Masculine and feminine lyrics

music stage band

By Harold Kapindu

Song writing is a skill. Some were born with it while others learn from friends and in arts schools. Some artists are good stage performers, singers or songwriters. If an artist possesses all these three qualities then that makes them great.

Songs with general themes are easy to write and can be done by anyone. But when it comes to love songs, one thing that most songwriters tend to overlook is the difference between masculine and feminine lyrics.  Listening to most Malawian songs, one is likely to hear a male artist admiring or complaining of his husband and the converse is true with female artists.

For some reason, most artists think if they write a song then they have to sing it. This is selfish and it doesn’t work like that. Our western counterparts write songs for each other. They either sell or give for free depending on their record label contractual agreements.

For instance, there are good songwriters like Sean Garret, R. Kelly, Babyface, Jessie J among others who have written hit records for other artists even before their solo careers took off.

Songs with a feminine message should be done by a female whereas songs with a masculine message should be done by a male. It sounds awkward to hear a male singing “I love my husband” or “My husband please change your behaviour” and so on.

These are the issues that need to be addressed though networking. There is a need to have workshops and trainings. The cheapest platform is through social media forums but unfortunately most forums are being abused. Mostly they are used to insult each other or discuss trivial issues such as beef.

South Africa is holding its first annual Hip Hop summit where they will discuss issues related to their industry, this is something worth emulating.

There has been an outcry that Government is not doing enough in supporting arts and creative industry. We know building arts schools is a nonstarter but there are some small interventions that it can do. Organising small arts workshops and trainings to perfect artistry is the starting point. A simple song writing training would suffice at the moment .

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#OPINION: The Trap Squad situation

By Harold Kapindu

Pop music lovers remember Backstreet Boys, NSYNC or Spice Girls. R&B fans remember B2K, Destiny’s Child or Silk. Hip Hop heads remember Almighty RSO, EPMD or Grave Diggers. The question is where are these groups now? The obvious answer is they don’t exist anymore. They parted ways.

No matter how close people may become in a group, at some point they grow apart. It may be because of age; members grow up and get married whereby having huge responsibilities or simply having different ideologies as they grow older. In some cases, some members feel they have become bigger than the group prompting them to pursue solo careers. Or it might be because of greediness.

Lately, we have seen Blantyre based urban music group, Trap Squad members going back and forth on social media and on radio. Apparently, Sir Patricks and Stich Fray have left the group. The rumour was they were to be signed to Dan Lu’s label but the two artists in question denied the rumour. Then the remaining group members went on Joy Nathu’s “Made on Monday” radio show where they accused Sir Patricks of greed and coaxing Stich Fray to leave the group.

But, was going public a good idea or it was just another publicity stunt? We have seen groups breaking up or members leaving the group without anyone noticing. A break up story would come up when fans noticed that there was something wrong.  Questions would be asked after noticing that a member was missing at a concert or not appearing on an album.

Yes, there was no Facebook or Twitter but they had MySpace. They never took to their MySpace or went on radio to announce their exit from a group.

Some groups break up for good while others break up and reunite. Even the mighty WU-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep once broke up.

Where there are two or more people conflicts will always arise. What matters is how do you resolve those conflicts? Addressing internal issues in public is not a good idea. This only strips off your integrity as human beings. Remember, you are a human being before an artist.

 

#OPINION: Collaborations or Features

By Harold Kapindu

Collaborations or features play a significant role on an artists’ career. In most cases, up and coming artists collaborate with established artists when they are making an entrance in the industry.

We have seen this working for artists like Akon who collaborated with legendary rapper Styles P on “Locked Up”, Chris Brown’s collaboration with Juelz Santana on “Run it” and locally, Tay Grin’s collaboration with David Kalilani Formerly known as Stix on “Break Out”. Mind you, artists like Styles P, Juelz Santana and Stix were already big artists and the collaborations worked out for Akon, Chris Brown and Tay Grin who were new to the industry.

Collaborations also help artists to expand their fan base. When artists collaborate, they introduce each other to a new fan base for a respective artist. A good example is a collaborative effort between Nas and Junior Gong on “Distant Relative” EP. The EP introduced Nas to the reggae fraternity while bringing Junior Gong closer to the Hip Hop community as well.

Of recent, we have seen musicians collaborating with DJs and producers. Collaborating with a DJ is important since DJs are either on radio or performing in gigs. This helps push the music and the featured artists. Producers and musicians easily create masterpieces when there is great chemistry. The chemistry between DJ Premier and late Guru always stand out in this respect.

Collaborations must be strategic. Artists should know what they are looking for in collaboration. I have noted with great concern that most Malawian artists collaborate for the sake of just doing a song. No plan whatsoever. This is a waste of time and resources. In every endeavor that an artist is taking must be valued in monetary and career terms.

Tay Grin and Zani Challe must be applauded for the strides they are making in flying the Malawi flag so high. Tay Grin’s recent collaborations with Nigeria’s 2Baba and Orezi and Zani Challe’s collaboration with Patoranking are quite strategic and seem to be working out for them. This is something that budding artists must learn. Collaborate to progress and not to impress.

#OPINION: Stop the nonsense!

By Harold Kapindu

Local media has lately been attacked by artists for favouritism. Some disgruntled members in the arts world have taken to social media claiming print and electronic media practitioners pay attention to selected individuals while sidelining others even if they have something worthy talking about.

I find this discussion rather irrelevant. My point has always been that artists should have management and public relation teams to act on their behalf when dealing with the media. I have noted with great concern that most artists become untouchables when they have one or two hit songs. They feel media should chase them for stories and updates on new material. This is absurd.

If you want to make it in this industry you need to have connections. Yes, an artist has to have high self-esteem but arrogance and individualism won’t take you to greater heights. Know who does what to do what you need at a particular time. You need to know producers, brand managers, radio personalities and showbiz journalists.

Having your song being uploaded online or played on radio is not good enough. Not everybody downloads and streams music online, listens to radio or watches TV; you need to push your material in different avenues to attract a wider audience. For instance, press releases to print media to target those that read newspapers, magazines and online tabloids to target social media fanatics.

Showbiz is about pulling stunts in this hashtag generation. Stunts help you get publicity because when you have done something it trends and people talk, tweet and post about it. In show business, they say “Negative or Positive publicity is all equal to publicity”, however, be extra careful when pulling stunts. Some stunts will ruin your career and reputation; this is where brand managers come in to protect you as a brand.

Being an artist is not cheap. The way one carries themselves matter. People take you seriously if you are also serious with what you do. Journalists go after somebody who is relevant and makes news. Not every Jack and Jill that has a song is newsworthy. Do something that makes news otherwise take a chill pill and stop the nonsense!

 

 

 

#OPINION: Invest in artist IT training

By Harold Kapindu

Malawi needs a hefty investment in artist Information Technology (IT) training to be at par with the rest of the world. Government has failed in arts investment forcing artists to become ignorant in technology. As a matter of fact, artists should be computer literate at a tender age so that they shouldn’t struggle to cope up with internet services in this generation.

To begin with, Malawi has struggled to develop since gaining its independence in 1964 because of computer ignorance. Most Malawian public schools start offering computer studies at Secondary level. Worst still, they only teach basic programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Students learn how to use the internet at a very late age.

In the west, our friends become computer literate at a tender age and start music and video production while young. This helps quite a lot because as they are growing physically and mentally, production and computer skills also grow in them.

Everything is going online in this modern world. The coming in of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp) has forced corporations to change from traditional ways to online. Prominent news outlets such as BBC, CNN and Sky News among others are all making sure to make their social media presence known.

The coming in of local news and file sharing websites like Nyasatimes, Nyasashowbiz, Mvelani, nyimbozathu.com  and Malawi-Music.com has made it easier for people to have access to local music and  helped many Malawians in Diaspora in keeping up to date on what is happening on the ground.

Nowadays people prefer checking their news on Facebook and Twitter pages because it is cheaper and faster as compared to buying a Newspaper. Gone are the days when file sharing was done via CDs, it is now simple to upload and download. WhatsApp has become popular for file sharing and communication.

However, as ridiculous as it may sounds, it is quite embarrassing that some top artists and promoters don’t even know how to use social media platforms. When dealing with social media one is required to stay online frequently because this is a fast generation that requires interaction and instant responses, otherwise the youthful fans take you as old fashioned and boring.

How much per download?

By Harold Kapindu

Weeks ago, I was privileged to co-host “Friday Lounge” show on Timveni radio with my good friend, singer/producer/radio presenter Dizzo and Matilda. Luckily, the topic of discussion was “How much are people willing to pay for a download?”I, being an online showbiz reporter and a social media expert, I was humbled and it was an honour to be on the show.

Many arguments were raised; suggestions and opinions were made as well as so many questions were left unanswered. One of the outstanding questions was how the download payments are going to be made considering the fact that only a few Malawians have Credit/Debit cards or VISA cards. However, a suggestion that websites should partner with mobile phone service providers was made.

Consequently, a few days after our discussion, Malawi-music.com, the country’s leading music file sharing website announced that in few weeks, artists with premium content would be contacted with instructions on how to acquire a username and password for the new site.

 

According to the website’s statements posted on online social media platforms, customers would be buying music direct from artists via a new section of the site that offers deals on brand new tracks.

The development is welcome but the pricing is questionable because according to the statement, each song would have a different price set by an artist. This is unfair. My argument is, established artists would be making more money than upcoming ones. For instance, remember how popular Black Nina’s “Chilawe changachi” was? Am sure, if it was on sale it wouldn’t make as much money as Piksy or Gwamba. I would love if Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) would quickly formulate a cyber sale policy and regulate the online sales.

On how much an individual are willing to pay, one fan clearly stated that she would pay nothing because she can manage to get any song for free. Producer Rebel Musiq said K750 would be fair considering how much is invested in a song production. K750 is almost equivalent to international price $0.99. However, Rebel Musiq was quick to point out that K100 would be realistic considering the economic hardships that Malawians are going through.

How local Hip Hop made it on radio – where we stand in 2015

Gwynz and Papoose Pic. from Facebook

Gwynz (left) and American rapper Papoose (right)

By Harold Kapindu

Not a long time ago, Hip Hop used to be a taboo in Malawi and it was unacceptable in many households to the point that Malawians once demanded for the removal of Channel O on DStv.

Then, the argument was that Malawi youths were being westernized and this was a threat on culture and lifestyle.

With that mindset, Hip Hop especially from the local scene could barely be heard on radio. MBC radio 1 and 2 were the only radio stations during this period.

With the coming in of Fm 101 Power and Capital radio, pressure mounted on the two state broadcasters and a room for competition was created.

DJ Dr. Gwynz introduced the first ever Hip Hop radio show on FM 101, “The Hip Hop Drill”. The show featured underground Hip Hop music from all over the world with a smaller percentage of local Hip Hop, perhaps because there was less material available.

Some of the few rappers that could be heard on Dr. Gwynz’ show were Blantyre based LC Definition, Solo, Comrades, Mo Efx (Barry One, Doxxy and Family) and Tendai (now known as Lomwe) while Lilongwe was being represented by KRT (Dominant One and Family), Cris Mak, X-Calibre, Blind Vision (Jinx and Native K) among others.

During this period, Chatrock was handling almost all the production from the South while Dominant One handled those from the Central.

Although rappers could get airplay, it was still hard to infiltrate the Malawi music industry because the show was coming at night from 22:00hrs to midnight only on Saturdays and the majority of listeners were Hip Hop heads.

MBC radio 1 and 2 were still reluctant to change, however, Petros Kubwalo managed to introduce a Hip Hop show called “Rap Attack” on radio 2 FM.

The show had potential but it never had much impact because rappers were never allowed interviews due to the station’s restrictions.

As the saying goes, “when one door closes another one opens”, rappers found solace at Capital FM when Nicole Masauli started hosting “Hip Hop against AIDS”.

The show became popular for its one on one interaction, diversity of music and it used to come in the morning around 10:00 am.

The show reached its peak when it hosted a live rap contest at Polytechnic in Blantyre where Prolific emerged victorious. Voice of America (V.O.A) radio presenter Lloyd Murray and Zambian rapper C.R.I.S.I.S were guest judges at this event.

“Hip Hop against AIDS” radio programme gave a break to artists like Chatrock, Nameless, Incyt, Adjust, Gospel and Prolific.

However, the show did not run for long, it was taken off air and Hip Hop fans went back to FM 101’s Hip Hop Drill.

kenny klips.jpg

Kenny Klip – Hip Hop Legend

This time around things had changed a bit; Dr. Gwynz was co-hosting The Hip Hop Drill with Kenny Klips and Sprite had also introduced a live radio rap competition on FM 101. After some time, Dr. Gwynz left FM 101 and Kenny Klips took over the show.

Sprite Hip Hop Show was like the foundation and when rappers graduate they would be chilling with the big boys on The Hip Hop Drill. The first Tay Grin song “Break Out” was premiered on this show by DJ Drew. Renegade, Pilgrim and N.I.C also came from this show.

When Klips took over The Drill, he brought a new breed in the name of WUN, Young K, Desert Eagle, Jinx, Devine Sense and Dice.

At this point, MBC was still struggling to have a Hip Hop programme of its own hence it started playing local Hip Hop randomly.

On a positive note, this is when rappers came out with breakthrough songs that changed the game. Real Elements – “These Elements” and “Nyambo”,  Basement – “Vimbuza” and “Banyamulenge”, Wisdom Chitedze – “Tipewe”, Physics – “Cholapitsa”, Comrades’ “Africa” and Young K – “Anankabango”.

Tay Grin’s “Ndalabwe” and “Two by Two”, WUN’s “Mbina” and Kenny Klips’ “Ntofu” also had a huge impact on Malawi music as the biggest local club bangers in the country.

Hip Hop being a competitive genre, beef is never inevitable. Beef may end an artists’ career while others capitalize on it to score points. Lomwe’s “Rumours of War” and “U don’t want it” were instant hits and became beef anthems in Malawi.

Producers Q Malewezi (of Real Elements), Kas Mdoka (of Basement), Tapps, Dare Devilz, Dizzo, Sonye and Dominant One came up with mind blowing productions which were creative and distinctive.

Many describe this period as the “Golden Era of Malawian Hip Hop” because radio rap had become interesting and entertaining.  This was also the period when Kenny Klips had left FM 101 for Joy Radio and DJ Lomwe had taken over The Hip Hop Drill.

Lomwe Performing on stage

Lomwe Performing on stage in SA

With Kenny Klips and DJ Lomwe secretly at war on who is the best Hip Hop DJ came a diversity of rap music in the country. Both DJs had their own understanding of Hip Hop.

But, they had one thing in common. They were both doing Hip Hop and Breakfast Shows so they would focus on raw/underground Hip Hop on Hip Hop shows while pushing commercial rap on prime time radio.

Hence acts like Basement, Real Elements, Tay Grin, Wisdom Chitedze, Black Squad Affiliates, Third Eye, Geni Black, Jolly Bro, Maximum Sentence, Dare Devils, Physics, Young K and many others could have radio buzz at the same time.

The Hip Hop industry had everybody covered from rappers, producers, DJs, dancers to journalists like Clifton Kawanga, Gregory Gondwe, Kimpho Loca and Sam Banda jnr.

Both English rappers like Gospel, Incyt, Third Eye and NIC could get airplay and coverage similar to their vernacular counterparts. This also applied to those that do “pure” Hip Hop like L-Planet, Doxxy and Black Mind and those that blend Hip Hop and local elements like Lawi.

The influx of radio stations and rappers becoming DJs also saw the expansion of Hip Hop base. Hip Hop could now be on radio rotation on almost all the radio stations.

The late DJ A.I and rapper/DJ Rina also played a big role in promoting local Hip Hop on Capital FM. Being rappers themselves, they could squeeze in an interview or a profile on a local rapper when they had a chance.

Vida

Lil Vee

On the other hand, Vida “Lil Vee” Germano had also introduced “Hip Hop for HIV” on FM 101 Power whereas David “Deep Poet” Kapezi and James Gumbwa were co-hosting “Born and bred” on Radio 2 FM. Both shows made a name for themselves for being active on social media which is now the biggest and fastest media in this generation.

Rapper – cum – Journalist, K-Bonnie joined Star radio and co-hosted “Youth Connection.com” with Yamikani Maganga. Star radio had a good signal reception in the north and this forced Mzuzu based rappers to follow the local Hip Hop scene.

Consequently, Star radio received tonnes of music from Mzuzu some of which were from Revolver, Slessor and Gud Fly.

With K-Bonnie’s Lilongwe background, he had easy access to Lilongwe music and little by little rappers like Kwame and Pittie Boys made their way on Blantyre based radio stations.

This was the genesis of the new era, the Gwamba phenomenon.

When Pittie Boys’ music invaded Blantyre colleges and neighbourhoods, Gwamba decided to pursue a solo career. He started coming to Blantyre to do collaborations with Hypa, Young K and Black Jak to familiarise himself with the Blantyre environment.

Soon as he established himself as a full time rapper, he got signed to Mike Chilewe jnr.’s now defunct Transformers music, then to Edward Kankhomba’s Prime Time Media before he partnered with Third Eye to form Soul Rebel Entertainment (SRE) which he has just left.

He now has Krazie G and Marste under his wings. The latter has one the biggest songs in the country, “Mwano”.

Currently, Classic (of Home Grown African), Mwanache, Sagonjah, Sage Poet, Kananji, E-word, Cash, Trix and producer Rebel Musiq seem to be the breed of Malawi Hip Hop waiting to take over.

Home Grown African

Home Grown African

Despite not being Hip Hop DJs, DJ Spyda, DJ Joy, James Gumbwa, Diktator, DJ Scarpper, DJ Maya, Grevaxio Mota, Anne Kadam’manja, Francis Dule, DJ Crystal and Mike C are doing a good job when it comes to playing local Hip Hop on radio whereby introducing local artists to a wider audience.

Back then, Rap was child’s play but now rappers are getting paid. The corporate world is now open for endorsements, sponsorship, bookings and Management labels signing rappers for commercial purposes.

Local Hip Hop producer Gemini Major just got signed to Cassper Nyovest’s Family Tree label which is a sign that Malawi has potential to make it big everywhere.

Nonetheless, when it’s all said and done, having shows like DJ Milatino and Black Mind’s Matindi FM Hip Hop show struggling to make it, the question remains what’s the future of Malawi Hip Hop? How is the new generation going to be groomed when all the relevant Hip Hop radio shows seem to be dying?

Remember, everywhere in the world where Hip Hop is big, every big rapper comes from Hip Hop shows before they make it in mainstream media. It’s only in rare cases where rappers simply breakthrough, most of them who do are habitually wack, Soulja Boy and Iggy Azalea for example.

As many may be aware, Soulja Boy blew up from social media, MySpace while Iggy Azalea blew up because of corporate imaging.