Zephy Mr Oldies

TOO NEAR; YET TOO FAR

NEWS | ENTERTAINMENT | MUSIC
  • THE CURSE OF MZUZU: ENTERTAINMENT-WISE

By Walusungu Munthali

Let’s take a minor snap survey. Mention any five top-top urban music artists from Mzuzu…

1.

2

3

…stuck? Right?

Now would you do the same if it was for Blantyre, or Lilongwe entertainers?

While other cities produce top-notch models, leading urban music artists, actors and prominent entertainers, you name it, the same has not been the case with the ever-green city, Mzuzu.

Calling a spade by its rightful name, Mzuzu’s contribution towards the country’s entertainment bank currently, is still wanting; cannot be at the same wavelength when compared to BTz, and L city.

It is so unfortunate that despite having some of the biggest names in Malawi’s entertainment business raised in Mzuzu, their celebrity statuses are normally recognized whilst in Blantyre or Lilongwe. Wendy Harawa, Slessor, the late Revolver…all these started their careers up north but ended up being big names in other parts of M-dubz but the north, Mzuzu in particular.

You think this is an overstatement? Okay, mention any urban music artist from Mzuzu who can command a larger following like the likes of Gwamba, Saint, or even Jay Jay Cee so to speak?

Other cities have crowd pullers, entertainers who can command mammoth crowds in their shows. That, unfortunately is not the case with the Green City. Not that artists up north cannot doit, but the magnitude is way way planets apart.

From time to time, Mzuzu does produce promising talents…talents that could, if well nurtured, be at the epic of the country’s entertainment ladder. However, most evaporate suddenly, if anything they flock to other cities for “greener pastures”.  

So, what could be the problem with Mzuzu? Is Mzuzu cursed?

According to revered recording artist Zephy Oldies, many people have a misconception about fame.

“Many people misunderstand the idea of becoming famous. Everyone has their own time to be in the limelight, meaning that an artist hits the spot once and all the time after that what an artist does is maintain their fan base. It is wrong to say artist rise and disappear,” he clarified.

Wakisa James, one of the biggest forces to reckon with in urban music circles, himself from the city as well, is of the school of thought that M-dubz has a bias towards music from Mzuzu and the north in general.

“For a long time artists have worked hard to be in mainstream industry, even though now we are getting a lot of air play than it used to be, I can still feel that there is bias and how people value our music compared to music by artists from other regions. I do not think there is enough airplay for music from this side.” He claims.

Zephy, without necessarily agreeing 100% with Wakisa’s observation, feels the geographical barriers are the contributing factors to the low airplays songs from Mzuzu-based urban music artists get in national radios; a result (according to him) that negatively impacts on the ‘popularity of the affected artists.

 “It would be wrong to say artists from Mzuzu are not in the mainstream, though I feel like the main reason a majority of artists do not make it into the mainstream is that radio stations are not in our (Mzuzunians’) favour. Most radio stations we have here are community radio stations and the national radio stations are only branches which do not have sessions for programs but only news programs. This impacts negatively on our artists,” he observes.

Sharing similar argument, Power 101 Dj, Gemini said that even thou it may seem true that there may be some stigma towards Mzuzu musicians, it still does not make any sense claiming that media houses neglect them because there are also other areas where musicians feel the same way too.

“I disagree that Mzuzu is neglected because I have never heard an artist from Mchinji or Nkhotakota, hitting louder. But, I would agree with the fact that Djs have their personal likings and none of that forms any isolation towards Mzuzu.” He said.

Adds he, “Several factors contribute for a song to get airplay, for instance here at 101 a radio hosts (DJ’s) bring in music to the table and listen if it’s dope or not and compiling like that. Plus, there are some songs that are out there all over town that people love; automatically they make it into the playlist.”

On the contrary, Media Ambassador for Zathu Pa Wailesi and entertainment reporter for MIJ FM, Chifundo Zingunde observes that most of the (affected) artists do not take interest to promote their music.

“It is just revolving around in its own circles, only few are trying to make it happen but still we are not yet there. One ought to think we are growing let me accept it, yes we are growing but at a very slow pace. We did Pambele, Mzuzu’s finest but how far did it go? Only loved by northerners; in other words we are not yet there,” he said.

Zephy shares Zingunde sentiments saying it is high time artists understood that music needed promotion, and by such a virtue, monetary transaction may also be involved.

“Most artists claim that disc jockeys demand money in order to grant them airplay but that is not true. An artist needs to properly budget for a song’s promotion. Media houses have various promotion packages for music and it is not the disc jockeys charging them.” He elucidated.

As Zingunde concludes, it is high time financial literacy was imparted in the affected artists.

“Artists still think music is social alas! It’s business, very few are taking it as a business. As a result they don’t invest a lot. If you can’t invest, how would you expect to earn?” Quizzed he.

……

Perhaps it is not a hidden vendetta from the Deejays from other regions to be snubbing artists from the north. Perhaps it is not over-charging that is demotivating Mzuzu (northern region) artists from hitting the spot. Perhaps, as Zingunde had suggested, urban artists need to have some entrepreneurship skills in them for them to turn their talents into business endeavours. Indeed, perhaps artists need to be striking official record deals with professional music labels so they can be properly guided.

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