Malawi urban music has been blossoming over years. The contemporary form of music could be traced back when Hip Hop, Dancehall, Rn B, Pop, and rap were a taboo in the country. Traditional music was vocal, loud and it commanded a large following and sales on the Market. The odds were against this alien genre as it was deemed devaluing to the norms of a conservative society of Malawi. Fast forward 2016, a new twist of events have surprised the older generation, as they have not only entertained the genre but also embraced, celebrated and promoted it to the amusement of music lovers across the country.
Malawi urban music has evolved and survived the taste of time due to several factors. The genre lacked enough platform to be exposed. In the past, the only state controlled radio station then, ( Malawi Broad Casting Station), preferred playing culturally relevant songs with an african beat. Again, music producers had the audacity to select what songs to produce-since there were just a few of them in town. With the coming in of new radio stations, television stations, numerous music studios and the social media, the genre has penetrated and rooted in all circles of life across the nation. The publicity and exposure given to urban music has mushroomed both bubblegum and skillful talents that has been represented in the country, and across the globe. Penjani Kalua A.K.A Freddokiss, the Ghetto king, is an example of such gifted talent. Regardless of what people perceive of his artistic style and message, he has proved himself to be a true ambassador of urban music, and in my opinion offers three valuable lessons to the upcoming urban musicians in the country.
First, life is about putting priorities in order. Priorities in life provide a sense of direction. They fully reveal an individuals character-what he/she values to be important above other things and that is handled with urgency. Sadly though, most upcoming urban artists are setting their priorities the other way round. They are seeking, pursuing and slaving themselves for fame as their chief end goal. They are neglecting education; their hard earned incomes in bribing radio Dj’s; making collaborations; and music Videos. The Ghetto King Kong is what he is for he prioritized his education. The piece of not valuing education over fame amongst the upcoming artist leaves a lot to be desired. Talent has to be celebrated at all cost, but, education supersedes temporal benefits that might come as a result of fame.
Penjani thrived in his education and proceeded to the University of Malawi. The Platform to exercise his God given talent was created at home, because his priorities were in order. Urban music industry is marred with bubblegum artists who think there is a shortcut to success and fame. Not everyone can go to the university of Malawi neither is anyone barred from attempting to give it a try. Malawi has a lot of education opportunities that if seized would open doors unimaginable for the youngsters. Unfortunately, the aroma of lyrics originating from Freddokiss and other established musicians blinds young people to thinking they can as well make it, only if they work hard. Regrettably, hard work alone is not a key to success. Free advice: work smart and prioritize what is important first, and sky will be the limit. Education combined with talent unlocks doors beyond comprehension. Freddokiss, with the fame he has deservedly attained, it is tempting to live in the moment, burry his head in the sand, and think he has arrived. On the contrary, he still pursing his graduate studies, a clear validation of a visionary and purpose driven life he seeks.
Befriending radio Djs, music producers and television personalities is catastrophic priority in making a name in the music industry. The monitory sacrifice wasted in them if invested in education could save their future. The way out of any misery is not pursuing music at the expense of education. Now is the right time to re-strategize ones priority and learn from artist like Freddokiss who are passionate about music, and at the same time maximizing their potential through education.
Secondly, anyone can build their own empire. This life lesson is no way insinuating that people can do it alone without the help others. Human beings are not prone to circumstances that can derail them to greatness. Raised from a family where his dad is a prominent politician never clowned his brain to think he is the father himself. The dad made his own name of which could have been a motivation to surpass that standard. This would have gone two ways, either to relax and enjoy what dad has accomplished or be what he is today by working smart and hard for his own empire. He claims to have become a millionaire at the age of 23, a clear demonstration of an emperor ruling his kingdom. Interesting enough, one can hardly notice if at all they are related.
Sadly, the trend of most upcoming musicians prefer to build a name for themselves through collaborations.They want to associate themselves with a brand that would help them sell their products. To begin with, collaboration is an advertisement of artistic plagiarism, an open admittance that you can not sell your products because you don’t believe in its value. Don’t get it wrong, collaborations are meaningful to the established musicians. Initially, create your own brand, others will follow. And the insanity of Kwacha’s invested-it should be poured-in such collaborations, Music Videos and bribes in the name of promotion could be of value in solving most of social issues affecting the nation. Ones success should never entirely be based on someones success. You can learn from them to be better person but not necessarily use their value for making one’s name.
Lastly, successful people give back to society. Benjamini is one of the few urban artist that sees a value of giving back and realizing he is what is today because of people. He embarked on charity work through his organization ‘Ghetto Shoulder Initiative’ with the goal of reaching youth in need of education. He recognizes the power of what education can do. Prioritizing real priorities that would transform the community. Giving back to society is not only limited to money, his thoughtful and provocative lyrics is the other way he has given back to the society. His message is about tackling misery and oppression facing the ghetto youth and giving a voice to the voiceless.
If success comes by accident, artists engage in immoral behaviors. They cause controversies instead of being useful to the society that has made them. It is about blowing their own trumpet anyhow on how good they are in Music, the smartphone they are using and how many girls they have. Such noise is like a bubble that never last. The controversies and music beef come as a result of living a life in need of purpose. Success and fame come with a huge responsibility, not only to yourself but the community at large. Regardless how little or big your success is, giving back through kindness, affirmation and being a role model to others will always be cherished forever even when talent is forgotten.
The future of Malawi Urban Music lies in the hands of upcoming artists who can set their priorities in order. Artists who are not merely chasing fame and fortune,but are on a mission to serve and empower their community. Musical talent is a gift to be appreciated and celebrated; education too is a privilege and an opportunity thrown to everyone to be ceased. Bubblegum artists with horrible voices who prioritized their education are making noise on the airwaves since they can afford to promote themselves. The Ghetto King Kong is an example worth emulating, prioritize what is important in life, create your own empire through hard work and smartness above all value people around you.