Malawi’s music industry knows no tougher task than producing videos for international broadcasters such as MTV and Channel O. But youthful Aemo E’Face counts himself lucky.
He joins the lucky two MalawiansÃ¢â‚¬â€Afro-jazzman Wambali Mkandawire and Nyau Unit rapper Tay GrinÃ¢â‚¬â€to have his music featured prominently overseas.
The South Africa-based young achiever (real name Amos Mazinyane), who arrived in Malawi three weeks ago, gave a glimpse of his soaring career from a frustrating fall in 2007 Pop Idols in Blantyre to his inroads abroad.
“Being a Malawian boy, I didn’t expect to be big on TV channels dominated by South Africans and Nigerians. But just after my first album, I have risen from a nobody to power. Some people think I come from Nigeria,” he says.
Unlike most Malawian artists, E’Face has a record deal with SA’s Faith Works and a management contract with UK’s Lawless Music. While the two companies foot all the cost for his productions and performances, each time the artist is entitled to produce two singles -one for the market on the continent and another for the UK.
As part of the deal, the artist in 2010 fashioned an Afro-pop hit Second to Breath which continues to enjoy airplay on MTV Base and Channel O along with the metallic rock sensation Boys Boys for the overseas audience.
And the artist has been in the country for three weeks, during which he has completed collaborations with urban music maker Sonye and Joyful SoulsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Rogers Mpinganjira. Sonye features in PapayaÃ¢â‚¬â€a pop release fused with the western African melodies typical of Nigeria’s P Square and 2 FaceÃ¢â‚¬â€while the Ndidzauluka Ngati Mbalame acappella star comes clear in Just Want to Make It.
Whereas the collabo Papaya is meant for the continent, the artist is making House Down for his overseas market. He says having two companies working together to promote his exploits in different worlds puts him a notch better than the rest of the pack.
“The benefits are many, but this helps to create synergy with the hard-to-reach overseas market.Ã‚Â We promote them and they promote us,” said E’Face.
In October last year, his UK label released a remix of Second to Breath, featuring rapper Dazzel who boasts about 55 000 followers on Twitter and Facebook -a following likely to broaden E’Face’s reach.
“This is good for me because I will get some of Dazzel’s followers,” says the artist, whose Papaya will be released locally by Pempho Kafoteka’s Baseline TimveÃ‚Â andÃ‚Â continentally by Faith Works, which is owned by South African entrepreneur Kgotso Ndlovu and Nigerian Thoba Oduwaiye.
Signed up to Faith Works since 2010, he says the combination at the label gives him access to two of the biggest music markets on the continents. He debuted with the album Close in September two years ago and the single Second To Breath rose to number one on several radio stations in South Africa and Midnight Train to Jozi topped charts on Street Life Radio in England.
This year, the artist hopes to be back with a new album, Rise to Power, which contains stern motivation for the youthÃ¢â‚¬â€first and foremost, you need the power to take over and rule the world.
Explains E’Face: “This is an inspiration for the youth. They must rise to power. If you are poor, nobody listens. If you are rich, you tell them to jump and they will do so without asking how high.”
And his record deals give him the power to choose who to perform and record with.
This time, he plans to take Sonye, the maker of Fikisa ground-breaking beat, to South Africa for the video of Papaya.
The track is being earmarked for the album to be released in June.
Among the featured artist, Nigeria’s Nonso adds his voice to When I Rise and Bo of South Africa’s group Denim.