265 ARTISTS’ ENCYCLOPEDIA
Back in the days, we had very few urban musical groupings. Out of nowhere, there popped up a rather very youthful Rap crew under the name, The Basement. This was comprised of AB, Cyclone, and Randy. Through such hits as Banyamulenge, and Kadona Kanga, the trio formed a triple threat that shook the music podium, locally. Its music was everywhere from the dancefloors of Paris Night Club in Mzuzu, to the then Legends Night Club in Blantyre, and to the revered radio stations back then.
With time, each of the trio went solo. In 2010 AB released hit last album, Day One, which had smash hits like Double Diff, and Move Yosimphina. That however, also marked the last that the M-dubz fraternity was to hear from him. 265 started hearing less of AB. And finally, due to other reasons (highlighted in the later paragraphs of this profile) it was evident, he had taken a sabbatical.
Seven years later, Abambo AB has resurfaced. Like an old wine, he is as good as before, maybe even better. On the 1st of May 2017, he marked his re-emergence with a hit single, Chikutumbwe. Then came a collabo, Good Life, which he had featured Dan Lu and Barry Uno. That is just a tip of what an animal Abambo AB is, lyrically.
Musically, Abambo AB is more than a man. His lyrical masterly is upper class. His lyrical aptitude, many cannot match. But who is AB as an artist? How did he rose up to the ranks he is currently? What is his assessment of the M-dubz urban music? Who is the persona under AB?
This edition of 265 Artists’ Encyclopedia, we are featuring Abambo AB, whom we, at EM have christened The Musical Messiah due to his unsurmountable quest to change the status quo of a young Malawian out there.
- Birth name: Michael Kauka
- Date of Birth: 4 May 1986
- Birthplace: Likuni Mission Hospital, Lilongwe
- Origin of the name, AB: African Born, Animal Being
- Record label: Ulimbo Entertainment
- Genre: Hip-hop
WHO IS AB?
AB is just a simple being. Interacting with him, you can easily depict that he is just your average guy from the hood. He is that social human being who is striving to make a difference in Malawi and trying to inspire people across multiple generations to positively impact the nation, the continent and the world at large.
BRIEF LIFE HISTORY
Growing up in Blantyre, the then young Michael had a normal happy upbringing. Just like any average local boy of his age back then, he was one of those boys you could bump into playing football barefoot on dirty grounds, and getting into harmless mischiefs with his peers and all sorts of things. The days went by like that. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Of course, the young Michael was an outdoor chap. He liked being outdoors. Simply put, he was that energetic fella.
THE BIRTH OF AB
If we are to drive back through the memory lanes, we would discover that the current AB in Michael was foreshadowed as early as when Michael was in junior primary school classes. It was in here that he discovered he had a talent for creative writing (as early as Standard 3). Thus, before he realized he was going to be the modern day Abambo AB, creative writing was the first talent to have emerged out of the young Michael.
As he recalls, during his early years, he was very involved in arts such as drawing, and acting, among others. So Michael had always been very artistic. But the more the birthdays he celebrated, the more he started defining his destiny, artistically. It was during this period that he started dropping most of his artistic pursuit but somehow they ended up manifesting in a musical talent.
With time, writing short stories, poems, and plays were his everyday mincemeat during the teenage life of Michael. It was then this time that his close peers, having noted the craft that was in Michael, suggested to him to try transforming his art into lyrical writing as they (the peers) felt music was simply an expression of poems.
He tried. And typical of most first times, he was not that good. But he soldiered on. He kept on pushing hisself beyond the limit so as to perfect his newly found talent. He started learning from all good will persons who were there to lend a helping hand via their various positive criticisms.
Being an optimistic person, the then AB never relented when negative feedback headed his way; rather he turned them into motivation that kept him going so as to sharpen his craft.
So, such zeal and feedbacks from all and sundry ignited a passion in him and also that officially marked the demise of Michael, and the birth of an energetic lyrical monster, Abambo AB.
HIS CHILDHOOD PLAYLIST
The young AB back then had no specific music artist who was on his everyday song playlist. He could listen to whatever vibrated his eardrum and attracted his attention. This is why he is so flexible musically, despite being a hardcore rapper.
Going through AB’s narration, you would discover that he had no single specific fuel that motivated him; he had a lot of coaches along the way that have helped shaping him and improve his game.
Amongst the lot that inspired him, legendary Barry One reigns supreme as he contributed a lot to the musical life of Abambo AB. Barry One was the first rap guru whom AB personally met. It was an era where Barry’s music was everywhere so to the-then AB, interacting with such an icon was more than he could have bargained for.
That aside, artists like DJ Lomwe, DJ Kenny Klips, Chris Mack, P on the Board, and his peers from The Basement have had a meaningful impact in shaping AB’s musical career.
HIGHS AND LOWS
That Abambo AB is always optimistic is also easily evident in how he views his life both as Michael, and as Abambo AB as well. To him, he cherishes every moment that he spends. There is no single day he can pinpoint as to have been so dark. Rather, every moment is a blessing to him. He is of the kind who is always happy to share his talents with the world.
In the same way, both Michael Kauka, and Abambo AB live lives life of no regrets. To him, there is a lesson in everything people go through and he tends to not dwell too much on the negative things that happen to him. He regards such scenarios as learning moments.
THE ERA OF THE BASEMENT
In early mid-2000s, AB was part of the rap crew; The Basement. This rocked the M-Dubz musical podium through its enthusiastic lyrical punchlines and energetic voices. They rose to the stardom through their dancefloor shaker, Banyamulenge.
But how did this crew come into being?
According to AB, the crew members, AB, Cyclone, Randy were peers who grew up in the same neighborhood. As already stated earlier, the then AB was just new in the industry (writing and trying to rap) whilst the duo, who also happen to be Barry One’s blood brothers had a rather bigger interest in the rap game than AB. Funny that by then, AB was not aware of the duo’s prowess, though he knew them personally.
It was one of AB’s peers who tipped him of the duo’s music lives. Back then, during his secondary school days, AB had a rap group trading under the name, The Basement (which included an MC who would later become DJ Napthali, and an MC would later become Bossaro Ice, and a third MC).
So, having been introduced to Cyclone, and Randy, AB decided to amalgamate the two groups (his secondary school Basement, and the brothers). Unfortunately, it never worked out as his secondary school friends pulled out; leaving AB, and the duo. That, ladies and gentlemen, marked the birth of The Basement.
One hidden element about this group was that it had an in-house producer who later opted to be a silent member of the group. The rest, as they say, is history.
THE BASEMENT; THE AILING CHILD?
As the clock ticked, The Basement’s presence on the local music podiums withered. Each of the three started concentrating on solo projects. The country heard less and less of The Basement, even though individually, each of the three was making noise musically.
So, did this signify the death of The Basement?
“The crew did not collapse.” That is what AB would tell you.
According to him, the group had focused much on productions as a crew to the extent that the crew members had forgotten who they were as individuals, so the silence was just to give each other space to grow into the individuals they had wanted to be.
Abambo AB still insists The Basement is still there and emphasized that when each had started going solo, they were in good books and still are up to date.
ABAMBO AB’s SABBATICAL FROM THE BOOTH
After so many years in the booth, AB’s voice evaporated from the musical vicinity. Most of his faithfuls had no idea of his where-abouts.
To AB, the sabbatical was a calculated move. He had realized that for a larger part of his life, music was the dominant theme, so he had need to take a bow so as to discover his other identity outside music. He had wanted to grow and shape his future in the aftermath of the demise of his musical life.
That aside, he also had needed time to find himself after the shattering of HB Records following the death of a personal friend and musical colleague, Frank CN.
THE RE-BIRTH OF ABAMBO AB IN ULIMBO ENTERTAINMENT SKIN
For starters, Abambo AB is now under the management of Ulimbo Entertainmet under the steership of one Brian G Brains Simbeye. The duo, plus other members from the label have formed a formidable record label.
Here is how it all started. G Brains, the CEO for Ulimbo Entertainment had approached the rapper about making music using a studio setup that his friend (Mind Blowing) had that was just lying idle. Since AB had also been musically inactive for some time, he pondered on the idea and he gave it a trial so as to test the strengths of his lyrical muscles.
G Brains then introduced the rapper to his (Brains’) other colleague (8 Fat B) who is a singer, poet, actor and producer who in turn introduced the duo (Brains and AB) to a producer named Jay Kay.
One thing led to another and together, they formed Ulimbo Entertainment, signifying their vows to stick together and realise their dreams together.
So far, all is rosy for Abambo AB under his new lease of life in Ulimbo Entertainment.
Meeting AB, this is what he would tell you about his life under Ulimbo Entertainment.
“So far so good. We are still trying to understand each other and formulate what our thing is all about, but so far so good.” He said.
ABAMBO AB AS THE VOICE OF THE YOUTH
AB is one of the urban artists locally who is very much passionate about uplifting the status quo of a Malawian youth. His involvement in music has mostly been to inspire the Malawian youth to aspire and push for betterment of their lives.
He is of the view that if Malawian youths could fully utilize their God given talents, then we, as Malawians, can create a better environment for the youth of our time and beyond.
That aside, he also believes that artists, music artists in particular are vehicles of change. To him, a music career is similar to evangelism, with the artists as evangelists.
“As artists, sometimes we are like prophets like Moses; we can motivate and push people towards taking action to move to better places even if we have never seen or been to those places before ourselves.
Let it also be known that AB and Ulimbo Entertainment family are finalizing a campaign, rather, an evangelism of collecting books from private citizens who are not using those books on behalf of charity organizations to give to the people who need those books. This is aimed at inspiring and rejuvenating a reading culture in our nation.
THE BRIDGE TO THE YOUTH
From humble beginnings, AB, grew up the life of an average Malawian who, later, through his talents and efforts became admired and looked up to by many young people in the country. When they look at Michael Kauka, they see a true reflection of themselves as he represents their struggles, and their motivations as well.
In AB’s face, they see themselves too as he has been through the same pitfalls that they are going through and overcame/still overcoming most of them; it is AB through his music, that he is carrying their messages with the loudest and most critical voice to whoever cares to listen.
It is a fact that Malawi does not have enough average everyday role models from within its communities that are on the spotlight and have a message they know and the hearts of the youth. So, through music, Malawian youths are getting motivated to change their mindsets into being responsible and productive citizens worthy to be leaders of the country.
Abambo AB’s argument is so simple; since the nation is on a drive to mould strong leaders and productive citizens through a change of mindset, that begins with a change of words as all thoughts are words. And it is musical artists like him who have the words and the message and the ears and hearts of the youth and can easily relay the said information to the youths.
To the commercial world and all stakeholders working with the youth, here is one Abambo AB whom you can fully utilize simply by amplifying his platform so he can spread that message to the remotest parts of the country through his music and performance abilities.
John Maxwell, in his motivational book, 21 Irrefutable Laws of leadership, under the law of legacy stipulates that a fully authentic leader is supposed to impact on their audience. A leader has to leave a fruitful legacy. Leave a positive lasting impact so that decades after your retirement, your name shall always be remembered.
It is along those lines that Abambo AB would like to be remembered as a game changer. Somebody
who was always challenging mindsets and tried to take the focus of our (Malawian) music away from “always complaining” towards celebrating and enjoying life as well.
He also wants to be remembered as that guy who inspired people from all walks of life to aggressively pursue their dreams and ambitions without shame and being apologetic about being different.
CHALLENGES ROCKING MALAWIAN URBAN MUSIC
Abambo AB has observed three major evils that are derailing an otherwise upward progression of M-dubz music.
Firstly, there is the general resource deficit and underlying economics of the country that often leave listeners with little or no disposable income to spend on music which many consider a luxury (locally).
That aside, there is a lack of proper infrastructure and distribution channels (both locally and internationally). All these demolish the economic base of the artist.
In addition, a lack of exposure to outside markets and language barrier as far as Chichewa music is concerned is also another devil rocking the M-Dubz ship.
And lastly, Abambo AB observed that the lack of a distinctively Malawian sound recognized internationally is also a problem for the growth of our urban industry as almost every nation has an internationally recognized distinct sound but Malawi is yet to find its own.
So through such, he feels commercial support from both consumers and the corporate world, plus the artists’ own professionalism in the game can aid in changing the status quo and make Malawi music, the most sort after genre, internationally.
HIS TAKE-HOME MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH
As a goodwill ambassador to the youth, and as somebody who has always wished nothing but goodies to the youth, Abambo AB is of the view that academic progression is a gate-pass t one’s future success.
“Work hard in school if the opportunity and the ability is available to actively pursue constantly creating opportunities for oneself to make a difference in one’s life but also in the lives of others,” advised he.
That aside, the Animal Being is also of the view that turning their naturally-gifted talents into an entrepreneurial endeavor can make Malawi a better place for the youths.
“I would encourage everyone to closely inspect themselves to discuss their natural talents so as to sharpen them with an entrepreneurial intention as an end so as to contribute to the nation and avoid being a liability to the society,” he concluded.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click below to listen and download Abambo AB’s songs
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
FACEBOOK: Abambo AB
Information sourced and rearranged by Gibson C Kamanga