Oct. 30, 2019

Album Review: Wakadinali's Ndani ya Cockpit 2 Is Indisputable

'Na ka una ngori enda studio na unidiss nani,

Nilimarry game ndio maana imeshinda iki miscarry.’

Off the back of the trio’s new hard-hitting single ‘Rong Cypher,’ I’ll dissect the sequel to their first studio album ‘Ndani ya Cockpit.’

Have you been living under a rock all your life?

This explainer is in case you’re unfamiliar with these indisputable real hip-hop emcees. Wakadinali aka RONG RENDE is a hip-hop trio from Umoja, Nairobi. The group consists of Sewer Sydaa, Scar Mkadinali, and Domani Mkadinali.

Originally released on digital platforms on April 2019, the 13-song project was executively produced by Aress 66. It features hip-hop acts Khaligraph Jones, Dyana Cods and hip-hop duo Timmy Blanco and Twenny Eights (TNT Kenya). Without further ado, let’s deep dive into the first listen:

Track 1: Ndani ya Cockpit 2 (Intro)

Rating: 8.5/10

Listening to this track and sticking true to its’ title, this 30-second intro features a conversation between the flight crew of a Boeing 777 and air control. Was I amused? Most definitely. I did not anticipate being thrust quite literally into the cockpit.

Track 2: Better Days (ft. Dyana Cods)

Rating: 9/10

‘Back to the latter, mi hukalia kiti moto kushinda ile ya IEBC.’

As a proper hip hop head and fresh off the Zoza Nation HBR Trap Lab Session, I hoped I was getting a hot 16 from Dyana. But damn! Her heavenly voice on the hook and the piano chords in the background were in perfect harmony. On this track, Wakadinali reflect on their humble upbringing and their struggle to make it in life while rapping about their hope for a better future.

Track 3: Like Uuuh

Rating: 9.5/10

‘Kutoka tene ni scuba diving ndani ya taxi,

Siku hizi siko chini ya maji,

Na Uber drive na ki-taxin.’

Funny how I immediately started singing along to J Hus’ ‘Did You See’ when this joint came on. The riddim-inspired hook flavored this song the right way, and I couldn’t help but hum ‘Uuuh’ all through. I loved the second set of verses more than I vibed with the first set. Might it have been ’cause of Domani aka Mad Munga’s grime-flow at the start of this set? Certainly. This track is one of my favorites off the album, and you could feel it from the lengths gone into the production of this track.

Track 4: Moja Safi (ft Khaligraph Jones, Timmy Blanco & Twenny Eights)

Rating: 8/10

‘Ka una plan, we tu nipigie call I’ll come,

Na Covfefe hizi beats kama Donald Trump.’

I could hear Ukoo Flani’s Wenyeji influence on this Big Beatz Afriq-produced track. From the bridge between the contemporary flow and hood rap on the Wakadinali verses to the braggadocious bars by the TNT duo, I wouldn’t mind listening to this a couple of more times. Khaligraph’s verse at the end of the song was a bit underwhelming at first. This disappointment stems from my expectation that it would have been longer. I would also have loved it being in the middle of Timmy’s and Twenny’s verses. Regardless, the bar-filled verse was super catchy, and it ended up growing on me eventually after a couple of listens.

Track 5: Mtoto ni Mrembo (ft Timmy Blanco & Twenny Eights)

Rating: 7.5/10

‘Naroga mpaka waganga washaninyima portion,

Mistari ill, mizani kwa game, utadhani concoction.’

What caught my attention on first listening to this track was the arrangement of verses in this song. The track has a set of four verses. The Wakadinali trio has a back-and-forth on their verses. You won’t notice that they switch flows severally between themselves if you aren’t a sucker for details. Timmy and Twenny came through with their airtight cadence, and they would forgive you if, for a minute, you thought that they featured Wakadinali on this joint. The trap beats on this track just felt like icing on the cake, and it sure is a bop!

Track 6: Ni Hivi Ama Ni Hivi

Rating: 7/10

‘Juu ya vyenye natunga essay ni ka assassin,

Cause ni ka naenda SA kuface AKA.’

Just like on Moja Safi, I also could hear a ‘Hip Hop Halisi’ sample on this track that features production from Big Beatz Afriq. On my first listen, I must admit that I only felt that the hook was pretty catchy. I wasn’t impressed with the bar-riddled verses from the trio though. Could it grow on me in the future? Possibly.

Track 7: Mangana Manangos

Rating: 9.5/10

‘Just in case hujajua, hapa just mind your business,

Si tumetoka mainstream kama river iko na leakage.’

Having listened to this track before getting into this project, I must admit to being a little biased to one of the lead singles for this project. Wakadinali once again proved why they command respect amongst their peers. They even allude to their difficulty in gaining mainstream success. Undoubtedly, one of my favorites off ‘Ndani ya Cockpit 2’.

Track 8: Starehe Ndani ya Roho

Rating: 8/10

‘Anasema ndio awe mine, nisake hela,

So mi nagrind ni ka kushikisha kangeta.’

Are you itching for the slightly softer song on the project? Wakadinali got you! On this track, the trio explores not only the peace but also the struggles presented by their new romantic relationships. I loved how relatable this song is. The song speaks on a theme that almost everyone has gone through at some point in our lives.

Track 9: Ume Tii

Rating: 9/10

‘Walio mjini, mtajiju,

Huku kijijini, dunia bado ni msitu.’

I don’t know where to begin with this track. Should I start with the heavy 808’s or the piano harmonies and chords? This joint is a production masterpiece! On this track, Wakadinali come for all their haters while demanding respect for their unmatched lyricism and flexing on how great life is at the top of the rap game.

Track 10: Zoza Zoza

Rating: 9/10

‘Hip Hop ni sick, propaganda is for the rest,

We can’t keep up with the Kardashians like the rest.’

Just like when I listened to Better Days, I expected that Wakadinali would go hard on this track, seeing that the track title is Zoza Zoza. And they did not disappoint with the bars! A lot less Sheng’ in their raps and a bit more English is a welcome relief (for some I must add) and a breath of fresh air into the album. Most certainly another favorite from the project.

Track 11: Sitafadhali

Rating: 8.5/10

‘Sijawahi tense kama kuna ngori inakuwa,

Thug face, RONG RENDE, ni ya magorilla tu.’

You didn’t automatically sing along to J Hus’ ‘Bouf Daddy', Then you need to get musically schooled! Mad Munga showed off his unique storytelling abilities while Domani and Sewer brought the imagery and lyricism. Wakadinali were heavy in their bag with this record and its’ a proper treat for the real hip-hop heads.

Track 12: Eastlando

'Eastlando ni vitendo,

But n****s they playing like Nintendo.’

This joint is a tribute to where the trio grew up, which is in Eastlands, Nairobi. My favorite verse is the trio’s back and forth set at the end of the song. It took a couple of listens to dissect who in particular dropped each bar. It was amazing to see them going head to head against each other in such a competitive space.

Track 13: Ndani ya Cockpit 2 (Outro)

Rating: 8.5/ 10

The 1-minute outro closes off the project just like it began; inside the cockpit quite literally.

Overall album review

Rating: 8.5/10

Throughout the listening of this project, I couldn’t help but notice the smooth transition from one song to the next, not only musically but also sonically.

Download and listen to this project here.