The DJ booth is mostly placed at an elevated angle to give the DJ a bird’s view of how the revellers are responding to his playlist. This glass cubicle is the club DJ’s tool.
The radio DJs too, know the response of their listeners through requests being made. With experience, the DJs have a special gift to predict whether a song is going to be a club-banger, top their request charts or not. That is why the magic of the radio and club DJ cannot be despised when it comes to music.
Listening to Malawian radio stations, one notices the domination of Nigerian, South African house music and American hip hop music. While other commentators have blamed Malawian DJs for promoting foreign music over local content, there is need to look into what makes these DJs play this music more and what can be done to make Malawian music club-bangers.
Last year’s Chill DJ Battle competition champion DJ Maya, who is also a resident DJ at Chez Ntemba in Lilongwe, says when they play Malawian music, the audience seems not to be enjoying it with a preference for Zambian, South African, Nigerian or hip hop music.
“Sometimes this makes our job hard because you have to play the same songs everyday just to keep your audience on the groove,” says Maya.
He argues that Malawians have club bangers, but the only thing they need to do is to connect to the relevant people who can get their music to the fans.
“The Daredevils, BlakkJak, Diktator, Blasto, Skeffa, Lucius and the Black Missionaries are some of the club-bangers,” says the disc jockey.
MBC Radio 2’s Fraternal DJ says the problem is not really that Malawian artists do not have good content, but rather they are laid back when it comes to promoting their music.
“Some artists wait for us to beg for their music and yet they are the ones that need promotion. Musicians who are making it big on radio playlists such as Lucius, Skeffa, Lulu and Gwamba take an initiative to bring their music to the radio stations,” said Fraternal.
The DJ says the Malawian audience has changed in that people now want feel-good music rather than music that is always centred on problems.
“That is the reason the audience opts for foreign music where they can just have a good time without being reminded of their worries,” says the radio DJ.
He recommends that Malawian artists need to concentrate on the beat and not just the content to make their songs stand out.
And celebrated radio DJ, Kenny Klips, argues that each radio station has its own unique code of practice which determines their playlists. “As for parties and club scenes, it is all dependent on what can make people dance and move a crowd.
“The problem is that most of our Malawi music does not cater for that clientelle. Timati tiziimba nyimbo zathanthauzo. Good listening music we make indeed, but not party music.”
Klips argues that the problem is that Malawian musicians are stubborn or have little ambition of taking their music and careers to the world, so they settle for mediocre stuff.
“Malawian musicians should learn their roots and build a genre from that. From that they can create a unique dance music that will be identified as Malawian,” says Klips.