Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Suffix & Faith show Boldness in tackling tribalism

The timing to issue the song Yobwata by Suffix and Faith Mussa would not have come at the right time considering that this is voting time and it is not a secret that the politicians have managed to polarise the country by flashing the tribal card.

Before I can comment on the boldness in lyrical package of the track, I want to point out that this sounds like a sequel of the 2016, release Mkazi wa Kumwamba, where Suffix and Faith also talked of how tribalism weighs in when it comes to deciding who to marry.

Now the track which has video with actors depicting what parents pump in the minds of their young ones when it comes to issues of tribalism before putting out there how tribalism is perpetuated.

Ndimachokela ku South yao, lhomwe, Sena, tribe - Ndili ndi ma reasons omveka omwe sindikondela mtumbuka ndi ma guys a pa centre apa.

A Tumbuka kuzimva.

Goes one of the lines in the track, it also mentions cultural beliefs as one aspect that promotes tribalism where issues of dowry are questioned by one tribe over Chikamwini where a man goes to a wife's home once they get married.

The track suggests that the issue of education quota system is informed by tribalistic considerations. "Kukhwefula dala education system ife nkukhala ma victims" sings Suffix

The track which has been done in Hip-hop and pop fusion and according to the two artists, the motivation comes from a song by US artist Joyner Lucas titled I Am Not Racist, which is currently the hot issue there. 

In the Malawi case the track exposes it as a deep seated challenge that is only scratched on the surface. The track calls out on Malawians to do something about tribalism and stop pretending that all is well.

Suffix told The Nation that as someone from the Northern Region, he grew up hearing narratives that made him believe he could not trust people of other tribes.

When he grew up and became a devoted Christian, he says his perspective started changing as the Bible promotes love regardless of where one comes from.

The rapper said he hopes the song will help Malawians have healthy conversations about tribalism and how much it negatively affects progress.

Mussa told the same publication that tribalism is getting out of hand in Malawi and that it is time to deal with it. For him, he never thought he would live to see the day when people would be making a big deal about their tribes. Now Malawi has segmented everything into tribes.

He strongly believes that tribalism will make children grow up with hatred towards each other based on tribes yet they never wronged each other.

He also has a strong belief that music is one of the strongest tools in the hands of mankind as it penetrate walls, doors, borders and get to people the makers of such music never even meet.

The approach to use music to respond and try to resolve the malaise of a nation is one genius way of playing a part. Music should not only be used to entertain but to also correct the wrongs. The track does not mince words in the way it tells it as it happens, how tribalism is propagated and watered to become a beast.


Namadingo - Soldier Mashup 2 was spoilt

Patience Namadingo is trending. If it is not Malawians and Zambians mimicking his hit song Mapulani then he is releasing mashups. We have seen him collaborate with Soldier Lucius Banda in the part one mashup before Billy Kaunda and the Black Missionaries also came on the scene.

I have my misgivings for the second mashup and this is the reason this week I have returned to talk about Namadingo yet again.

When he first released the first mashup with legendary soldier Lucius Banda, I said musical innovationist Patience Namadingo nailed it because the production came as a pleasant gift to the music fraternity which also helped expose Mozy Moshu Shumba, the producer.

I had also pointed out that Soldier on one side and Patience on the other, was like a vocal contest that told us that Lucius has never been a wanderer in the world of music. He is leaving huge footprints and considering that the soldier’s journey is ongoing, his counsel can do a lot of good to those aspiring to achieve musical success in this country. I can say the same was the case in the second mashup.

Patience exercised tolerable discipline in his approach when he did the first mashup with Lucius and Billy. However starting with the Black Missionaries mashup he started getting excited. If he was not talking too much between switching to the next song, then he was overdoing the voices to a point of making it lose the original tune.

Right from the first track, out of the 19 short songs that are in this mashup, Moyo Wanga, Namadingo brings in the element of one of his tracks when he sings  Ngati Njuchi - Ng'wing'wi which is a put-off

The same would be said of the second track 'Wadidolola' which he really tried to be smart with the vocals - his biggest asset - to appoint where he almost lost it. After playing the third track, he speaks ' Soldier usathe mawu' to transition it into the fourth track Zidzayenda. Doing this track as well had Namadingo pushing his luck too far with unnecessary 'condiments'  'sindingathe kupitiriza ndekha nkhani inachitikadi.

He messes up the fifth track again Mphawi Uja, when he sings/talks 'Tibwerezenso pa umphawi' then he dives into Tumbuka before commenting that - tayimba Chitumbuka usapyse mtima soldier.

The ninth track Zakukhosi he unnecessarily adds his Mapulani element. The following one, he talks about TamTam buses, Lucky Dube before he comments: 'kuyimba zosiyana koma zokongola'. Track number 11 he comments at the end 'basi ma awo-awo akwana'.

This is just part of many cobwebs that have come into the second mashup which tells it apart from the first one.

The good thing is that Namadingo and his team have seen the reaction which when compared with the last mashups has not had the same impactful reception. He got so comfortable that he started spoiling the good cause.

Another good thing is that the mashup productions make up for the keepsake for the lovers of music. I have a feeling that when we do covers of original tracks, we need to do justice to them.

The first mashup that attempt was clear but for the second one I think there was too much disregard of this requirement to freshen up the latest covers of the old. 

The additional wording of asking Lucius Banda to sing in English to prove if he knows it or not was another distasteful. This is a legendary artist that everybody knows his capabilities and the comment was a misfit.

It is very clear that the in-between comments are spur-of-the-moment so much so that at the end of the day, Namadingo cannot account for them.

One good example, the Mablacks mashup which ends with Matafale's Nkhoswe, Namandingo sings: Nyimbo Nyimbo ithele pompa poti mwamvera, Tikumanenso part two, poti ibweera.

Now when you consider the announcement that the last mashup was Lucius part 2, you have your answers.    


Saturday, 6 June 2020

Bald head Jesus against Faith Mussa

On May 31st this Week and on a Sunday singer and musician Faith Mussa updated his profile picture which gave his fans the all new dreadlocked Che Muphuwa image.

For Faith he simply accompanied the picture with a few words saying '[I have] been posting too many old pics in the past few months... I guess it's time I reveal what's been hiding under the Hoodie'.

And oh God, over 1000 people reacted with close to 300 comments. Some condemned while others commended him.

One Wanangwa Ishbak wrote: Koma mbali ya uzimu sukuyenera kupanga m'mutu chonchi. Gospel artist ameneyo? Kapena ayi? (You are not supposed to do that with your hair from a spiritual aspect. Can that be a Gospel artist or not?)

Another question came from one Talune Tembo "Kodi Mwasiya kuimba Gospel?"(Have you stopped singing gospel[music]?) To which another commentator Daniel Mababa came with a rejoinder “walowela” (He is lost!)

For Roderick Phillipo his comment was "Vuto losokoneza culture/tradition ndi mawu a Mulungu. Mulungu ananena pati kuti ma locks si achikhristu?" (The problem of confusing culture with the word of God. Where did God say having locks is against Christianity?)

This was challenged by Cynthia Kaira who asked Phillipo: "Bible mawerengadi Inu?" (Do you really read the Bible?)

The two tussled over this as follows:

Roderick Phillipo: Owerenganu ndithandizeni ndi mawu oletsa locks (Thou that read help with the scripture that forbids locks)

Cynthia Kaira: Bible limanena kuti tisapote Tsitsi (The Bible says we should not plait hair)

Roderick Phillipo: Post the verse please. Actually not even a verse, but the entire chapter kuti context ya verse tiyimvetsetse bwino. And while we're at it shall we pick you apart based on what you have on your profile? There's a lesson in this question.

This was interesting indeed that The Daily Times screamed on its Entertainment page: "Faith Mussa’s hairstyle attracts mixed reaction".

He told the publication: “I just did it for a change really. I am tired of cutting my afro. I want some freedom with it. I knew some people will obviously bad mouth me for it but again, you know I can’t please everyone,” he said.

He also said he was loving the comments that people were making on the new hairstyle. The arguments and counter arguments took me to a track by reggae legendary Bunny Wailer called 'Baldhead Jesus'. The song begins like this:

Praise Him, praise Him
Praise Him, praise Him
Praise Him, He's the king of kings

[Verse 1]
I have never seen the image of a bald head Jesus yet
I have never seen the image of a bald head Jesus yet
He's a humble and dreadlock Nazarene man
Look in yourselves and try to understand
Why you've never seen the image of a bald head Jesus

[Verse 2]
All ye bald head Jesus followers start to fret
All ye bald head Jesus followers start to sweat
He said to follow Him and He will make thee fishers of
But you've just left the barber shop and gone back
And you've never seen the image of a bald head Jesus

[Verse 3]
There is no synagogue that was built by Jesus Christ
There is no synagogue that was built by Jesus Christ
He taught on the hill and in the valley
Performing miracles and didn't get no pay
No synagogue that was built by Jesus Christ

Give I the older time religion
Give I the old time religion
Give I the old time religion
For it is good enough for I
If it was good for Moses and Aaron
If it was good for David and Solomon
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
Then it is good enough for I

That's how far the song goes. Basically it challenges those that are pushing Faith Mussa to appear Gospel, to first remember that Jesus was a dreadlocked bearded son of Man. And now do those that are accusing Faith Mussa of not cutting an image of Gospel musician ensuring that we are able to see the image of Jesus Christ in them?

As Bunny sings: I have never seen the image of a bald head Jesus yet, so please leave Faith Mussa alone! Will you?

DNA confuses with UKANADZIWA

Last time I picked DNA, born Daniel Kaliwo, as one of modern musical acts whose music and I asked you to listen to his music and look at the aspect of creativity in terms of coming up with the tune, melody and lyrical package and delivery. Of course, there, I also observed that love theme is his common denominator.

Back in that June of 2017 when I wrote about this, I looked at DNA's two tracks called Mukandipepesele and Mpata. I had appreciated that DNA had put his golden voice to good use. 

Much as some of his lyrical lines would not hit you that much, but he compensated it well with a deeply well thought rhythm and harmonies within the creativity in the melody.

Over the period of he has also done Changa si Icho, Odala and last year's Madando nda liti.

What has compelled me to come and talk about DNA again three years later is not those tracks but his latest track Ukanadziwa featuring Bathro, which is also lyrically rich and makes him look an intelligent composer.

This is one track that sometimes makes one realise not to judge a book by its cover. He describes a character in the track that almost fits what he looks like. But what proceedeth out of his mouth separates him from such boys:

Chikundilepheretsa ine/ Kukulola iwe

Ndikhalidwe lako/ Likumandiseketsa

Kulikose ndingayende/ Ndikumaona anyamata

Zochita zawo /Chimodzimodzi za iwe/Atapota tsitsi m'mbali ameta

Atavala jean yong'ambang'amba

Kumanja kwawo atanyamula mowa ngati ndiwoyezetsa

Atanyamula speaker akusokosela/Sakhala pa rent amasungidwa

Moti atandipatsa mimba azandikana/Ine kumavutika

Ndiye kusiyanitsa pakati paiwe ndi iwo kumavuta/

Zoti ndimakufila ndizoonadi/Koma nzeru sunakhwime

The verse above explains it all. Basically it is saying that a woman is declining love proposal from a man she is deeply in love with because he is childish. He behaves like all the useless boys in town with funny hair styles; wearing torn jeans trousers; moving about with beers; playing loud Bluetooth music in townships.

This is well understood and you really cannot fault a lady who gives well-meaning observations that informs her decision not accept the man's love proposal.

What is confusing is this chorus:

Unakadziwa kuti mtima ndikumawuyika mmanja (If you only knew, I am carrying my heart in my hands)

Moti utati wagwa, uwutolayo ndiwake (That if it falls down, the one who picks it up will be his)

Ndikudziwa ndimakukana molumbira koma (I know I have sworn never to accept your proposal)

Sikuti upeze chifukwa choyendayenda ndiwena (But this should not be the reason for you to go out with others)

Chifukwa panopa inde ndikupewa kuvulidwa.kuyuzidwa ine (At the moment I am avoiding to be taken for a ride by just being used)

When you listen to music somehow you expect it to follow a logical ending. But the artists sometimes are cruel to their character by deciding how they want to leave things in suspense sometimes. It is apparently acceptable with fiction writers, but it's amazing for me how DNA has also used it in this track.

Here is a girl who will never give you an opportunity to date her because you are failing to grow up, meaning you are under her spell, waiting for your opportunity. Meanwhile she has told you with certainty that you stand no chance, but you should not go out there to date other women.

This leaves the man hanging, like what does this woman really wants? She doesn't want me, but on another hand she doesn't want me gone.

It is this dilemma reflected in the woman which she projects on the man that makes this track one of a lyrically pure artistic work. It has managed to pose like an abstract painting that gives you something to debate about. Is the song as plain as one would think or it is for everyone to pick a side and stick to it?

What a song! Listen it with ears people and tell me what you think.

Where is Piksy's Sendeza Genre?

We really have to give it up to Piksy, born Evans Zangazanga. Piksy and his friend Nicodemo real name Nicholas Mbonela plucked up unbelievable courage to come onto the music scene with their own genre they called Sendeza analysis through their Machitidwe a Atumwi or was it Sendeza back in in 2008.

The two, trading as Atumwi, decided to be Nthumwi Piksy and the other Nthumwi Nicodemo and got a reception so huge that soon everyone was of the view that they presented the local urban future with tracks like Chiphwirikiti.

But just before 2011, when Piksy ventured into a solo career and signed up to Nde'feyo Entertainment, he had parted ways with his partner.

Not many gave him the benefit of the doubt that he could make it on his own. Considering that the two first met in 2003 during the rap and raga competitions in Zomba before reuniting in Blantyre in 2005 when Mbonela was studying at Malawi Institute for Journalism and Piksy at Malawi College of Accountancy to record their first single Mzanga and several others that followed, those that doubted him were justified somehow.

Overtime Piksy has proven all the doubting Thomases wrong. His debut album Maso, as a solo artist, that included hits like Unamata, Yabowoka,  Ponya Mwendo, Zolapitsa, Kwakuya, Otinyoza, Moto Moto, Appetiser and Tribal Party was the testament that he was becoming a brand.

Around the same time, he also became Airtel's Brand ambassador, another huge validation that Piksy, who started out as a chorister at his church, Zambezi Evangelical Church, was to be taken seriously.

He started as a rap artist back to 2003, when he was a member of the hip hop outfit, Real Wise Crew and to show his resilience, when the group broke up the following year, he became a solo artist and recorded a solo work, Mwai Wina.

As a leading urban music rhymester Piksy, seemingly stumbled again when in 2013 he had to cut ties with Nde’feyo Entertainment for breach of contract. Apparently, he was supposed to release two albums and 2 DVDs within three years but ended up with just a single album and still no DVD.

He picked up himself a year later and formed what he called Langwani Movement Band and had told the media that he was assembling music equipment. Unfortunately, nothing is still heard of Piksy and the LMB.

What has made me discuss Piksy today is the that I came across his latest single Chonchobe where he is condemning lies some people peddle on social media. He took me back to the Sendeza days when his music obituary had already been written.

The respect that I have for Piksy is his courage with Nicodemo to introduce the Sendeza genre. In between, he also did Umakwana, of course other critics have said it failed the basic music tests as somehow it bounces off badly in uncoordinated tune - story for another day.

All I was wondering was why have we not asked him what happened to Sendeza. For me I think he has become mature, like old wine.

With his Chonchobe, he told the media that many people today pretend on social media where they will post photos and situations with the aim of making people think they are rich or are happily in love while the reality on the ground is completely different.

“Mboba Osaphweketsa/Game pamwamba osadekhetsa/Fans yavaya utsala wekha

Ukapusa sudzawapeza/Siukudabwa kumufila neba/Ndiyeno madolo aku pretender

Timawadziwa nde ndingo setter/ Kutinamiza they are doing better/Ukumva bwanji nthupi Chonchobe/Bwanji mwavala juzi/Chonchobe/Ma post timawaona mboba oh sorry

Timadziwa kuti mukunama koma chonchobe,” 

When I listened to the beat and the lyrics, I thought it is never the Sendeza analysis which as Atumwi, catapulted Piksy to fame. 

I have many questions. 

What informed them to come up with that genre? 

And what has become of it overtime? Was there an agreement that without Nthumwi Nicodema, Sendeza should not feature anywhere anymore?

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Covid-19 could do worse with Gigs

Amongst several things associated with politics, death makes the list. Darkness, disease, poverty and misery are the other associates of politics. Not surprising, the danger posed by Covid-19 to our politicians bears nothing.

Whereas for music, most occasions that it will be associated with death is when people gather for funeral rituals and of course dirges, politics has a different story. Otherwise music is associated with happiness in its fullness, exuberance, verve and the goodies are endless.

This is why the decision by the country’s musicians to defy the imposed restrictions and announce that they will resume live shows, is a bit confusing to me.

Yes, I know, the musical artists are hardest hit, but it is unbelievable for them to say they have made this decision in step with the actions by politicians who are holding rallies where more than 100 people gather.

They argue that this is a direct breach of government recommendation as a preventative measure against Covid-19 spread.

Chairperson of the group Wendy Harawa told journalists in Lilongwe last Tuesday that the musicians are simply following the example that their leaders have shown. Now this is trying to pull wool over our eyes because we know this is not their inspiration.

There inspiration is to support their livelihoods which is under threat ever since the ban was imposed. Where as in other countries like in South Africa, Government availed resources to cushion their misery in these times.

The announcement from musicians comes a few weeks after I had pleaded with Government to come to the rescue of the artists.

Let me go back to what I had written:

There is too much politics in the manner that this issue is being managed. I opined last time that it has been overtaken by political buffoonery where the Health Minister Jappie Mhango, ICT Minister Mark Botomani and Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi were thinking it was a political show-off oral treatise that leaves Malawians with more questions than answers.

Before President Peter Mutharika dismantled it, there was to much political clowning where a lot of money went into the ministers pockets in form of allowances not to mention their efforts to bribe the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police with money within the very political stratagem clearly exposing ulterior motives other than effecting the cause to a just fight against the pandemic, leaving out the most important aspects of the whole scheme against Covid-19.

I said then that this was why musical artists were left out. I said then of the importance to embarking on a mission to support several musicians to produce songs that will carry Coronavirus messages, if there were no free resources to help them.

With music I was of the view that if the ministry of sports and culture, looked after the music artists, it would really ensure that it also plays a role in the fight against Coronavirus by ensuring that it avails resources that can be used to produce audio and video pieces that can help in this war against Covid-19.

The good thing is that the fact that one of the crucial messages is encouraging people to stay at home, what it means is that if they are not glued to their radios then their eyes cannot be taken off their screens. What a better way of encouraging them to listen and watch artists they are familiar with.

If these Government officials have a hindsight in being proactive, they would by now, have crammed the airwaves with such music that even calling for a lockdown would have been a stroll in the park.

But Government, noticeably did not take heed and now the musicians have come out. Where I am not agreeing with them is making announcement without telling us about the ways in which the shows would not be a breeding ground for further spread of the virus.

I know the good music industry has been dominated by politicians, but I only hope they will use their music brain and not political brain to decide to restart live performances.



Gospel or no Gospel for Namadingo

On April 30 around 4:22 PM, singer and musician Patience Namadingo decided to let the cat out of the bag when he vehemently declared, that he is not a gospel musician as the country has been led to believe ever since he cut his musical teeth back in the days.

This is exactly what he wrote on his Facebook page:

“For the very last time the answer is "NO I am not a Gospel Musician. I am just

a Musician". It is my Job. I'm sure you also have jobs and they are not Gospel Jobs. I choose what to sing. The gospel is just another message I choose to share as I do my job. If you need a 100% Gospel Musician who only sings about Jesus in his Music then you have lots of them out there. I am not one of them. I also have other things I want to sing about. e.g. Love. Education. Girls & Boys Empowerment. Wealth creation. Good morals. People and all that contributes to the wellbeing of people in a society. If you are offended by such topics or u want a 100% gospel musician who mentions Jesus and God in every song he does. Then there are lots of them out there. I am not one of them. Make a screenshot. Tayankha Tayankha basi. Note: kwaofuna mtsutso monga mwanthawi zambili. your comment will not get our reply on this. #Not_A_GospelMusician.”

Many people are arguing that Namandingo should have made his point without lacing it with some arrogance and big headedness. Well, I think I have no problem in the way he has elected to communicate it because there are just too many tags with which we push down our celebrities. There is this feeling that we some how own them and they must not operate as they please!

If you have followed my musical columns from the Drumming Pen days, to date, you will appreciate that this is one of the subjects that I have written about extensively. In all instances, it is informed by my misperception on why others have to be gospel musicians while others have to be grouped as belonging to a secular genre.

But is there a secular of a gospel genre?

I remember on these very pages, some days past; I wrote about how people treated the late Geoffrey Zigoma unkindly. They accused him of gluttony owing to his failure to make a between being gospel musician and a secular musician.

Unlike Namadingo, I had argued them that the problem that was killing Malawi’s nascent music industry was that artists struggle to do something without knowing what they want to become.

Who is a Gospel musician? The one who sings Gospel music or the one who lives his or her life according to the Gospel?

Our musicians are often blinded by the narratives generated by the societies they live in. The so-called Gospel musicians are supposed to be pious in their conduct; thus, in what they say and how they live.

This is where the problem emerges from. If Namadingo decides today that he is not a Gospel musician, then the whole population goes to town accusing him of losing it to devil, who now discourages him from continuing with the ‘blessed’ missionary work.

I said exactly the same when I mentioned here that the society has changed Gwamba. He has been made to behave ‘Gospellike’ and, in the process, he has lost his art, of course not entirely but enough to be noticeable.

I am back to the very questions I ask when I talk about this; would we say Nangalembe was not doing God’s work? Is being secular pursuit of evil? Do we perhaps realize that God can try to change a person to follow His ways by perfecting the person’s social being by using music to do this? And obviously musicians would be involved to achieve this?

Billy Kaunda, Lucious Banda, Mlaka Maliro and Skeffa Chimoto? Are these secular or gospel musicians? Are they any better than Denis Kalimbe and his Ndirande Anglican Voice?

Do you now understand why Patience Namadingo is angry?

Monday, 27 April 2020

Govt. better avail resources for COVID-19 Music

The name Dorothy Shonga rings no bell to music followers in this country. It is because unlike Kell Kay, Tay Grin, Macelba, Janta, Suffix and Boy Hidden, there is nothing musical attached to it.
However, this lady has responded in proactive manner than Government officials by funding a musical production project to a tune of more than K3million to produce a song against havoc causing Coronavirus which has encouraging message to the people, currently in distraught.
With her generosity, she has managed to pool together all those artists mentioned above to come up with a tune they are calling Tigonjetse Corona which was released this week.
For long, I have written on these pages to try to interest government with music.
I have shouted myself hoarse just to at least convince Government to introduce music entrepreneurial courses into our technical colleges through Teveta. Apparently, everyone in this country is busy with politicking. Its sad that be it those involved with Tevet system or music leaders are busy licking political boots while those doing politics are busy lining up their pockets at the expense of the need.
It is the same case with the efforts to fight the Coronavirus. There is too much politics that even the managing of the pandemic has been overtaken by political buffoonery where the Health Minister Jappie Mhango, ICT Minister Mark Botomani and Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi now think it is a political show-off oral treatise that leaves Malawians with more questions than answers.
It is because of Malawi’s political clowning that the crucial players in these efforts to fight Coronavirus using other effecting means have been left out.
The Government is busy bribing the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police with money within the very political stratagem clearly exposing ulterior motives other than effecting the cause to a just fight against the pandemic, leaving out the most important aspects of the whole scheme against Covid-19.
This is why they have left out the musical artists. At least local Hip-hop artists Phyzix funded his own project to do a Coronavirus song, and so is Unicef which supported dancehall artist Sangie to do one.
I cannot emphasise enough on the importance of embarking on a mission to support several musicians to produce songs that will carry Coronavirus messages.
I know the politicians think drama is the best, but one thing with Covid-19 is that it is discouraging social proximity, which means those acting would have already defeated the aspect of social distance.
With music it would be a totally different case. It is possible to enter the studio, one person at a time to record a collaborative song, carrying important messages on the pandemic like the said track supported by Dorothy Shonga that I talked about.
One drawback though is that the video for the track, shows that the artists were very close and failed to observe social distance during the studio session. But this should not take us off the subject matter.
For once, I hope the ministry of sports and culture, that looks after the music artists, would really ensure that it also plays a role in the fight against Coronavirus by ensuring that it avails resources that can be used to produce audio and video pieces that can help in this war against Covid-19.
The good thing is that the fact that one of the crucial messages is encouraging people to stay at home, what it means is that if they are not glued to their radios then their eyes cannot be taken off their screens. What a better way of encouraging them to listen and watch artists they are familiar with.
If these Government officials have a hindsight in being proactive, they would by now, have crammed the airwaves with such music that even calling for a lockdown would have been a stroll in the park.
For once, can those that are serving us in government stop the political buffoonery and work for the better of the lives of the people?

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Covid-19 brings mixed fortunes for musicians

Singers and musicians will have different tales once Covid-19 pandemic is gone.

Local reggae rulers, The Black Missionaries and soldier Lucius Banda and the Zembani Band are hardest hit, considering that their biggest revenue haul comes from live performances. These come in form on corporate or self-arranged events across the country and sometimes across the borders, especially in South Africa and Europe.

Before, this was never the route that was commonly travelled to rake in revenue for musicians because they were making sales through the OG Issah outlets that were available then.

With the advent of ICT that consequently led into piracy, many artists cried foul and without any compensation of note, this led to opening up of so many avenues to sell and market music-wares, including live shows and digital sales.

The coming in of mobile phone connectivity first brought with it, the caller tune initiative, before smartphones offered internet access to marketing and selling music.

Just with some downloads and buying through different online platform, it opened up the floodgates for most international acts. Yes, in Malawi as well, more artists have invested in these markets more, although it is yet to be as lucrative as is the case in the West.

Malawi artists have even taken advantage of mobile phone transactions through mobile banking and mobile money technology and it surely and slowly is becoming the way to go, especially now that Covid-19 pandemic has come amidst us.

Elli Njuchi, released Extended Playlist (EP) titled The Book of Z. The same was the case with local hip-hop stalwart Phyzix, who has also released an EP called Gamba Season.

In just three days, Phyzix made over K1 million in digital sales using digital platform and more money is still trickling in. The same is the case with Elli Njuchi who has also made over a million after a week or so. If truth be told, without Covid-19 this kind of sale was going to be impossible in a normal sales day.

Others that have also decided to take advantage of the situation are artists like newly branded Nyago, formerly Trizah Titus, as well as Joe Kellz who have held live stream concerts through among other digital spaces, their Facebook pages.  

It is, therefore, disheartening that the Covid-19 pandemic has buried the big guns like Ma Blacks and Lucius Banda. It is high time management teams of these musical outfits started thinking outside the box and took advantage on the internet to not only make money but also stay in touch with their fans through live streaming performances.

While other artists continue to pray and hope for a miraculous end of the pandemic, other are finding ways and means of surviving and thriving.

I hope one day, sooner than later artists can learn from this situation to always have more than one means of selling one’s creativity.

Holding shows is good but it surely should not be the only way.

How many artists in Malawi have YouTube and Facebook channels to interact with their fans?

How many have built a fanbase on social media?

What about selling branded materials like T-shirts, caps and coffee mags just to name a few?

If you study the trend of international artists, you will notice that they do not only rely on one thing. They may do music as their only bread and butter but they serve the same music in different forms to different audiences.

Let this Covid-19 be an experience to wake up our artists to think outside the box.

Otherwise we cannot wait to see the majority of our artists back on stage as soon as this nightmare is over!  


Saturday, 11 April 2020

Time to pay attention to Elli Njuchi

At 19, Chifuniro Steven Magalasi, christened with showbiz name Elli Njuchi, is exactly where most of his peers would want to be, musically.

He is the 2018 best new act UMP awards winning singer/songwriter in appreciation of the track that catapulted him to fame: Illuminati. Or was it the award of best upcoming act? Or the 2018 UMP Awards Best New Comer? To me, it matters less, all I know is that there is an award in the bag and many more are coming to fill this bag to the brim.

Last year he made history in his musical career by being one of the youngest artists to star at the 16th edition of Lake of Stars Discovery held at Kachere Kastle in Nkhata Bay.

Now the young Afro pop and Reggae Dancehall artist has released Extended Playlist (EP) titled The Book of Z.

Ostensibly, there were plans to launch the EP with his newly set-up band – The Hive at Barbecues in Blantyre but had postponed it until further notice due to the COVID-19 scourge.

The EP has since been released digitally and his fans are now able to access it through mobile money and bank transactions.

What has compelled me to opine that perhaps time is ripe to start taking the young Njuchi seriously is the EP package that is unfortunately being sold online at a meagre K2000.

What makes part of the package are the seven tracks in the descending order: Zisunge, Zitheke, Zilu(ngamo), Zitaye, Zitatu, Zithe, and Z. As you will appreciate, the EP is called The Book of Z because all the songs in the musical collection has stories that start with the letter Z.

Then there are three cover pictures that have been artistically and professionally designed to really grab the international interest. There is a list of credits, there is an acknowledgement through what he calls Letter to Hive and finally the juggernaut is the booklet of Lyrics. Now this is what I call serious music project.

At his age, Elli Njuchi has done what established musicians only see in their dreams. They are always in a hurry to release an album without regard to ensuring that marketing and selling a brand goes with its attendant condiments that puts the work way above the rest in terms of quality and class.

What I also find the lyrics interesting is the fact that they help you to get into the brain of the young artist and appreciate that he thinks big when it comes to writing his music. While his peers will do a ‘kick and rush’ kind of work as they try to court fame, Elli seems to have decided to remain steadfast as his eyes are set on the big prize.

The track he is calling Zilu(ngamo) is in fact cries of an abused wife; the track Zisunge seems to be a dedication to his sister Yankho, encouraging her to aim for the future’s best; Zitheke, as he says through several interviews that this EP is full of stories of hard work and self-belief, this is the better song to demonstrate just that.

It among others, validates this hard-working belief through this line: Sititola chikwama ase timasoka; Ngati Sikuphula Tidyera Pamoto.  

This is the track where he is encouraging all endeavours to ensure that the youth are standing on their own; be it through piece works, businesses, hassling in the city or pursuing education. He encourages all to push until it works (Timaphusha Mpaka zitheke).

This EP will definitely help brand Elli Njuchi as a serious competitor in the music game, if it is not locally, he could as well break the international barriers. I declare that its indeed time to take Elli Njuchi seriously.







Suffix & Faith show Boldness in tackling tribalism

The timing to issue the song Yobwata by Suffix and Faith Mussa would not have come at the right time considering that this is voting time a...