Lucius Banda’s Life in 1 Hour 19 Minutes


One hour and 19 Minutes is the time that it takes one to listen to Lucius Banda’s latest album from the first track ‘Okondedwa’ throughout the other tracks to the last one, which is the title track ‘LIFE’ that has awaken the censorship board bull dogs.
Listening to the 15 tracks, one would still be left with the same Lucius Banda aftertaste.
The track ‘LIFE’ which is taking after the trademark that Lucius impresses on his album is what is in reggae known as ‘Dub Reggae Poetry’ styled after the Mutabaruka or Linton Kwesi Johnson productions in this regard.
First, let’s listen to the genres employed in the tracks ‘Okondedwa’, ‘Chikondi cha Ndalama’, ‘Tikamalira’, ‘Nsanje Ichepe’, which is reggae in play until ‘Matamando’, which has some disco elements.
Before I talk about the choice of genre in this aspect, let’s look at the other genres in the other tracks ‘Wadwalika’ which features Moses Makawa, for example. This one as expected is taking after ‘Kalata Yachiwiri’ which he featured Thomas Chibade.
In this track, Lucius’ complete departure of what we know of him makes you think the song should be ‘Wadwalika’ by Moses Makawa featuring Lucius Banda.
‘Du na-na’ featuring Tay Grin, has the confusion starting with the title of track. It has employed the pure Tay Grin trademark relating to Nyau beat that has made the hip-hop star cut his place as a traditionalist hip-hop artist.
‘Stacey’ featuring Chisomo, is a soft and gliding track which keeps you to catch your breath if you consider the journey through life that starts with the first track. I am impressed with this track because some of the lines that Chisomo brings were created right in front on my nose.
I had gone to talk with Lucius at Nyimbo Studios in Area 15 on this day when I found him recording this track. After listening to it, he just took a pen and a paper and added some lines and asked Chisomo to do them over and over again while we talked.
He reminded me of how Bob Marley used to produce some of his songs, where something that will only feature in a minute long song for 20 seconds will make the song delay for the whole month just to achieve the perfection that was already in place in his mind.
‘Amasowa’, track number 9 in the album, continues this soft tempo that tend to calm the nerves as the vocals and instrumentation both meet into a soft rolling soul.
‘Mamvera-mvera’ is a traditionally Malawi –Zambia genre because I have seen that artists from both side of the borders like to take after this beat. It is the kind that does not let you unprovoked when you are on a dance floor.
‘One More Chance’ which Lucius features 3rd Eye is a tradition pop genre which has managed to wear a local and foreign element with 3rd Eye hip-hop sprinkle.
‘Ndiwe Wanga’ featuring Mahlabe is a fusion of South African and Malawian beats which has created a half-caste genre which would still get a welcome in the two countries and even in other countries where it can pay a visit.
‘Pukuta Misonzi’ is a Tchopa track the type Lucius calls Malawian beat which he promised in the past would dominate his albums but failed to keep it.
‘Sendera Annie’ for whatever reasons is a love classic that is moving me on my seat every time I am listening to it and now I remember, the reason is because I also witnessed its production at Nyimbo studios.
Now, the traditional dub reggae poetry in ‘LIFE’ is the same one that pushed Lucius Banda closer to former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
Muluzi’s philosophy was; get your enemy closer to you so that they fail to plot your downfall a further.
Unlike his predecessor, Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika don’t want to see his enemies within vicinity and no wonder Lucius Music, which remained banned for sometime before it started getting back, will now see no light of the MBC day.
In all, the lyrical content of all the tracks except for a few, which is meant to be fancy other than communicate, the message is so powerful. If you will not like the beat you will not fail to fall for the message.
The clever aspect in this album is the collaboration with other artists.
But in other songs like ‘One More Chance’ I think it is meant to dupe the followers of local hip-hop genre, the featured 3rd Eye, seems, was in a hurry and did not give his all, the same is the case with Tay Grin, who despite his signature written all over the ‘Du na-na’ he does not come with his all.
Like most of Lucius Banda albums, ‘LIFE’ is not amongst his powerful work of art, it has failed to reach the bar that he has set for himself. I have said on these pages that my most powerful Lucius Banda album is ‘Survivors’ I am still waiting to see what will beat it.
This album, like most, will take its way into the market because it will be advertised by government’s resistance to let it play freely. It will wait until people got used to it before they can start buying it while with ‘Survivors’ or ‘Son of a Poor Man’ it sold by sheer ingenuity that was imprinted in them.
Nonetheless, if you are a collector and if you want to believe or disbelieve Lucius who once declared he has stopped singing politics, buy one CD copy which is going at a thousand kwacha.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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