Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lucius Banda and the 15 Conundrum

Well, Lucius Banda’s "15/15: My Song" album is a conundrum, not that it is his best, according to me that is, but because it has brought more debate than any of his 14 earlier albums.
My number 1 best album from Lucius is ‘Yahweh’ and second is ‘Survivor’ I will not tell you why today because we are discussing "15/15: My Song". The pen felt left out in the debate and would now try reflecting and drumming out a number of issues related to the album.
To start with, Lucius Banda is one indecisive artist. Before his "15/15: My Song" album he mentioned two things that I would want to return to, in case he has forgotten.
Mid last year, before this album, he declared that he would go traditional and part ways with reggae. He proclaimed that his trademark would now be songs like the ‘Zulu Woman’ found in his ‘Freedom album’.
Now tell me if "15/15: My Song" is replicating the Zulu Woman track.
He also said he had taken his time in coming up with "15/15: My Song" but the person he entrusted with the production of the album Majumi 'Maj Beatz' Gondwe disappeared with his finished work.
On December 4, last year the Prof. tracked down Majumi and asked him why he could do such a thing and this is what he replied: “I did not disappear; Lucius knows how to reach me and how much it will cost to get his music. Plain and simple. They say in business be men. Matter of fact, my number is on my facebook profile so, even the media should know better than to print just anything, just because it came from a celeb.”
You would have expected Lucius to take the matter further had Majumi really disappeared as it were.
Now you are wondering why I am talking all about this, well, ever since the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) decided to give Lucius Banda free advertisement by banning his music on their two radios, which has all over sudden catapulted his sales, a lot has been said.
Other people say Lucius Banda’s “15/15: My Song" is his worst album or is a flop and therefore it should not be selling like a hot cake as it is doing now.
Others are in between, on one side acknowledging that there are some good songs in the new album on the other, feeling that it is one of Lucius' worst because they say, he tried to copy stuff from American Hip-hop and in the process, it spoilt the Lucius they know.
These people could not believe their ears that Lucius could sing, "I will blow your brains out" which they find laughable.
While others are counter arguing that this album is like most Lucius Banda albums, ‘witty and all that’ others think, liking Lucius Banda’s "15/15: My Song" depends on how you read music – although the feeling that some songs were rushed cannot be divorced.
In his own words, this is Lucius’ all; Life, music, challenges, successes, failures, children, wife, history, politics etc.etc
Well what I know is clear, it is still the question of music and politics; are they separable? If they are not, is it a crime to tow a particular political line?
Lucius himself confessed that the initial "15/15: My Song Album" that he was producing with Majumi Gondwe was an explosive work of art, meaning, it would have captivated those that think he rushed this album.
However, for those that discredit it by looking at its political aspect then they must be strangers to Lucius’ albums. Ever since he started producing musical albums, always a single track imitates the ‘reggae dub poetry’ approach. Those that listen to a lot of reggae like the Professor, will agree with me the Linton Kwesi Johnstone, Mutabaruka, Onuru, influence in these songs.
In ‘Take Over’, he in fact copied the introductory trumpet like swirl of Bunny Wailer’s song called ‘Sound Clash’ found in his album ‘Gumption’.
What is offensive in the track "15/15: My Song" is the political jibes that has not spared the ‘ruling’ ruling and the ‘opposing’ ‘ruling’.
Let me take you back to lyrics like “When I move around the streets of Blantyre and Lilongwe all I can see are children saying ‘Nthandizeni bwana’, when I get home I sit and wonder poverty alleviation is not for the poor’...I am not afraid to say that this nation is still undemocratic . I have not seen democracy all I see is hypocrisy,” this is a line in ‘Take Over’ this was before he became former President Dr. Muluzi’s protégé and he sung against Muluzi’s rule.
“Fear no evil, let evil fear you, defend your democracy. We will survive, what is you? Who are you? What can you do that they did not do? We will survive you” this is Lucius in the album Survivor when he was arrested; ... I have seen those that are well connected being pardoned...” Cell 51 album.
As you can see, Lucius has just been the old self in "15/15: My Song" album, which has a predictable tracks structural arrangement. The title track is the one that carries the biting message and always dished out in a reggae-dub-poetry way.

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