Lamu community members used performances of taarab, a music genre popular in East Africa, to localize experiences of social, economic, and cultural change. Performers and audience members regarded their brand of taarab as distinct from elsewhere on the coast, basing such claims on a narrative of leisure-based performances and community entertainment, which they contrasted with the imagined fame and income of urban musicians. Lyrics intellectually grounded audiences’ experiences of living in a dynamic and externally connected society into local moral discourses and community intimacies. Lamu taarab has undergone significant transformations in recent decades, reflecting shifting economic structures, audience preferences, and patterns of work and leisure. Taken together, this article underscores the regional, national, and global processes that shaped local identity and cosmopolitanism.