Let’s Talk about Waxy K


Wonderful Kapenga, otherwise known as Waxy K is a local hip-hop artist that came into the limelight when he was only 16 back in 2015. Today at 19 he is still a child star who has squeezed into the top notch on the-who-is-who-list of the current crop of urban artistes.

There are a few things that has made him stand out, his funny looking small stature; funny because it does not correlate with his talent as a rapper whose lyrical prowess has left the old scratching their heads while his peers trying to jump out of their bodies.

His signature entry ‘Ndikhonza kuyamba’ whenever he is about to start dropping bars including clever verses that follow has separated the child star from the noises that have choked the local urban music industry.

His punchlines are a typical imagination of a genius where he will use words that rhyme. Take a peek at these lines from his track Zazii:

Zazii zomveka mkazi Mphete

Kumamusiya kupita kumowa on the Payday

Zazii zomatumizilana ma nude

Zazii zomakhala kwamakolo anudi

At the moment Waxy K is hot property and with the influence that he is commanding there is no doubt that if he were a 16-year-old Justin Bieber of those days, he would be a millionaire.

His emergence also is a testimony that the old script where parents were always against their children’s calling to a music career is slowly but surely tearing away.

His emergence also is a testimony that the old script where parents were always against their children’s calling to a music career is slowly but surely tearing away.

For Waxy K the situation is even tricky when one considers that his father is a cleric in the Believers Assembly church but he accepted his son’s talent and even started financially supporting his in his secular music career.

Several interviews that I have heard the child star speak has told me that if only he were to have a manager who has a vision there is a huge chance that great things are waiting to happen for him.

In one such interviews he says he sings songs that should appeal, and benefit people which is more Gospel work to me than singing Alleluia in a church.

He is scheduled to release an EP but he has already conquered and he confidently declares that if the local music industry hold hands then they will be able to beat the international market.

He also has the spirit of protecting his talent by declaring whenever opening his compositions: ‘Zoti wina wake apemphe remix nyimboyi sindikufuna ayi’.

His reasoning is that once a composition has been made he doesn’t want any dirty hands infecting it with germs.

The excitement that comes with the little success somehow brings disaster. And for Waxy K the fame that he has earned could also be a pitfall that could stop his career in its tracks even before it has started.

His talent also requires a special nourishment that should provide it with a kind of growth that should allow him flourish and become a big star that he desires to become.

It will be a mockery to compare Waxy K with former child stars Millera Nkhoma and late Israel Chatama. For Millera there was no vision on how she wanted to carry on with her career. For Chatama it looks like with fame there was too much adult influence which led to his quick demise.

With such lessons all over, it would be disheartening for Waxy K to be a shinning star that never was when he fails before he achieves. With what he has achieved so far, he is an attraction to many things which are unfortunately both positive and negative.

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Lyrical Pen’s top 2017 Stars


So much happened in the music cycles in 2017 and the pen was really busy. Along the way the Pen angered local Hip-Hop star Fredokiss for what it felt was his unprofessional and childish conduct but the fact remained that he stole the limelight in the year.

Much as everyone else did their best, there can always be one winner with the pen as is the case with any other awards and recognitions. I might not be in agreement with several people but according the Lyrical Pen, these were its 2017 stars. Anybody can come up with their list.

TOP ENTERTAINMENT ACT – Patience Namadingo

Unlike other musical awards organisers who struck off initial awardees from the list because they had disagreed, it is not the case with the Lyrical Pen. At the moment the pen has issues with Namandingo for painting the whole media fraternity on Facebook with one brush of condemnation for a mix-up of his mother’s picture in one daily.

Regardless of this fact this has been Patience’s year. We saw a different brand of the all new Namadingo that performed to mammoth crowds in Blantyre and Lilongwe venues. He also worked wonders singing in different places to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth Children Cancer Ward. He also showed the world the comedian in him. For all this he is the pen’s top entertainer for 2017.

TOP MALAWIAN MUSICIAN – Atoht Manje

The pen concluded that Ellias Missi known in showbiz cycles as Atoht Manje shot himself to the top of the game.

Not many really considered Atoht as one to make a mark amongst the youthful musical group of Lilongwe where he emerged from until he started dropping tracks like Majelasi, Lululu, Tizipepese, and etcetera.

Atoht is endowed with a crackly voice which is suitable for dancehall or ragga genre. The tracks like Majelasi and Lululu really came riding this genre until Tizipepese, which his fans call Mabvuto came in. It’s fast pace bordering on something that can best be equalled to a Congo beat or merely a local hurried up beat like fast paced Manganje as he would love to call it.

When one listens to Atoht’s productions with a trained ear, you would easily notice that his lyrical structure is messed up. He literally follows his heart, the result of which is a general appeal to his fans but an immediate shock to music teachers.

The same applies with Che Patuma, the track that he made to grab the top musician for Malawi in 2017 according to the pen.

TOP URBAN MUSICIAN – Fredokiss

The pen settles for Fredokiss not to appease him for getting angry at its ‘venomous’ ink, but because he proved that the local hip-hop genre is so influential that it would be foolish for anyone to pay it a blind eye.

He held three free shows in Ndirande, Masintha and Mzuzu where he parked the venues in a way that no meeting, be it political or religious could achieve. With politics and religion you know their manipulative power where they will try to profess popularity by parking vehicles with people that they ferry to such spots for obvious reasons. For Fredokiss it was just consumers of his niche products walking by foot to the venue.

 

In the year, Fredokiss who is also known as Ghetto King Kong released hit song “Njira Zawo” which features Lucius Banda. This is the rendition of Lucius’ “Ali ndi njira Zawo”. An additional to Dear Jah Jah, another hit.

 

TOP LOCAL ALBUM – Sunset in the Sky

Lawi’s second musical toil in ‘Sunset in the Sky’ is the pen’s pick for the best local album of the year slot. The album launched at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) on 2nd December in Lilongwe is a show of artistic progress of one talented artiste.

 

The Afro-Soul musician and producer has in the album tracks like Timalira, Dance with me, Therere and Yalira Ng’oma to mention but a few. The album has 25 tracks in total that touch on spirituality, life and wide range of issues.

The album has taken a good four years to put together and the proof of well thought composition is evident, making Lawi a top brand.

Jah Prayzah’s Pleasant Christmas Present


The Blantyre Sports Club performance by Zimbabwe’s Jah Prayzah’s was a perfect Christmas gift to music lovers in Blantyre. The fans had to brave the initial downpour just to make sure that they watch the Zimbabwean son.

His electrifying performance was a perfect gift as it took the fans from Christmas Eve across into Christmas Day without them knowing how time had flown past with such speed.

His bellowing voice thundered off the greens of the Golf course where the stage was mounted but still shook into life some of the patrons who had taken one too many and had dozed off.

Jah Prayzah showed why he has shared time in recording studios with Africa’s current greats, Yemi Alade, Diamond Platnumz, Davido, Mafikizolo, Oliver Mtukudzi etc…

The Zimbabwean contemporary musician, with his Third Generation Band, with their signature band uniform of military regalia, went to work and as professionals. And as professionals they never relented neither did they gave out anything half-baked.

One thing decidedly noticeable is that Jah Prayzah is not just a contemporary African musician but he equally and perfectly holds on to a true African roots by not only word of mouth but he sings this African identity. He sings in no any other language but Shona. He promotes the Zimbabwe Mbira genre without stint or limit. In Blantyre he did just that. Occasionally he would play on Mbira, a traditional instrument of the Shona people of Zimbabwe which is the main stay for the Mbira genre.

Everything about his music, in terms of lyrics, the African beat and presentation is undoubtedly African the only freestanding aspect that can safely not be linked to his huge African theme is his performance name Jah Prayzah which sounds Jamaican. Of course his band name is also strangely English – Third Generation Band.

 

 

Godwin Muzari Arts Editor for The Herald wrote that it is hard to ignore Jah Prayzah’s music in the era of Zimbabwe’s political transition and that his songs, especially “Kutonga Kwaro” which means “How a leader rules”, are being played everywhere.

 

Muzari further wrote that since every revolution is oiled by music that resonates with winds of change, Jah Prayzah’s album “Kutonga Kwaro”, which was released 43 days before Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president, has dovetailed with the greatest political development since the country’s independence which he said was the resignation of Robert Mugabe.

Just to emphasize how he wants his music to strictly hold on to African signature, Jah Prayzah did a collaboration which features in his sixth studio  album “Jerusarema” with the Jamaican reggae great Luciano but all his contributions in this track are in Shona.

Looking at how things are flowing for him, one would expect Jah Prayzah to be contented with his rich vein of form and therefore going into his head by way of his actions.

On the stage at the Blantyre Sports Club, the fans witnessed the performance of a down to earth artiste whose humility was unbelievable especially looking at the sizeable crowd, by the Blantyre Sports Club standard – that had come to see and dance to his tunes.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces gave Jah Prayzah an ambassadorial role which compels him to demystify the army and destroy the fear that is generally associated with them.

Through his music and energy filled live performances, Jah Prayzah aims to deliver this message and in Blantyre in the wee hours of the Christmas night he perfectly did this by performing a fusion of military brass band marching sound that sat well with his Mbira genre for the joy of the fans that came for his performance.

It was a performance so unique that the earlier glitches witnessed at the beginning of the show were all erased and people will give their attention again to Agulugufe 1200 Limited when they will bring another top notch musician to Malawi.

 

Setting up benchmarks for Malawi Music


In Malawi scenario or the rest of the world quality control in this case refers to letting our music pass some form of litmus test…

Most radio and TV stations complain that they receive an uncountable music compact disks or sometimes tapes brought by every Jack and Jill who say are musicians or singers in need of airplay.

Without trying to play a condescending card to the owners of music outlets, meaning those that have radio, TV stations or entertainment joints or public spaces like buses that play music, I think if we are to have quality music, then we need to set up standards.

Once singers and musicians bring their music, it must be passed through a rigorous due process where it has to pass all or 90 percent of the prerequisites drawn on the checklist.

The purpose of all this is to certify quality; some hints could be to look at the quality of sound i.e. is it filling the whole eardrum? On the other hand, is it trying to pull off the ear? Is it going to ‘infect’ the eardrum or just use it as a passage as it soothes the soul?

When listening to it are you feeling ashamed that the so called musician or singer only exposed their mediocrity?

Are the vocals showing that the one behind it was gasping for air? What about vocal variations, is it blending with the instrumentation? Is the music some common organised noise?

I know there could be many areas to look into before venturing into unknown terrain. At the end of the day standard and quality enforcement should be the order.

There are some operatives in the radio and TV stations, and even entertainment joints that, at the expense of their jobs, let gluttony scarlet red in the teeth.

Those that can be easily caught; you find every time this unexceptional artist comes to the premises they always demand to hand in their stuff to the very particular radio or TV presenter or the people who play music in entertainment joints.

This kind of greed is not motivational in the would be musician and it encourages them to go to a person who has a mixer placed in his dining room on his dining table linked with a ‘scraggy’ boom microphone.

Within two hours the so called musician will gurgle out noise, which the man owning the dining table and the mixer placed on it, will mix the panting sound with some computer programmes that will give it a drumbeat, accompanied by sounds of guitars and percussions.

All this will be happening on the back of an outcry that Malawi music has and still is struggling to get a place on the international market.

Some have been attributing this failure to lack of establishment of a unique music genre but this earns my disagreement because this happens because artists do not know what they want to achieve.

Our artists will rarely exercise measured patience when producing their music, even those that are nationally acclaimed, as our top musicians have no patience to take time before releasing anything and there for quality is always compromised.

Radio stations will always have no problems with this, as they will establish several programme specifically designed to ‘promote’ this kind of local music. If what is meant is to be achieved is really to promote, then I have a problem with the mediocrity they are championing.

If by accident or chance a member of an international music-promoting firm is visiting the country or any of the websites that have some of the local radios that are streaming online and catches the hurriedly prepared musical stuff, will they really be encouraged to come and promote it for the international market?

If we are to achieve quality as a country and promote local music, then local radio and TV stations and entertainment joints in collaboration with organisations dealing in and with music and musical artists have to set up benchmarks, which have to be used if music produced has to gain airplay.

These outlets need to critically look at the music videos produced other than broadcasting or playing anything they lay their hands on.

Even the news producers for all media platforms should not always carry stories for mediocre performers who just visit newsrooms, declare they are musicians, and get story space.

Entertainment writers have to listen to the music of an artist before they can start glorifying mediocrity. We can do better with quality control in the music Industry.

 

Learners and Bluetooth Speakers


I stay closer to Motel Paradise where recently a new private secondary school has opened its doors. It has given me an opportunity to observe ill-disciplined learners doing all sorts of naughty stuff.

What attracted my attention is a group of these learners who would bring to school wireless and Bluetooth operated speakers that produce booming sound either sourced from their mobile phones or memory sticks and cards.

These learners will therefore play the music from these gadgetries and sing along while dancing. Meanwhile, their classroom lessons are in session which now casts bleakness on what becomes of the national future if the learners are showing no interest to acquire this all important knowledge with such impunity.

In the early to mid 1980s when the legendary fallen music icon Mjura Mkandawire was a tutor at Blantyre Teachers College, the fruits of his toils were evident in the student teachers.

We used to learn more about the basic music theories from the student teachers than we were able to acquire from our traditional teachers.

The sad part is that Malawi is a poor country. The poverty is not only stinking but it is palpable as well. Not surprising, where the authorities cannot provide the basic necessities like classrooms, chalk and enough teachers, to mention but a few you can’t expect them to provide musical instruments to help in the practical aspect.

At least the absence of such requirements was understandable during the reign of the government of Kamuzu Banda. He is considered to have been one with top standards and class and therefore wouldn’t have expected anything less, but there was none because no future was cut out for music.

But then even when we were learning music there was nothing to show for it because those that made a name were rote musicians and artists like Allan Namoko, Mzalawayingwe Jazz Band etc

Today music is required almost in every aspect of our socio-economic and socio-religious day to day lives. Proliferation of churches that are bent at attracting more following that would equally provide more Sunday offerings for example, use live musical bands a lot. Then talk of artists and musicians that are appearing in each and every household these days

I believe had we made music a compulsory and practical examinable subject from primary through secondary schools we would perhaps have benefitted a lot as a country.

Surely we would also not have had learners staying out of classrooms and choose to entertain themselves with some loud music. Thanks to the sophistication of technology which has allowed tiny gadgetry to produce unbelievable sound and the availability of digitally stored music in memory cards and sticks, the learners have all they need, not only at their disposal but easily solar powered.

Lately, music as a subject is not as serious as was the case in the old curriculum where it was given a higher recognition. Music can be interesting sometimes because it can act like fire which can be both a good servant and a bad master.

Writing for Times in December 2014 Melissa Locker observed there’s little doubt that learning to play a musical instrument is great for developing brains.

 

Melissa further wrote that science has shown that when children learn to play music, their brains begin to hear and process sounds that they couldn’t otherwise hear. This helps them develop “neurophysiological distinction” between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, which can translate into improved academic results for kids.

 

A good environment which provides both theoretical and practical atmosphere for learning would be conducive to the learners which in turn would not allowing them to abscond classes and entertain themselves outside the classroom and during learning period. In this case music would be considered a bad effect to learning and schools need to discipline such learners in order to save the good name of music.

 

Dan Lu’s publicity stunts overdose


Sometimes the restraint to talk about ‘below the belt’ actions or howlers by music artists engulf me so much that I let it pass at the risk of either glorifying it by any mention on this space or ultimately missing out an opportunity to speak my mind.

But Lyrical Pen is there for these musicians and any wayward traits observed in the artists’ conduct need to be stopped in its track by opining on its merits and demerits.

Dan Lufani, the urban Afro-pop star is a talented artiste. No contest over this fact. He has proven through and through that he is one artist endowed with flair to dish songs that massage the auditory wits of the most hard-to-please music lovers.

It has become so difficult to ignore him; this is why every time he posts a picture kissing a ‘bared’ belly of his pregnant wife on Facebook; tongues engage a top gear and start wagging.

While entertainment experts lately consider posts of this shocking nature as a true ploy to draw attention and plop up their following and presence as part of publicity stunts, Dan Lufani’s latest exploits in Ireland clearly showed that he lacks guidance in order to only court beneficial controversy or publicity.

When you look at what Lufani’s PR team tried to come up with in order to palliate the controversy he courted while in Ireland, it is clear that it was a shoddy work because those doing it lacked skills and the dirt that Dan sprinkled on his professional fabric was just too much to be washed.

Some titbits that make up the subsequent statement says Dan Lufani tried to avoid meeting or being photographed with his ex. There is a half-naked woman that did not only pose with Dan Lu but they also hugged each other and yet the statement says he never touched her.

My take is that all this is a botched up job. To begin with, there are artists like Tay Grin who are an attraction to a bevy of beautiful girls but he will tactfully stay away from his female fans without being rude. He will either pose with the female fans in a group without being too touchy or he will pose with one fan but in a manner that clearly shows the boundaries. In other words he does not pose with fans in a compromising manner. This is called being smart and a sign of restrain which is a virtue eluding most artistes.

We can be all what we want as entertainers but the moment we decide to commit to a matrimonial acquaintance we need to behave like it because we stop only living for us.

Many talented artists have ‘strangulated’ their careers before it blossomed to beneficial levels because of the way they behave both in private and public life.

Somehow the actions of some of these artists have a bearing on their parents, siblings and not to mention spouses. Much as the artist would therefore desire to behave in a certain way that will make them enjoy all the trappings that go with this life, there are those people that wear this shame that should make artists cautious before they act.

There is always a limit to how much controversy one can use to get attention and publicity. If one is so careless that he becomes the topic of discussion on social media but in an all negative manner and a reference of ridicule to his spouse and family then it’s time to sit down and reflect.

I know many artists in Malawi adore Diamond Platnumz for his musical exploits as well as off stage stunts with beautiful women. But believe you me; lately he has started losing track and focus because he went off the rail.

It is crucial for artists to always play it smart and avoid being in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

 

Lucius Banda’s Free Shows loathing


On 14 October, 2017 Lucius Banda decided to use his Facebook wall to detest what he called a common practice in Malawi where people seek free entry into musical shows.

He went on to deduce that this is not due to poverty because people who do this come by car which has obviously been fuelled and upon getting into the show they buy a lot of beer.

What he abhors is that it is clear to such a person that only paying to the artist to gain entrance is what they hate. Sometimes where positions are reversed where the patrons might have a grocery shop, they cannot give free loaf of bread to that artist whatever the case and it would even sound funny if they were to ask for free bread.

He goes on to pour his heart out by wondering why people feel comfortable to enter shows for free despite knowing the artists have loads of overheads to take care of. He then marvels at Malawians’ lack of spirit to support arts.

In his wisdom Lucius believes if all the fans were paying at the door during such shows then Malawi will have her own export quality musicians like is the case in other countries around Malawi.

He goes on to cite Nigerians, Tanzanians and Zimbabweans where he says musicians grow because people are ready to support.

Lucius made this Facebook post barely hours after rapper Fredokiss had held a free show at Masintha which made the venue bulge at the seams.

Rightly so, his post attracted a comment from Mchiteni Nthala II who urges Lucius to organise a free shows sometimes; his argument is that music is not meant to be sold always as there are a lot of people out there who are his loyal fans but cannot afford the gate entrance fee.

Repay them by holding a free show by borrowing a leaf from Fredokiss, who according to him does not have money but has managed to hold a free show in Ndirande as well as at Masintha, he argues.

He then further says Lucius can also do the same by holding free shows in Mhuju – Rumphi, Kabudula- Lilongwe, and Mayaka – Zomba.

 

Lucius however is still adamant by inviting the contributor to his constituency in Balaka to see for himself what happens on his ‘gate’ [the entrance to his residence, I presume] where what he will see will make him cry for him. Lucius argues that he doesn’t give back to people using shows.

There were several subsequent comments

 

One Charles Percy Gama says it’s indeed a matter of concern that after investing a lot in advertising, getting supporting artists, venue hiring and organizing a show, somebody comes with all family members and friends to enter for free. When the artists get poorer and stop performing and switch to vegetable farming or bicycle tax business the same people will snide at them for lack of vision. He says it’s high time we supported our artists.

Another comment from my namesake Gregory Chisomo Likalamu argues that Lucius needs to ask Gwamba or Fredokiss to establish who pays for the venue because at the end of the day music is not only for money, but for fun too.

He further states that since Lucius is a politician it’s not surprising that he is egotistical and therefore will only hold free show that will be to his own benefit or when someone pays for it. He argues that Fredokiss is paid with love and not with money.

As a journalist, one would expect me to enjoy free entry which I don’t. I have never been to a show for free even when I will write an article for such artists. However Lucius response is mixed up. He serves two constituencies; a political and a musical constituency and whatever corporate social responsibility activities he does as an MP cannot tick on his check list as an artist.

Several reasons have been offered on his post. But I still believe whether Malawians love free shows or not, he owes it to them and one day it cannot hurt to pay them back as an artist and not a politician of Balaka North.

 

Why Diamond Platnumz and Morgan Heritage?


These past months have seen the internet and the east African media most especially, awash with stories of Tanzanian top artiste Diamond Platnumz who has been in the news for marital issues concerning his cheating on Ugandan wife Zari Hassan. Apparently Diamond’s alleged infidelity has resulted in revelations that he has impregnated his ex, Tanzanian model Hamisa Mobeto.

I will leave this story at that and turn to his musical exploits which apparently has not been lying docile due to the trouble brewing over his social life.

Around this same time, Diamond Platnumz real name Naseeb Abdul Juma who has done collaborations with international musical acts that I can’t count with my fingers and toes decided to collaborate with the Jamaican royal family of reggae, The Morgan Heritage, to do a love song called Hallelujah.

To begin with, when groups collaborate usually it is because there is something common in their musical exploits. The coming together of Diamond Platnumz and Morgan Heritage therefore was something that was unprecedented.

This is why; Morgan Heritage is a reggae band that has the best reggae album Grammy award for their album ‘Strictly Roots’. On the other hand, Diamond Platnumz is an afro-pop artist whose collaborations with other such African artistes like Zimbabwean Jah Prayzah and Nigerians Davido and P Square, Mr flavour to mention but a few.

On the international scene he has also collaborated with US Ne-Yo doing a track Marry and this well understood as African pop borrows a lot from the R&B genre of the US.

Listening and watching the results of Diamond Platnumz and Morgan Heritage’s collaboration one would agree that they both came down to meet at a convenient level.

There is a track called Nana done by Diamond featuring Mr Flavour which clearly shows how the Nigerian and Tanzanian beat can easily fuse.

Now when one looks at Culture – the Jamaican reggae outfit – for example would we say this is the band that can collaborate with Diamond Platnumz. I think there is no such chance.

In 1990 Morgan Heritage’s debut album called Growing Up was an R&B album it was only in 1994 when the band was officially formed and the group moved to Jamaica, the home of their musician father Denroy Morgan that they settled for reggae in earnest.

Over this period they have released some of the reggae’s greatest hits like Down by the River, Reggae Bring Back Love, Let’s make it up, Protect Us Jah, She is still loving me, Tell Me How come

Peetah, Morgan Heritage’s lead vocalist has still the R&B influenced vocals which when you come to think of it made sense to collaborate with Diamond Platnumz.

When you watch the Hallelujah video more appreciation of this departure from the reggae discipline from the Heritage’s part will be appreciated while for Diamonds this is his turf.

For the lovers of traditional roots reggae the collaboration has been dismissed as a disgrace while for the liberals this is making not only a marketing sense but it brings the members of Morgan Heritage closer to their home continent of Africa.

Without being trapped in some rigid posture, the decision by the reggae outfit only shows their versatility. The elements of not being a pure reggae is also clearly seen and observed in their latest album released on May 19 this year called Avrakedabra which follows their acclaimed Grammy Award-winning Strictly Roots.

Much as the album title poses many questions so is the 15-track album which if you have the history of Morgan Heritage you will not be surprised with its cross breeding of genres.

And therefore their collaboration with Diamond Platnumz is not a total surprise and if any Malawian musical outfit of artiste were n doubt when Morgan Heritage offered for collaboration when they were twice in the country, there goes your answer.

Flash Disks Killing Our Musicians


To sell 1000 copies at a single musical show, in one night and at K2000 a copy is a feat that can translate into something else. Already, this means K2m a night and this is excluding gate, plus hire collections.
Assuming that the artist is going to perform in all the 52 Saturdays in a year, he would make K104 million in sales of their music alone.
Well, forget about this figure; this can only happen in my fantasy world. But the point I am trying to drive home is, Malawian music followers are helping the industry to drown into a quagmire of retrogression.
As we speak, right now every Jack and Jill is running some rundown music with two or a single rickety computer that is leaking out musicians’ wealth of their lifetime. And now they can do so with the blessings of Copyright Society of Malawi.
For some time now, even in the face of vehement protest from musicians themselves, Cosoma has chosen to be the issuing of soft copy licences which once gotten people can upload hundreds of albums in flash disks for sale.
For you to get the music all you need is a flash disk or a mobile phone that can take in some media and some K100 and you will get all the albums that Lucius Banda, for example, has come up with over to decades that he has been in music business.
These ‘flash disk patrons’ for one thing, are always in the forefront cursing the artists for lack of innovativeness, ingenuity and progress, forgetting that for artists to achieve such, they require resources.
If we were willing as a proud country to have our musicians reach the dizzying heights, we surely were supposed to dig deep into our pockets and patronise the work of our artists so that with our buying of their products they can be fired into some ingenious mortals who will be able to give us even better material that can stand the international test.
Ever since OG. Issah, that music distributor, stopped doing something he has only known best in his life because no soul, no longer goes before his counter to buy music. People have now found a way of getting music cheaply and without regard to its maker.
One might laugh off the decision by the distributor, but one thing you might not realise is that even patronage of music through flash disks would be snuffed if materials will no longer be forthcoming.
The musicians themselves feel the pinch that is why in every music video album our musicians produce these days, they will make sure to warn against piracy.
Much as we might gloss over such warning in the conviction that there is no system in this country to track down music pirates in earnest, one thing which has to stand out clearly is the fact that we are helping in making our music industry achieve some mediocre status.
In the past I used to scream mad at radio stations, including the mother institution the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which at one time equally behaved like a flash disk patron.
They would get the music through the flash disk but still fail to pay for royalties incurred because the music was being played to the public as it were.
The same was the case with entertainment joints that have our music as its heartbeat. If you remove the music it means you are getting rid of the pulsation and consequently killing it.
Owners of such places, just like owners of radio stations have realised that they can never be without music. Pity though, they have this feeling that music just comes into flash disks without deeply thinking about sleepless nights that one spent to compose the lyrics and even the accompanying instrumentation to come up with the music that brings fame to their joints.
There is something terribly wrong with a culture of getting things on a silver platter. It feels the same way as the culture of getting free lunch. It kills the spirit of discernment where you have a special place for the maker of your favourite music.
Because the moment a patron has respect for the artist who makes their favourite music, the only way to give back is when they buy – read me tight here – buying their audio compact discs or DVDs without having to let some virus infested computer empty hard earned music products into their flash disk at the expense of the maker of such music.
One other good thing is that we have our music selling at very affordable prices and there is no way anyone can claim that they can manage a music player but not the music that gives the gadget meaning for its existence.

Copyright Act: Govt’s Wish list


Before the enactment of the Copyright Law in 2016, everything that was not happening right in the arts sector in general, and music industry in particular was being attributed to lack of such statutes.

A couple of years later, artists seem to still be at the mercy of the perpetrators of arts related offences and sins. This is so even in the presence of the law and those that are empowered by it, the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma). They continue sleeping on the job and do little or nothing to enforce it.

Cosoma officials would argue their case all they want but they can only hear from me as someone who is echoing out the brutal and naked sentiments of musicians and other artists in different disciplines.

I will quickly take you to the recent matter relating to Collins Bandawe, the musician famed for his Tchekera Maluzi song. Apparently without his knowledge, two urban artistes – Saint and Macelba – decided to do a remix of the track.

When asked by the media if they had the consent of Bandawe, the duo said since Collins was nowhere to be traced they therefore sought permission from Cosoma.

Assuming that Cosoma indeed gave them such a go ahead, then if the body’s action is not fascinating enough, then tell me what is. Because it is as good as going to the police to borrow a gun that one intends to use for a heist.

Cosoma failed to use the very law that provide for its existence.

Copyright Act section 66 in simpler terms guides on how best this could be done. Among others one is supposed to find the original owner of the works; inform them of their intention to redo their work and even provide the address of the place at which they intend to make the recording.

It further describes the kind of work as follows: “Sound recordings made… may be in the form of an adaptation of the musical work previously recorded.”

Once this has been recorded the law guides that the original owner is supposed to be given the copies that have been made 15 days before publishing them and at least by 90 days royalties should start trickling down the original owner.

In the case above, others can argue that section 36 of the Copyright Act provides for the permitted free use of the works. However, on a number of conditions the duo did not qualify even under transient and incidental copies.

It is therefore disheartening that the society allowed all this to happen with careless abandon when they are supposed to be in the forefront promoting and protecting creativity as their sole existence suggests.

When one sits down and go through the Copyright Act what comes out clearly is that this has just become government’s wish list.

There are issues to do with Copyright Fund on section 98 of Copyright Act for example.

The law expects the society to administer this fund so that it can be used to enforce this law, promote and improve creativity and artistic skills as well as promote and preserve works which depict a cultural identity of Malawi. It further expects the society to, through the fund, pay proceeds from the fines paid for infringement of the rights under this Act.

Artists claim that they have not heard anything from Cosoma as regards this fund even when this very section expects it to conduct civic education on the same.

The question could now be, what is keeping those officials busy at Cosoma when they cannot make a sound decision on a seemingly very simple and straight forward issue.

Are the artists safe under those that are running the show at Cosoma? And what is the mother ministry doing?

 

Reggae Lyrics and the Yesterday Youth


There was a time when legendary Wambali Mtebeti Mkandawire jokingly told a group of us that had he been playing reggae, no one around would have been his match.

Then I have heard artists like Tiwonge Hango saying they have to do a lot of groundwork in order to break the market for the kind of traditional music, which they play, while there seem to be a ready market for reggae to those that know how to do it well.

Why is it that reggae has managed to find room in the hearts of a many music lovers in the country?

When the youth that are middle age now were growing up, there seem to have been a proliferation of reggae music to an extent that those that had many a lyrics in their songbooks earned themselves respect.

One other aspect that also helped a lot at that time was the philosophy and positive teaching from reggae music, which to an extent helped or traumatised the duty of parenthood.

To an extent, music moulded the quality of education that was on offer then. Have you heard grandparents whining that their form four grand sons and daughters cannot stitch a sensible English sentence while at a Standard six level of that time our grandparents could advance an English debate that could carry the day.

The traumatising part with reggae, which I do not desire to dwell on today, is the question of ‘International Herb’ in the reggae music, which is encouragement to the smoking of Chamba.

Those that fell for it either succeeded with their studies or fell by the wayside, while others found themselves preaching senselessly along the streets while naked while the lucky ones found themselves at Zomba Mental Hospital, St. John of God Mental facility in Mzuzu or Bottom Hospital in Lilongwe.

Those that took the positive meaning out of the reggae music that was available then triumphed because they were good at the English language, which sometimes would be a barrier to all other subjects that the school was offering.

Reggae, like most music is transmitted alongside a lyrical content that needs full attention for anyone interested in message other than the accompanying instrumentation.

Take for example the track TRUST ME from the album of the same name by the late Joseph Hill who later in the days used to play under the name of Culture. Below are the lyrics of the song Trust me.

Reggae Music for a reason
You see you can play it under Jah season

I play reggae music in the middle of the street
Play reggae because it’s our beat
Play reggae music because it was ordered by the Messiah Marcus Garvey

Trust me, trust me, trust me
Why don’t you trust me, trust me, trust me

Allow politicians to fool you again
Allow a lawyer to plea your case
Allow the doctor to poison you
And even the minister to indoctrinate you

You trust the teacher to teach your children
Trust the mechanic to build your car
Trust the carpenter to build your house
And yet you don’t trust your brother at all

You don’t even trust yourself
Please be yourself

You trust the media to give you a news
And my simple words you do refuse
You don’t trust Rastafari
You won’t even listen to I and I and I

I stand up for the rights of every man
Just lonely as long as I can
We can win the victory
To fight on for humanity

Nine holes are in the human body
Seven of them are in your head
So why don’t you clean up your life
And try and live just like the Congo Natty Dread

One mother you’ve got
I must remind you
And you must respect her to the highest level I say man

Although the lyrics in this song cannot make you change your religious belief but it will at least give you a positive reason to fight for your cause.

In general in the song Hill who was of Rastafarian life had problems with people who could not trust him as a musician with his counsel but could listen to politicians, lawyers, doctors etc.

If you look at how reggae spread throughout the country at that time you could tell why even when bands like Kalimba, Makasu came on the scene this the route they took is, remember ‘Sometimes I Wonder’ or ‘Let’s Talk it Over’.

Even when Alleluya Band came on the scene, reggae was the route they took and I do not need to tell you about stories of Joseph Nkasa and friends whose locally blended reggae beat has made them get riches that even surprised them.

Reggae, which originated from Jamaica, influenced the reasoning of the Malawian youth then and to an extent now. Because even when American Gangsta music has come over, the violence message that is its major theme has not moved any sensible youth, but to an extent it has killed youthful interest in reggae, which has resulted into a number of negatives including poor educational performance.

Music is an influential aspect to life and it is not just any other music but particular genres have particular influence due to its style and to an extent its lyrical authority, which is very perceptible in reggae music.

 

Nkasa’s musical confusion


Joseph Nkasa, the touted wordsmith is a unique musician on the local scene for more than one reason.

Like a bee to a flower, politicians have always been attracted to him. But politicians being what they are only use him for a particular purpose and once that has been achieved they tend to leave him waiting for unfulfilled promise. They behave like bees indeed, once they get the nectar from an attractive flower, and then it’s a done deal.

Former President Bakili Muluzi got attracted with his fame and as he had successfully done with Lucius Banda, he wanted to rope in Joseph Nkasa to be in his hero worshiping team. He started by promising to buy Nkasa a vehicle.

Of course, the car never came and Nkasa composed the track ‘Anamva’ where he reminded the president about his promise.

Exit Muluzi enters Bingu wa Mutharika. The late Mutharika, according to Nkasa, promised to buy him a house due to ‘Mose wa Lero’ a track that indisputably helped Mutharika’s 2009 Presidential campaign.

Now if you look at all these happenings, one thing that is clear is that it was secular music that he used to touch base with personalities that were perched right there at the pinnacle of the country’s political authority.

Now when Nkasa came on the musical scene he truly came as a gospel artist. I should start by saying that ever since he started in 1996 his career to date has been decorated with 18 albums.

If you look at his first 4 albums you will appreciate his initial gospel bearing. He started with ‘Satana Waponya’, ‘Messiah Alikubwera’, ‘Ndigwireni Dzanja Yehova’ and ‘Kutha Kwafika’.

Now FOUR gospel albums, one semi-gospel of course, never did any good to Nkasa’s name. And what does he do? He decided to jump ship and turn secular with the album ‘Kupupuluma’.

Now after soaring so high with secular music and even after making himself a name he thinks he can go back and start all over again in the gospel music arena.

It is the word of God that Nkasa now tries to use in order to get money from politicians.

Joseph Nkasa composed a song for former minister of agriculture, irrigation and water development George Chaponda to douse fires that threatened to burn his political career to the ground.

To keep you in the loop, Nkasa’s song intended to spruce up the image of Chaponda who had been embroidered in maize transactions that had bedevilled by claims of corruption.

In the song Nkasa equates Chaponda to Joseph, one of the 12 sons of the Biblical Isaac who became a defacto ruler in Egypt after being sold there by his brothers due to his closeness to their father.

He further claims that Chaponda is paying for his mercifulness to help the hunger-stricken and that people are trying to make him lose ‘his ministry’.

Nkasa declares in the song that the stones that have been thrown at Chaponda with will accumulate to his advantage as he will use it to build a house which will make him the landlord.

In all this the meaning is that Chaponda will use the ridicule currently peddled about his involvement in the maize saga to become the leader of this country.

It looks Nkasa is always on the lookout for any political developments to jump on the perceived opportunity and compose a song. His latest toils is a track called Absalom in which he is attacking Vice President Saulos Chilima for trying to usurp the position of President Peter Mutharika and contest for presidency using a Democratic Progressive Party ticket.

When he did Mose wa Lero for Bingu he claimed never to have received ‘enough’ money with the hit single. But this remains disputable because he has now gone to bed with different politicians for the sake of money.

Nkasa composed a song for the then parliamentary Speaker Chimunthu Banda when he stood for DPP Presidency, but it emerged that it was not successful at all as Chimunthu tumbled miserably.

After the Chimunthu debacle he went into an agreement with PPM’s Mark Katsonga who allegedly paid K7 million for political songs, jingles and live performances all to discredit Joyce Banda government and prop up the name of PPM’s torch bearer.

While the effectiveness of this project had not even materialised, Nkasa joined the PP ranks and did a track for Joyce Banda whom he had discredited in the other tracks.

The JB track which was first heard on her Ufulu Radio and state owned MBC presents a litany of development achievements of the President and why she would be voted to retain power.

While I can neither accuse Nkasa for his lack of ethical sense nor the politicians for taking any routes to seek vain glory, one thing that is clearly standing out is that Joseph Nkasa does not believe in what he sings.

 

Snoop Dogg’s way of remaining relevant


Snoop Dogg is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, television personality and actor who is never short of controversy. Real name Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. the 46-year-old American has within 6 years tried to remain relevant by turning to reggae music, before going back to his rap genre. Now he has taken another leap into the Gospel fold.

He was discovered by Dr Dre in 1992 when he launched his music career and he has since sold over 23 million albums in the United States and 35 million albums worldwide. Around 2013 he was worth an estimated $110m.

For over two decades that he has been in music industry, Snoop is considered rap’s great survivor considering that he still remains successful when many of his contemporaries are dead.

All this standing did not however stop him from going to Jamaica in 2012 where he announced his conversion to Rastafari and adopted a new moniker; Snoop Lion that in early 2013, coincided with the release of his reggae album ‘Reincarnated, and a documentary film of the same name that talks of his Jamaican experience.

Many, especially Rastas, did not believe that this gun-toting gangsta-rapper has embraced the peace-and-love principle of Rastafarian livity. Reggae legend Bunny Wailer who at first welcomed Snoop to the fold later said he felt betrayed. Bunny Wailer like most Rastas felt the US Rapper was a phoney who let down the Rastafarian community.

And what with his thirteenth and fourteenth studio albums, Bush, released in May 2015 and Coolaid, released in July 2016 respectively which marked a return of the Snoop Dogg name.

The same is the distrusting feeling with his turning into a Gospel artist while trying to ride on the back of his mother Beverly Tate, an evangelist whom he is also featuring in his gospel album.

In October last year Dogg released his first Gospel song called Words are few which features gospel artist B-Slade (formerly Tonéx) before releasing a Gospel album this year “Snoop Dogg: Bible of Love.”

Although the album has gospel and R&B heavy-hitters like Tye Tribett, the Clark Sisters, Faith Evans, and Rance Allen it still fails to remove doubters from the picture.

In several interviews Dogg says it’s not about money; it’s about spirit… And those that are not happy that Dogg, a secular artist has migrated to the gospel music, should realise that the Devil is a liar…

In an interview Snoop is convincingly arguing that he thought the church is supposed welcome sinners. Because if the church was full of saints it wouldn’t be right. So if one finds somebody trying to find their way home the natural thing to do is provide warm welcome.

We have several examples in the country where the movement has always been one way; from secular to gospel music. Remember San B, Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Evance Meleka etcetera. It was only Geoffrey Zigoma who on several occasions went back and forth.

Much as these would stick to their story that there was indeed a religious conviction for the switch, for Snoop Dogg, with what transpired before when he briefly became Snoop Lion, there will be a need of serious convincing that he has made a genuine transformation.

After over 20 years of doing rap music that was propagating the other side of what Gospel music preach, it will be a matter of time to establish whether or not Snoop Dogg is for real or is trying to stay relevant. If one reads between the lines they might be tempted to see it as the same as Snoop’s holding of the dubious distinction of having 17 Grammy nominations without a win.

 

Unwarranted attacks on Kuimba 11


There seems to be people in this country who just love to hate. And if there is one grouping that has grown thick skin because of endless attacks on their works then it is the reggae outfit from Chileka, the Black Missionaries.

The past few weeks we have seen people from all callings including some from the media and even from the music industry picking on the four tracks that the Black Missionaries, fondly called Mablacks, has released in readiness of their ultimate issuing of Kuimba 11 album.

The tracks released on Friday April 20, 2018 include Zofuna Mtima Wanga, Umboni, Special Lover and Mbusa and like is the case every time they are about to release an album the noise is always deafening.

Several reasons could explain the source of such noise. One is because people in this country are always envious of those that they think are doing well. Be it in politics, business, religion, soccer and even witchcraft those that excel will be called names.

Come to think of it, before everyone has been trying to compare the current Black Missionaries of Anjiru, Chizondi and Peter to the one led by Evison, and Musamude. The comparison has always favoured the fallen band members.

And yet what is funny is that even when Evison Matafale and Musamude Fumulani were there, the three were around as well. In fact most of the tracks that we think were the best then, were composed by the very same people we now vilify.

If you ask me, even when Evison or Musamude were to be around, the same people who claim that the current Mablacks is failing, would still have faulted them.

You know why I know so? It is happening to Lucius Banda who has been there long before the Black Missionaries. Every other time Lucius releases an album people condemn it saying Son of the Poor Man was the best.

Our challenge as a people is always to think that what we are familiar with from our past is the best. You can just hear old ones boasting that they had the best childhood unlike the current youth who are corrupted by the video games and smart phones.

What is funny though is that how could they compare themselves to the current youth when all their playtime was dominated by imitating a hyena or creating cray car toys?

The same is happening to music. These old-cray-toy-car-making-youths cannot like the same kind of music that the present smartphone youth root for.

People ought to live with the fact that times are changing and therefore even music won’t remain static; it will keep being transform to suit the modern ear.

I am saying all this if the argument is that Mablacks are no longer sounding like before. I however strongly believe that this would be a lie because Mablacks have not changed their mission. Their music would still make Matafale and Musamude proud, knowing that they are indeed perpetuating the mission.

Hello! Please give it to the Blacks. We are talking of eleventh album. May be you are not aware, Matafale only managed Kuimba 2 with the Black Missionaries having done Kuimba 1 with the Wailing Brothers. Mablacks have then gone ahead to release nine more albums on their own.

When Musamude was passing on, he had just finished recording Kuimba 6 with his younger brothers and they are now doing a fifth album after his demise.

How many bands have died for various reasons? The question should be what has made the Black Missionaries tick and continue releasing one album after the other not to mention their hard work on the road when others have fallen by the wayside?

There are many factors before one has to consider before attacking the band.

They have selflessly tried their best to serve this country musically.

It’s also our choice as consumers to go for those that we think are doing the best music that pleases us. The least we can do if we do not like the Black Missionaries is to keep quiet and let them be.

Whither Malawi’s Royalty Collection


The Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) was established in 1992 and it operates under the 1989 Copyright Act which protects copyrights and “neighbouring” rights in Malawi.

Although the Registrar General administers the Patent and Trademarks Act, which protects industrial intellectual property rights in Malawi, Cosoma has a very central role in this aspect.

In April of 2015 I wrote that the rules that govern the World Trade Organisation (WTO) allow Malawi because it is only a less developed country to delay full implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) agreement until 2016, which is two years ago.

Government through the Industry and Trade Ministry was also working with Cosoma and the Registrar General to align relevant domestic legislation with the WTO Trips agreement with technical assistance from the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (Aripo).

Under this arrangement Cosoma partnered with privately owned Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) to be using an electronic system that has been able to capture all musical works performed or played on the radio for the purposes of collecting royalties. At the moment I am not sure where we are now.

I also explained that there are three ways that musicians in Malawi can earn through royalty collections. Cosoma collects mechanical royalties that it gives to an artist after they record with a record company; broadcasting royalties that comes from air play of an artist’s music by a radio or TV station as well as; public performance royalties which is the money that the artist earns when his or her music is played in public places like bars, public transport system, hotels etc.

At the time Dora Makwinja, Executive Director of Cosoma explained that in the past they used to keep data on sales of music by authorized distributors especially those that they had given licenses.

She said when Afri Music Company was in the business of producing and distributing music they used to have a good database of record sales and even for others who were also in the same business because there was some kind of control.

Now, with parallel markets where musicians are also selling their own musical works, it is difficult to have a complete data of the record sales and therefore there is a huge loss of royalty collection.

Before, she said the system was beneficial to musicians like in 2009 when one musician Lawrence Mbenjere set a new record when he became the first musician to cart home money in excess of over K2.5 million in royalties.

There were also challenges in collection especially in broadcasting royalties, where some radio station including the state owned broadcaster the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) would fail to remit the royalties and at one time in 2013 MBC owed Cosoma K8 million.

The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) announced that it has acquired a machine called Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (CIRMS).

Cosoma Senior Licensing Officer Rosario Kamanga had indicated at the time that CIRMS, otherwise also known as the Spy Machine would help them manage broadcasting royalties because other broadcasting institutions were neither logging the number of times they had played music of artists nor indicating at all whether they had played it or not.

With the Spy Machine in full gear it remains to be seen how these is now helping musicians in terms of royalties.

By the end of the day what is paramount is ensuring that the musicians get sweets out of their sweat. I just hope Cosoma has the answers.