The Zambian economy may have struggled over the past decade, but the Zambian Music Industry has enjoyed a smooth evolution to a much more contemporary level. With so much western influence taking course, the audience for this developed/ evolved music has come to surpass that of the more cultural and Zambian like music- Kalindula. Kalindula music has never really sounded different to our ears. It continues to bare the same old characteristics, but remains a successful genre.
Thanks to computer software, making beats has never been easier. Supported by advanced sound recording systems and the emergence of never seen before talent, nothing less than good music is expected. However, good music also depends on several other factors. Back in the day, competition between producers was not really defined. Today, Teyabana iyo (No kids allowed). In the past, a beat was either made at Roma side (TK), by Jerry fingers, Ben Blazer or sling beats.
But, today. Wow! Just Look at the work the new players have done. The likes of Dice, Shom-C ,Tonny Breezy, Cream Dollar, Tsean, MZenga Man, Vue Smallz, Skillz, Dj Buggar, Magg 44, Baska Baska and a lot more others. Who could have envisioned this back then? These players have redefined Zambian music. Their ever creative minds have produced ‘sick’ beats that leave you dancing, sentimental, in euphoria and decades later, will breed nostalgia in you.
Around 2008, Zambian music witnessed the birth of a Producer who has greatly contributed to the becoming platinum of musicians who have in turn influenced the game greatly. Baska Baska came on the scene as a master of unique beat creation. The way he played around with snares was very interesting. Dandy Crazy’s first Hit- Mami can be accredited to him.
But redefining music is never complete without the owners of the voices- the singers. First of all, salute to the legends, Mc Wabwino, Crisis Mr Swagger, J.k, Ozzy, Danny, K.Millian, Nasty D, Ba Crazy, Joe Chibangu, General Kanene, Slap D, Hamooba,TY2, Mozegetor, Macky 2,Roberto, Ruff Kid now known as Ruff Kaida, Alubusu mhsrip, Mampi, Shatel, Black Muntu, The third, Mainza, Pompi, Petersen , Danny Peddle among many others.
Today we accredit the evolution of the game to the present players. The industry is simply flooded, but standing out more than others initiates recognition. Also the consistency of some legends is simply stupendous, Jk’s for example. We celebrate the best that ever did it in the modern day: Macky 2, the genius minds Chef 187 and Stevo, the sweet voiced, Judy yo, Afunika, T.sean, Brisky, B.Flow,Salma, kantu, Pilato, B1, the unmatchable P.jay mhsrip, Dalitso, Kay Figo, Magg 44, Muzo, OC, Willz, Swish,Slap D, Jae Cash, Zone Fam, Bobby East, Abel Chungu and myriads more.
Technology has been a useful tool. Not only does it allow for easier production of music, it also enables easier distribution of music, given the escalation in the number of Zambians with access to the World Wide Web. Indimba.com is with no doubt the biggest Zambian online music distributor apparently. Packed with latest jams from well known artists, indimba.com allows you to pick out whatever hit (mostly done after 2012) you wish to have and what’s more? For free. However indimba does not give enough attention to underground or upcoming musicians just like most radio stations. Believe me there is so much talent out there that deserves recognition and if they are not supported, the growth of the industry remains stunted bearing in mind that variety is the spice of life. Why should an artist have to pay a local radio DJ to have their song played on radio? That is preposterous. Talented underground artists deserve every support they can get to make it. However, Zambianmusicblog.com does endeavor to feature a lot of upcoming artists and itsretunes.com is a great hub for contemporary gospel music lovers. All three websites are however doing quite the job though. We never had such 10 years ago. Music is easily ‘replicated’ in the process and everyone gets a copy, but beware of the rising piracy problem. Also the first ever Zambian music app called Zee music is available for download on ITunes and Google play. This one really supports so many underground artists.
Coming to music videos, we may want to focus on a particular trend setter: Jordan Katembula. By observing his videos from Ka gelo to Telemundo loving, you can nearly describe the transition of Zed music videos. I have never seen Zambians fuss so much about a Zambian music video more than when J.K delivered KapiriPiri. Yes, the beautiful Salma Dodia was on everyone’s lips (mostly because she was mixed), but how elegant and impeccable the video appeared is what made history. Zambia had for the first time seen a somewhat western video done by a Zambian. As J.K continued to produce more high definition pictures and winning awards for them, he started getting other artists out of their comfort zone to spend more on videos and today we have seen the plummet of videos shot using simple digital camera. Musicians are excelling at videos. Zone Fam have been good, Chef 187 just to mention a few.
If you look at the GBM video by Pilato, you may easily despise it because the setting is not really attractive. I think whoever directed that video is mad genius. Does creativity get any better than that? The gist is, artists are getting attached to the idea that a perfect music video is one that shows beautiful scenery. I mean why pretend. The industry doesn’t even pay that well and the owner of the car and money you flaunted will get his items back after the last scene is shot. The Amarulah video is really amazing, most spectacular; I mean why can’t we see it on Trace or Chanel O? Roberto is just as good as Diamond from Tanzania, but he isn’t being recognized as he should be. Anyway that is another story I will look at in part two, which will feature the international platform and Zambian music. So look out for it.
Lastly, the industry has become so vicious and entirely competitive. I mean do you remember how long it took for us to get over a hit more than a decade ago? Nasty D’s song lasted more than 18 weeks on the Local Rhythms Count Down, today that is impossible. There is always a new hit waiting to displace the current one. With creative artists like Macky 2 we are no short of hits. I picked the Local Rhythms Countdown on Radio phoenix, because it has been the most consistent chart that has represented the people’s choice. Seeing Five-four and Salma’s song on the chart showed that Zambians had started appreciating Zambian Hip-hop performed in English. Later, two of Camstar’s songs joined the chart. This was an evolution indeed. DJ scratch I believe from phoenix deserves some appreciation for having promoted this kind of hip-hop on his show every Saturday evening at 9.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out part two coming soon.