relevant if their new song with Patoranking is anything to go by.
Their new single “Melanin” features a guest verse by Nigerian dancehall artist and semi-active supporter of women’s rights (if you haven’t heard ‘No Kissing’, you should, and listen carefully to its lyrics). The group suggests that song, and accompanying music video celebrates ‘melanin’ and dark skin and wants to promote self love. But the lyrics of the song and the accompanying music video are anything but. First of all, there are no women in the entire music video that aren’t sexual props or passive love interests. Not a single one. Every single woman in the video is airbrushed to perfection and all are that racially ambigious olive skin tone that suggests a little ‘something extra’ genetics wise. The women in the music video prance around in bikinis or even ‘tastefully naked’ as they leer at the camera with slitted eyes. It could be empowering, but to who?
Sautisol take shots at socialites in the song as well, contrasting their ‘perfect’ melanin girl against the socialite, who apparently is bad because she is famous. The group sings about wanting to sleep with the supposedly perfect melanin girl, the only incentive she is offered is the fact that they dont kiss and tell.And those are the only sexist tropes you notice on your first watch.
I’m really struggling to understand how a video by dark skinned Kenyan musicians celebrating dark skinned women have no actual dark skinned women in it. Remember the video was shot in Kenya where there are hundreds of thousands of women with skin as dark as soot and no less beautiful. The women could have been clothed, they could have been shown during empowering things, instead of lurking around waiting to pawed by one of the Sautisol men.
It is so tiring to have to explain that there are better, smarter ways to sell sex. You can sell sex while making both characters equal in the chase. I am dead tired of lazy song writing and music videos that try to spin buzzwords into cash.