Uganda’s Music a sea of misery with islands of pretences.
In parts one and two, I was laying the foundation of this subject. In this third and final part, I now tackle the issue and conclude with a painting of the real face of our music indusrty.
I concluded part two, with a point to think over . Its that point and many others that I will summarise with .
Like i said earlier, the dominant music Signatures in Uganda, don’t have many songs . Indeed this is not only here home, but world over.
Peter Andrew other than for his 90s single, “Mysterious girl,” his name is not known beyond this truck. However, it’s a record still worth listening too.
The coming in play of FM radio stations around 1993, gave an uplift and a new direction to our local music. First the radio stations were Mostly English speaking . 88.2, Sanyu Fm forexample, save for African express that ran on Saturday eveinings, didn’t have any programme that would be space for our local music, that much. Even in African express, it was still the hangover of Congo music that had the space.
91.3 capital FM, was, unlike Sanyu, a variety station. I do recall a jingle that went ” variety, is a spice of life. Capital FM………” Capital supported local music but the question is what type of music?
With their audiences relatively similar capital and sanyu nearly shared some music although sanyu was too teenage driven . Capital was a station above the teenage bracket. In this, it chose a few songs from local artists. I must say kads band, Afrigo, amigo wawawa, and again Philly Lutaya, Sammy Kasule, Alex Mukulu’ Banakampala, are the types of songs that found their way on the play list.
Local kadongo kamu, was gradually denied audience in the face of the New stations. This mothered the contemporary Ugandan music on its waves.
Be that as it may, on the other hand, in 1997, came radio one FM 90. This was in its own league. Its music was distinct from the two stations mentioned earlier. The very first song Radio one played on air, showed its an 80s oriented station. AINT NO STOPPING US NOW by Mcfadden.
By now, few musicians found their way to the listeners . With local production starting to pic shape, record labels like No end entertainment of Steve Jean, came up. Dungeon studios by Peter sematimba among others cropped up as well.
Other entities like soul Disco, Deluxe disco gave the race pace and shape. Slowly the Congo based artists were swept out.
A remake of old kindergarten rhymes and primary school songs with a blend of western rap styles was the order of the day. Dan Kazibwe aka Ragga D, Shanks VV D, Rasta Rob MC, Emperor Orlando, Menton summer, Menton Paddy, took the mantle.
I have a friend who did the back up vocals in the signature Dungeon production “Kakokolo” he gave me a narrative how their passion to this record, was cemented to build a signature mark in Uganda’s music. I know “Jaco” you still hold this true.
So this new twist in Uganda’s music, was reflectory that the industry had not yet got a definitive line or genre.
It should be recalled that when the Pearl Of Africa Music Awards was still on, It was disturbing to place some songs in which category. The artist of the year, would sometimes emerge as afrobeat singer of the year.
It’s hence clear that although the radio stations gave our music light, our music until lately, is short of a particular genre.
When the trinity of brothers emerged latter in the early 2000s, -Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi wine, Joseph Mayanja aka Dr . Chameleon and Moses sali aka Bebe cool, Uganda’s music took a whole new direction.
Irrespective of their present definitions and aspirations, I still look at them as the three guys that totally revolutionalaised Uganda’s music. Popular word on streets is that chameleon chased away Congolese music.
The three started with dance hall raggea. Most clubs were dominated by a chaka Demus and pliers duo, for a Friday night old school. Shaba Ranks, Shaggy and buju banton to mention but a few. If you ever stepped in a “disco” and the Dj doesnot play “headshigh” or “Mr. Loverman” or “too young to be my lover” that was a night wasted.
On the other hand, if the DJ missed “feel me flow” by naughty by nature still it was a night wasted.
One night though, Ange Noir or “club ange” as was called. ALEX NDAWULA was the man behind the TT he played MC Kruez’s “Party all night.” It was the first time white smoke was let out in a club in Kampala. Guess what!!! nearly ange remained half empty. People ran out.
However these three new kids on the block, slowly took centre stage with bobiwine’s kagoma blending all clubs local and central.
The next generation of musicians directly or indirectly, hence, came from these three. Now this is where another challenge comes in. Most musicians lack originality. They don’t have a definition. While the three Bobi, Cham and Bebe, were not yet fully established a case in point Joseph Mayanja, gambled with style. He was seen take the line of Tanzanian and Kenyan styles during that time when the two countries dominated the region ‘s music. Latter, he settled home to do club versions of his style.
On the far side, was another group called Clear kut.
Clear Kut was an amalgamation of three hip-hop passion driven friends Papito, The Myth and Navio, they struggled to have an audience that understood their music, something that was hard, given the history I discussed in parts one n two.
I must say those of us who attended transday groves at Club international Muyenga , heritage , Nsambya appreciate the myth was a force to hip-hop. But we were a very small audience to influence the audience to which hip-hop was allien. It’s until yesterday in his working with Vinka, Nwagi in the Amaaso remix, that we can arguably say, The Myth the broke the wall.
Who sets the pace of our music. Is it us the listeners or its the artists?
Its hard to tell Alex Mukulu to come up with a song that will go viral today. But its very easy for Eddy Kenzo to do a song on Monday and by wensday its got 2 million viewers.
Its hard to listen to a Bebe cool song while on a country drive and enjoy it the same way you would if u were watching its vidoe.
Its hard to step to a music shop in Uganda (if any) and ask for an album of Haruna Mubiru just like its hard to pick your phone and request for any song of Coco Fingure.
Its easier to recall the name Madona and her Material gal song, than to recall that Angella kalule was a force during the katikitiki time.
Its easier to list and recall three songs of lucky dube than to recall one song of Shanks VV D? Why yet both, around the same time, had songs!!!
Moses Sekibogo, alias Radio passed away on Feb 01, 2018 despite his absence, his songs command audience than ten living artists who started singing prior to Moses ‘ epitome of his career, including his dualmate Weasel.
This is where the first concern rests. What fails our musicians to hold the mantle? Is it the quality of music? Is it the fast changing aspects in the industry?
When it comes to production. There are so many contemporary modern studios and producers . From Muswangali Makindye, came then Muyenga based Swangs Avenue. A production label that has shaped talent in our industry today. Among others are Team No Sleep all not far from good work.
However there seems to be a missing point in the working relation of these labels and the musicians and their works. The labels seem to exploit the musicians . Their contracts should be given keen attention. Its not by coincidence that a label like TNS is having friction with two notable musicians in a spell of less than three years. Something is not right. How are these works paid for? Who has rights over what? If these areas are not sealed, most musicians are ridding on losses. They are left in misery they are entangled in a machine that just exploits them.
Few musicians do have capability to support them selves in terms of song writing, video shooting and song marketing.
This has left most of them cheated . Others have given up the industry.
Even from the meagre resources they get, they live a luxurious life style. They inevitably find them selves in a dreamline that they are celebrities.
This sees them live in denial. Not every one who picks a microphone is a celebrity neither is everyone a musician.
Many are entertainers who misread the stage to claim to be musicians.
Focus is hence laid on uplifting a lifestyle far from their reach , than concentrating on making real music.
Others don’t understand their comparative advantage. Most female artists are fit and neat for simple family occasions like introductions and birthday or bridal showers. Where they can star as entatainers, a line they deny and hence ride in areas not for their calling.
Musicians have a managerial problem. Most managers exploit and poorly handle the meagre resources acquired from sleepless nights .
Others are under the threat of drug abuse. Its miopic to believe that drugs shape career better than to water it down.
Seeking cheap popularity and self proclaim. A musician comes up with three songs . The fourth song will be named bampalana!!!!! (They hate me).
Excitement has seen some as soon as they enter the game. They fail to make it just like their managers fail to make the a product to stand the test of time.
A few months ago, there was a wave of a young seven year old fresh kid. Where he is me n u know not.
Our industry has now picked shape. Its moving to another stage. Our artists need pay keen attention to their music. Or else many will fall as soon as they come.
The writer is an advocate and Historian.