Music contests in Africa: scam or legit?

Olawale Project fame winner
Olawale Ojo (MTN 2013 Project Fame Winner) Image source: WEB

MTN’s 2013 Project Fame winner, Olawale Ojo is now a cab driver. Big deal?! Well, I thought it wasn’t until I realized it was to everyone else. Turns out that with him having won a car and  USD 13,766 (based on today’s conversion rates) , he was expected to only do music and live a luxurious lifestyle. The kind that we see superstars live (or portray to be living) and that reminds us just how unlucky we are at life!

Back to Olawale  and he said that he had to use the car he won as a way to survive and fight depression. His story makes me (and I know it’s just not me) question why the hell do we have music contests if the “winners” only end up as “losers” in real life? I use the term “losers” very loosely so don’t come for me. OK. Maybe I should explain what exactly I mean.  Fans have such high expectations of these people, only for them eventually disappoint (musically speaking) when the contest is done.

In most cases, we have music contests where winners walk away with major record deals, a huge sum of money and sometimes brand new cars cars. It’s almost like winning the lottery, but with fame as the bonus. Whether you were rooting for the winner or not, you cannot wait to see what they do with the kind of blessing thrown their way. And then you wait….wait…..wait…..One year down the line,  a mediocre song from them to remind you they still exist and are still “chasing the dream” . If you’re lucky enough, you could get a second mediocre song and then they’re gone. That’s the last you ever get to hear from them.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all music contest winners fall off the face of the earth. I am pretty impressed by Sanaipei Tande, Yemi Alade, Ruth Matete and Alpha Rwirangira careers post- contest. Now someone explain to me whatever the hell happened Valerie Kimani, Davis Ntare and Tekno Own The Stage’s maiden winner, Shapeera. Where the hell are they? Do they still sing?

Away from music contests Olawale’s story is one that should inspire more than it should shock you. He knows what he wants, he’s doing whatever he can with what he has as a  means to support his dream. I see absolutely no wrong in that. He’s legit and self employed, which gives him flexibility that would otherwise not have existed with a 9-5. What more do we want from him? Many of us end up stuck in jobs that we hate,  unfulfilled and miserable just because we were/are not brave enough to chase our dreams. Then when we find someone that is bold enough to do it and we hate on them because they remind us that could be us, if only we could be persistent enough.

I hope that this story inspires you to chase your dream (if you haven’t been doing that already). I hope you are reminded that it’s never too late and that even as you try to survive, keep working on your long term goals.

Have a great remaining part of the week.

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The ultimate music producers’ challenge Africa.

 

There’s a new challenge in town between music producers and I am super stocked about it.  It all began with a conversation between Ulopa and Kevin Provoke, in which Ulopa pointed out that Kenyan music producers had been slacking. Kevin Provoke was having none of it. So, he took it upon himself, putting up a post on his Insta, of beats that he had produced and challenging  Ulopa to respond within 24 hours,  with sicker beats of his own. But this isn’t just a challenge to Ulopa. It’s a call to anyone out there that refers to themselves  as a “producer” to rise up to the challenge and prove their worth within the shortest time possible.

I sadly have to agree with Ulopa on this one. Music producers in Kenya have taken a back seat despite the huge role that they play in the music making process. Yes, we do have artists that are killing it in the game and getting international recognition for their contribution to the art, but rarely are we paying attention to those behind the music.  We get to hear of among others Tanzania’s Nahreel, S.A’s Maphorisa, Nigeria’s Masterkraft, but hardly will you hear a Kenyan music producer that is known beyond the country’s boarders. Not that they do not exist or that they aren’t doing a good job, but because we have chosen to prioritize music artists and forget those working behind the scenes.

When you actually think about it, we have among others Naiboi, Cedo, Polycarp Otieno, RKay, Ulopa, who are all responsible for some of the biggest hits we have had in the 254  but who really cares! They’re not artists, right? (Well, actually they are but that’s not really the point here)

I’ve seen Dunga Santuri of Mandugu Digital jumping onto the challenge, as well as Tanzania’s HermyB who even called on Eric Musyoka to drop something. This would actually be a great platform to upcoming music producers who could get their name out there simply by jumping onto the challenge and proving that they too can compete with the big dogs.

I would also like to see music artists have a challenge of their own, battling for the beats created with this challenge. You want a certain beat? Then you have to work for it.  And then we can progress to actual  final music products created from it all. It’s timely, an amazing shake to the music industry and I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds.

How about you? Who are your favorite Kenyan  and even African Music producers? What do you hope would result from this challenge? Let me know via the comments section below.

New Music Video Alert; Naiboi- 2 in 1

 

There’s been so much that’s been happening within the African Music Scene including Tiwa Savage wanting to give up (which I pray never happens- what in heavens name are we supposed to do with our lives if ever she does?!), Bobi Wine’s arrest and Ommy Dimpoz being severely ill and undergoing surgery. it’s overwhelming. On the other hand, there’s been also a lot of good things happening, including Nasty C launching his own label and signing his first artist to it.

Something else that’s amazing  is Naiboi’s brand video, 2 in 1. The video features A list celebrities singing along to the song, including Tanzania’s BenPol and American- Nigerian artist WurlD.

Everyday,  I’m blown away by the kind of advantage enjoyed by artists that sing as well as produce. It’s like you become an untouchable musical genius with a whole new level of creativity.  Case in point Teknomiles, Nahreel, Don Jazzy, and Kenya’s very own Naiboi. Naiboi is one of the very few artists in Kenya who understand how to wow the Kenyan audience, while having international appeal. He found a unique sound that works for him and just him and has had it become his brand.

I have been following Naiboi’s career from the days of Rapdamu and his rebranding and growth have me in awe. I hope the support seen just by appearing on this video reflects on the other aspects of the arts industry and that we have our artists building each other.

What do you think about the song and music video?

Let me know via the comments section below.

New Music Discovery: King Saha- Biri Biri

 

While fans of this song have been jamming to it since late May this year, I’m a bit late on it, having only listened to it this past weekend. I have to admit that this is one of the most amazing music discoveries that I have made recently.  Truth is, I always had “Biri Biri”  popping up and being suggested on my playlist but for some reason, I’m always skipping it. Then last weekend happened. On my way back home after such a long day, the song came on and I was so mad at myself for not having paid attention to it earlier. It was love at the first listen. Although I was thrown into a roller coaster of emotions as I progressed through the song.

First I was amazed at how beautiful the song was. Then I was whipping uncontrollably because I thought it was Mowzey Radio and was pondering on the huge loss the music industry was at after his death. But even with all that, (you’ll be proud!) I still remembered to Shazam the song so that I could get the title………..People! I was crying for King Saha and not Mowzey Radio!

I have a friend that is really into King Saha’s music. Has been since I knew her in 2011. For me, I did not pay much attention to him until I heard this song. King Saha has such a distinct voice that’s hard to miss and mimic, with so much soul in it, which are traits he shares with the late Radio. I have read through the comments on the “Biri Biri” song and people say that he’s the only vocalist in Uganda that can take Radio’s place. I strongly disagree.

There has been and can only be one Mowzey Radio. Just like there can only be one King Saha. I’d really  hate it if music lovers and fans of the late Radio would put pressure on King Saha to take up the late’s place in the music industry, making him forget to be himself. Boxing him in such a way that he fails to explore the potential within him and experiment with his sound as he tries to fill up the late’s shoes and therefore walking along the late’s path and not his own.

King Saha has such great potential. “Alina potential” as Radio would sing. But let’s allow to him walk his own path and use his individuality to contribute something different to the music industry, other than what Radio already contributed. That’s how we honor Mowzey’s legacy and realize his vision for the music industry. King Saha can get inspiration from Radio, pick a few lessons from him, but BE King Saha. That’s all.

What do you think?

Let me know on the comments section below.

The freaky relationship between Ciara, Tekno and Tiwa Savage.

My heart is about to jump off it’s cage from excitement because even the queen of dance recognizes the beauty in African Music. By the queen of dance, I obviously mean Ciara. She has a brand new track with Nigeria‘s Teknomiles. As if that’s not enough, it was sampled from Tiwa Savage‘s Before Nko, that features D’Prince.

The official video isn’t out yet, but Ciara has been going ham on promoting the song, releasing snippets of dance videos to the song shot in South Africa’s Soweto. In the videos, Ciara and her dancers  are adorned in traditional Zulu dresses  and beaded jewelry.

While I absolutely love the fact that Ciara is celebrating different cultural elements about Africa  through the song’s beats, dance and dressing, no one can tell the African story better than an African.  Don’t get me wrong,  I LOVE Ciara. If you know me personally then you know that she is one of my favorite artists of all time. And yet still one of the most underrated female artists we have in the world. She doesn’t get the credit that she truly deserves.

That aside, I love that she actually featured and sampled African artists on the song, which is so rare for international artists. (They mostly want to “celebrate” Africa but with the least if not none association with actual Africans). You can tell the kind of authenticity aimed at with this song.

If I’m being honest, I personally had not heard Tiwa’s version of the song until Ciara came along with this rendition. With this song and the kind of influence that Ciara commands, Tiwa Savage, Tekno and D’Prince’s music careers are about to be elevated to a whole new level and I’m so stocked about that! But this isn’t about Ciara.

I would love to see the day when Africans  would stop waiting to receive recognition from outsiders in order to realize and appreciate how much we have to offer and contribute to the world. The grass always seems greener on the other side. The Western world has better structures that ensure an artists’s success more than we do. And yes,  they do have greater returns on their music more than our artists do. They are greatly advantaged when it comes to technological development and the kind of exposure that they enjoy. All that is true. But we also have the advantage of being African.

We have such great diversity and rich cultures. That’s our advantage. We have such fascinating individual and communal stories to tell, good and bad, but all of which contribute to making the continent as colorful as it is. We need to explore that before we allow others to do so and beat us at our own game. If Ciara in all her glory can recognize what impact such a collaboration and telling of the African story can make, why is it so damn hard for we ourselves to realize the power that we hold?

All I am saying is, let’s believe in ourselves more. Let’s challenge ourselves more. Let’s tell the African story  more. No one can sell Africa better than an African.

Vinka; The new girl set to revolutionize Dancehall in Uganda.

 

Vinka Uganda
Ugandan Dancehall artist Vinka (Image source; redpepper.co.ug)

You know how everyone is obssessing over Beyonce and Cardi B? Yeah well, not me. I will tell you who I am currently fixated on though. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Vinka from Uganda. She’s still quite a newbie in the music industry but that’s not to say that she’s one that you can ignore. I tried as I waited for her to prove herself, but here I am talking about her.

Allow me the honor of  introducing you to Vinka, just in case you haven’t heard about her. She made her debut into the entertainment industry as a dancer, before transitioning to being an artist manager at Swangz Avenue and now, one of the fastest rising Dancehall artists in Uganda.

First song I heard by Vinka was Malaika. I thought that it was Cynthia Morgan, who had decided to sing in Luganda for the sake of appealing to the Ugandan audience. Then I heard Overdose, totally loved it even without knowing the artists behind it, although I did assume that they were all men.

The video to the song was dropped and that wasn’t the only thing dropping because my jaws were on the floor. Who the hell is this fine a** eccentric girl with such a distinctive voice and a style that’s written superstar all over it? I had died and was in heaven. Just getting to sample more of her music and digging up more about her through social media was pure bliss. The girl has mad talent.

Now while she has been pit against Sheebah Karungi, (whom I absolutely adore), I  personally think that they are different, each with something unique to offer the music industry and even more incomparable personalities. Oh the diversity! If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will.

Vinka has just dropped a new video. Check it out and let me know what you think about it and her as an artist. Does she have a future in music?

Kindly let me know via the comments section below.

 

Africa’s first time through Davido on BET’s main stage; Was it done right?

For the very first time in history, we finally had the BET Best International Act presented on the main stage.(Applause) I can now die in peace. Such a significant milestone for the African Music Industry.

 

I’m so glad that it was the continent’s very own Davido that not only scooped that award, but got on stage and took the opportunity to shine light on Africa. He started off by paying homage to D’Banj and sending his condolences to him for loosing his child. Then he talked about how proud he was about the continent’s great influence on other cultures, before he asked people to visit Africa and sample the food and clothes.

While I’m okay with everything that was said and the fact that he made it more about Africa than himself, I wish Davido talked about what the award meant to him and other African artists alike. I wish he made recommendations as to what more could be done to make things even better for African artists, beyond just presenting the award for the Best International Act on the main stage. This was a moment to talk about other African artists in the same category and to tell people why they needed to pay attention to them as well. I wish Davido used specific examples that made people feel like they needed to come to Africa by the time they were done listening to his speech, without him having to directly tell them to visit.

Maybe I am wrong, but that’s just how I feel. However, while I want to sit here and give recommendations all day long as to what should have and should not have been said, chances are Davido might have been overwhelmed by his emotions, which would give him a free pass on this one. If I’m being honest,  I too was  bawling watching from when the nominees’ name popped up on the screens to seeing Terrence J. and LL Cool J hugging him, Jamie Foxx standing up to acknowledge him before he ran up on stage,it was such a beautiful moment and one that made me feel so proud of being African and humbled at how far we have come. I am pretty sure that if I was Davido at that moment, I would probably be chocking on my own tears and wouldn’t be able to get a word out. Then I would have to wave sheepishly and exit the stage.

That said, I think the award was well deserved and I am glad that it was Davido that represented the continent at 2018’s BET main stage. His hard work, resilience and constant push of limits will definitely get the world paying attention to the continent (and what it has to offer) for all the right reasons. Hope that J.Cole collaboration requested for will be happening soon. That should be epic.

How about you? Did you watch the BET 2018 Awards? What were your highlights of the entire event? What do you think about Davido’s win and his speech?

 

Kindly let me know via the comments section below.

Of music artists is Africa redefining their roles; Wasafi Festival and reality show.

I’m not one to gossip but did you see the drama that was between May D and his baby mama? The fact that they decided to air their dirty laundry in public is one thing, but to have their child caught up in their mess is beyond sad. I just thank Jesus that my childhood was experienced at a time when social media was non- existent.

 

That aside, Tanzanian artists keep raising the bar so high in terms of their approach to music as a business, it might be almost impossible for the rest of East Africa to catch up. A few days ago, Diamond Platnumz called for a press briefing, during which he announced that WCB Family would have a reality show, which will be airing on Wasafi TV.  And not just that, he encouraged other artists with content to bring it forth to the station, concluding that the platform is for them all (Tanzanian artists).

I’m totally against an artist having a reality show. Not that my opinion matters, (you choose your own life at the end of the day) but  none the less, I will share it. As an artist,  you’re already in the public eye and a reality show  strips you off the little privacy you have left. Now this is besides the fact that sometimes, you would feel the need to be a bit extra for the sake of keeping your viewers entertained. Come on, who wants to be perceived as boring?………. However……………I am not mad at the unconventional approach to entertainment that has been taking place in Tanzania’s music industry recently.

In addition to the reality show, at the briefing, Platnumz announced that there would be a “Wasafi Festival”, which is basically an event that would last several days, featuring performances by various Wasafi artists. Now before you dismiss the idea as one that has higher chances of failing than succeeding, music festivals in Tanzania are HUGE. Not only do music lovers pay for tickets and turn up in masses to watch their favorite artists perform, but artists look forward to performing at Fiestas like their life depends on it. Once you perform at a Fiesta in Tanzania, then you as an artist my friend have made it. Why? It’s one of the biggest crowds you will ever perform to in Tanzania, with such diverse crowds, thanks to the tours courtesy of the festival that happens across the country’s various regions.

With the kind of crowd that Platnumz and his crew can pull, I simply cannot wait to see how it all turns out. I have said this before, I will say it again. I hope this is motivation enough for more artists to be the change that they want to see in the music industry. It’s about time music artists see and embrace themselves as not just that, but as all round entertainers.

That’s all for now folks!

Do have yourself a great day ahead! (or night, whenever you will be reading this)

 

Why you should be paying attention to Vanessa Mdee and Jux’ love story and money making moves.

 

Love and money make the world go round and this is also true for Vanessa Mdee and Jux, who yesterday announced an upcoming self promoted tour dubbed,  “In “Love” and Money”. The “In Love” part is a representation of Jux’ upcoming album  (and of course their love story) and the money part representing Vanessa’s “Money Mondays'” album.

The tour is set to take place as from June 30, around 4 different regions in Tanzania, but this could change depending on the fans’ response. A ticket is set to go for Tsh.3000 advance and Tsh.5000 at the gate. According to Vanessa Mdee and Jux, they as artists have to invest so much into their craft, only for promoters to call them for shows with payment that doesn’t match up to the investment put into the music. They also attributed the idea of having and planning their own concert to getting better sound, locations and stage set ups, which in most times is amiss when planned by promoters who are sometimes only concerned about making money.

V.Money and Jux said that they had tried to get sponsors to promote the shows, to which they failed and therefore started saving up and sponsored themselves. The two artists will be performing alongside other artists including Mdee Music’s Mimi MarsHip Hop heavy weights, Weusi and other local and international artists that will be announced later on.

V.Money also revealed that a new video from the Money Mondays album would be dropped at every region they visited. Others in attendance at the press briefing were Mimi Mars and Weusi’s GNako. The tour will also have some students from Tanzania getting scholarships abroad and women being empowered through V.Money’s “Udada Talks” Initiative.

For the longest time, we have had artists complain about various issues concerning the music industry which hinders growth and I am glad that we are finally having artists stepping up to be the change that they want to see. Only a music artist would best understand what ails the music industry and be able to come up with a solution for it. I love that this is not just a progressive approach to doing music shows, but that it also provides an opportunity for empowerment for the youth, who will be attending.

I really hope that this inspires even more artists to be that change that they want to see in the music industry. It shouldn’t stop here. This should be just but the first step towards the youth across Africa seizing even more opportunities.

Be inspired and have yourself a fantastic weekend ahead!

Music labels in Africa leveling up to their Western counterparts. What is the impact?

 

Landing a music record deal could possibly be one of the most life changing events that could happen to an artist’s career. I have however said this before and I will say it again, it could be a life changing affair for an artist in Africa, but sometimes with more cons than pros. Here’s why. As a continent with a music industry that is still at it’s infant stages when compared to that of the Western world and yet still experiencing  such rapid growth by the minute, we are yet to have proper structures with all considerations in place for our kind of market.

You will find that in the Western world especially with major record labels, artists will  have not just their music taken care of,  but their entire image. This could sometimes have them get personal stylists, make up artists hired for them, houses, cars and even daily use money. On the other hand and to which they could not be faulted, a music label in Africa will in most cases only be able to fund an artist’s creative ventures including recording their music, shooting videos, promotion and distribution of their work.

Seems like times are changing though as Tanzania’s Rap goddess Rosa Ree  (previously signed to The Industry) yesterday announced that she had been signed to South Africa’s Dimo Production Record Label. The 3 year contract came with a house in Tanzania worth USD 175K. And not just that, she got a second house in South Africa, for the times that she will be working there. Talk about landing a good deal.

I’m really excited about the fact that we are finally getting to a point where music labels in Africa can take care of music artists in such a huge way. My only concern is what happens after the 3 year contract is done and either parties involved decides not to renew the contract. What happens to the house then? Does the record label take it back? (Rose Ree was asked about it as well but refused to answer the question). I’m worried that if more artists are able to land this kind of deal some would be unable to keep sustaining themselves and their lifestyles when the deal is done.

I hate to be the Debbie Downer in all this but with the assumption that rewards such as houses would be taken away after contract expiration, it would suck for artists to be unable to sustain themselves. There’s also the risk of such artists running into debt trying to keep up with their “perceived lifestyles” and even possible depression.

What do you think?