The urban music industry last year saw a significant rise of promising young artists who conquered the microphone and left a long lasting impression.
Their daring approach to music did not only send warning shots to old timers, but also created a stage for themselves to prove their worth this year.
The most dominant feature of the young artists’ hard work in 2016 was their dominance in the Urban Music Party (UMP) Awards.
For example, the Best Reggae/Dancehall and Afro Pop awards went to newcomers Jay Jay Cee and Kelly K, respectively. While Suffix grabbed the Best Gospel Award with Best Video Director Award going to Sukez of HD Plus Creations.
The Best Song of the Year Award also went to two youthful musicians Blaze and Ril B for their collaborative Mwini Zinthu.
Some music observers say the annual UMP Awards accelerated competition among urban artists and helped to improve their performance in 2016.
“Winning an award is a symbol of excellence and something that encourages one to work even harder; hence, the UMP Awards increased the fighting spirit for distinction among urban artists,” observes Kimpho Loka, a showbiz reporter.
Apart from scooping the UMP Awards other youthful artists such as Blaze, Bucci, Kelvin Sings, Sir Patricks, Nyasa B, Twin M, Tsar Leo, DNA, Steve Spesho, Home Grown African (HGA), No Sleep Gang (NSG), Gattar, Saint, Word Sleit and many others, demonstrated excellence in the areas of live performance and song production in the past year.
Lilongwe-based artist Martse also dominated the stage apart from winning the Best Hip hop Award in the UMP. But, most of the youthful music artists say the best is yet to come and they hope this year will be their year to shine given the degree of their talents.
Among top events of 2016, most of these artists impressed at the Carlsberg bash dubbed Urban Music Legacy on August 21 at Blantyre’s College of Medicine Sports Complex, UMP Festival at BAT ground, Theo Thomson and Barry One’s album launches at Robin’s Park, Blantyre.
Other artists such as Sir Patricks broke the urban boundaries by performing with Dan Lu at a series of shows and the likes of Lucius Banda and Black Missionaries during Entertainers Promotions powered concerts.
Entertainers Promotions manager Tonderai Jai Banda described Sir Patricks as one of the music forces to reckon with in the country.
“Sir Patricks impressed during the shows that Entertainers Promotions featured him and he stands a better chance to becoming a star in 2017 because he is an excellent performer,” says Tonderai.
He said his Entertainers Promotions introduced a deliberate policy in 2016 to accommodate emerging talents to give them a platform to showcase their talent.
“We will continue to work with talented youthful artists in big events to expose them to professional shows. We believe this is the only way to help them gain skills to dealing with stage etiquette and big audiences,” he adds.
Sir Patricks of the Ngati Zimbe fame says he is set to showcase more this year.
“I have learnt a lot in 2016 and people should expect fireworks this year. I will leave no stone unturned this year,” he says.
Sir Patricks, however, urged event organisers including established musicians to utilise the budding talents.
Kelvin Sings, who is a winner of the 2015/16 E-Wallet Singing competition, says he embarked on his music career on a promising note, but looks forward to a more gratifying 2017.
“2016 has set ground for me. Now I know which buttons to press to stay in the game,” he explains.
In 2016, the music industry also saw the boom of other artists such as Charisma who soared high with a cover of Panda called Kubanda Kubanda. Originally, Panda is the debut single by American rapper Desiigner. The song was officially released for digital download on the iTunes Store as a single, before being re-released on February 22 2016.
The list of artists to watch this year also takes account of female musicians Tuno, Rita, Beanca and KIM.
The promising army of urban music did not only impress on stage, but also controlled the airwaves with popular songs.
However, the president of a movement of urban artists in the country called Mingoli rapper Fredokiss bemoans that most urban artists do not benefit from their work in monetary terms despite the fame.
“We need a leveled playing field where urban artists’ fame should equate their pockets. We need strategies that ensure that artists benefit from their talent,” says Fredokiss. n