Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Do we have DJs in Malawi?

Most of the readers of this page will remember that I have a colleague Limbani ‘LC’ Chaguluka who is so knowledgeable in as far as Malawi’s Hip-hop music is concerned.

I once asked him a question if at all in Malawi there is a music Disc Jockey or shortened to a DJ. Below is the response that he gave me:

“Friday following under 19 soccer games at Kanjedza Full primary school ground, in Limbe. I checked the time; it was exactly 4:15 in the afternoon.
Unconsciously I started rushing home to find Chayipa Hiwa’s musical show, still in its infancy. 
I re-tuned the MBC radio to get the best frequency, despite being the only radio station in the land. 
Father MC Song ‘I will do it for you’ was being played, then followed by Monie lovie hit single entitled ‘It’s a shame’. 
Chayipa Hiwa  who  was then  known in  showbiz  circles   as DJ Cha was one of the  DJ’s  then, acquainted and knowledgeable  playing  Hip hop  tunes seldom  in the years between  1988 to 1992.
Irrespective of being  called  DJ’s  then,  most of the radio  presenters  who took the initiative of playing urban and Hip hop songs , who included  Danny P(Daniel Phiri)  , The late Philip Mwala Moyo,  and Gerald Nyamacherenga,  did  not qualify to be called DJ’s in the first place.
The reason was basically that, they were not ‘turntablists’’.  A turntablesim is defined as the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using Vinyl turntable system or record player in simple expression. This art ultimately differentiates between a DJ and a music presenter.
Nevertheless, despite these short comings, especially in mixing the records  and using the DJ as their  title when hosting their musical programmes, Chayipa Hiwa, showbiz name  Dj  Cha, the late Phillip Mwala Moyo, and Martin Chilimampunga have to be applauded for taking the initiative of playing the first Malawian Hip hop songs.
The late Phillip Mwala Moyo show   ‘Nyimbo za Achinyamata’   changed the whole landscape  and propelled  Malawian Hip hop songs, which  took even 3 months  before you could listen to one on MBC  radio.
Mwala Moyo, I recall was the first Dj/Presenter   to play one of the first Malawian Hip hop songs on radio in the land back then.
Tapps Bandawe’s  song   " shuwa magaye mabebi  nonse “  line,  still resonates  in  my head   when I first heard  the record   back  then, while I was still in elementary school.
It was unheard of for a song of that nature to be played on MBC radio in early 90’s.  Then slowly  Malawian hip hop songs started  flooding the airwaves , masterminded and  orchestrated by  the late Mwala Moyo , who once again needs to  be applauded enormously  for   start of the  long walk of this genre , which is mostly ridiculed  as noisy and senseless  by most people,  who are not able to understand  the poetry ingrained  in these songs.
Of course,  it would be difficult  to defend  the state of  hip hop today ,as the culture has been invaded by  corporations and other entrepreneurs,  who   have  more power  in changing the direction of messages in the songs to promote their own agendas, primarily which is making profit  over  the essence of  the songs .
DJ Danny ‘p’ showbiz name Daniel Phiri played his role as well in promoting songs done by Mzuzu Rap group   Boyz Layz   who made their impact, driven by UNICEF’s   Aids awareness campaign targeting the youth.
Talented lyrical genius Criminal-A   song titled “Guess who is back” was instant classic. The song was a regularly on ‘Nyimbo za Achinyamata’ as it was way ahead of its time in terms of lyrics and production.
Ten years down the line, year 1999, finally Malawi has a true DJ.  Yes, I am referring to someone who can be creative with sounds, breaking and scratching records to produce the unique sounds accustomed to Hip hop.
The Dr was scratching and mixing records at will, a talent which is not common among presenters or the so called DJ’s.  Gwynz aka Dr Gwynz did set a benchmark for DJ’s rules and principles, which every inspiring DJ was aiming at. 
Irrespective  of  being renowned as  Hip hop DJ, Gwynz could  mix and break different  music  genres,  without being  afraid of crossing  the lines. Ultimately Malawi had true ‘turntablist’.
 At that time, Comrades, the first rappers in Malawi to fuse hip hop with Malawian heritage, whom later changed their name to ‘Khamuladzi’, were being recognised by the hip hop enthusiasts as the most conscious Malawian hip hop group to ever grace the culture. 
DJ Gwynz  took the opportunity by  breaking and mixing  their popular song   ‘Africa’   in a cleverest way which I have never heard of, truly cementing his reputation as a true ‘turntables’.
So what’s, the significance of a DJ, especially Hip hop DJ?   Deejaying  is one  important element of hip hop, as such people who are given the responsibility of  playing hip hop records, be it on radio stations, clubs or  hip hop shows are  suppose be well acquainted   with  history of the culture. 
Shortfalls in the knowledge of the culture by the DJ’s can led to negative repercussions, in regards to the depth of songs being played.
Most young people listen to hip hop, hence  DJ’s  must be well informed to play songs which can inspire and compel  young people to their  dreams, not  conversely, since negativity is prevalent in some hip hop songs.
The legendary Krs-One once defined  Hip hop as  “Her  Infinite powers help Oppressed People” , as such  Hip hop music should not glorify  delinquency  or malpractices due to nature of songs played or  promoted by the DJ’s.  DJ’s are face of hip hop, incompetent DJ will ruin the fundamentals of the culture.”

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