For some time, I have kept myself off Malawi music commentary. I have no reason, no excuse for that incessant blackout, but hey, we need some time to view things from other perspectives. Don’t we?
While I was away, in that desert, I was still listening to the songs that are part of us. There was Mwiza Chavura’s Ndidzakupanga Rape—a song that pitted him to gaol. Dude, or rookie as some may have called him, was promoting rape. I was asleep.
Then, the Black Missionaries brought four songs for their upcoming Kuimba 11 album, scheduled to be launched next Friday in Blantyre. There, as well, I was in deep slumber as the music lovers argued whether the Evison Matafale musical mission was being maintained or not. The band has lost it, some said. They had diverted from the mission. Their music no longer had an iota of the deep message that characterised Watsetsereka, Timba or Poison So Sweet. Even the reggae music Matafale propelled was no longer the envelope for that message, others proclaimed.
While the arguments were darting above my head, I was grappling to understand Joseph Nkasa. Yeah, that so-called Phungu who rocked the limelight at the turn of the millennium, the voice out there was that he has become more of a disenfranchised political mouthpiece.
How else can you explain someone who moves from being a praise-singer for Bakili Muluzi, to a griot for Bingu wa Mutharika, an imbongi for Joyce Banda and then, a psalmist—like the Biblical David—for Peter Mutharika?
Has he outlived the Ukalodzedwa Sununkha mantle? Abisalomu is his latest offer, claiming Vice-President Saulos Chilima is a non-entity against Peter Mutharika. Could we say he is now vindicated with Chilima saying he will not contest against Mutharika at the DPP convention?
Nkasa’s turning and turning in this politically widening gyre—excuse my borrowing—has left music followers bringing out songs that he presented previously to discredit his latest offer. They did just that when they circulated on social media his song claiming Malawians should not allow ‘matchona’ for president!
There was a time we could rock the town, from the townships, down Chirimba, past the Chileka Roundabout, towards Panorama or Roadhouse, the choice was yours. That was encapsulated at the time in Nyasa Guruz’s Tumpale.
Then, after years in the wilderness, NYG—as followers of the stable call it—last month brought us Ukamalira which follows their February release: Lero ndi Lako. There is a tinge of maturity in their latest offers, sign that playing their cards right can help maintain their base. That will not make some, like me, wonder why they made it to the 2018 Nyasa Music Awards list.
As I was groping in the Malawi music darkness, I was also thinking about Tay Grin—that self-acclaimed Nyau King. Tay Grin has been dissed a number of times. Once, when I asked him about it, his response was, simply: “I don’t know dude that dissed me!”
Essentially, that meant he never really cared who or what the naysayers said about him.
But then, some have wondered why the artist can go far and wide, and, deep into the songs of our childhood, like Chipapapa. Let me tell you what, folklore songs like Chipapapa are out there for everybody to promote Malawi. They are under no copyright. Who owns the copyright? So, some clever artist can be thinking of Ogode! Ogode! as the next hook for a song.
In Lubwa, Tay Grin, for once, brags about his mother. By the way, kulubwa is one word found in some of the recent tracks.
My mother is a minister
You are not even a finisher
We go back to Black Missionaries and their Kuimba 11. Well, for me to gauge their songs and what impact they will have on the Malawi scene, I have to attend their live music performances.
So, there I was on a wintry May night, somewhere in Blantyre, trying to have a feel of their new sound. There was Chizondi Fumulani with that usual husky voice begging all and sundry to try out some green herb. Then, before we realised it, he was onto Special Lover, his contribution to the Kuimba 11 singles and, oh boy, the fans went agog. His keyboard antics aside, Chizondi is one vocalist to watch in this day and age.
Lovers of music were on the dance floor when another Kuimba 11 hit was played. Mamaye! Mamaye! Mamayeee! The people went, as they joined band leader Anjiru Fumulani as he presented the rags-to-riches tale in Umboni.
I asked one fan the expectation for Kuimba 11, he said: “I hope for more reggae, and less ditties about the departed Matafale and the Fumulanis.”
That was an opportunity for me to accost Anthony Makondetsa, a force in Black Missionaries.
In his coolness, he tells me his next album is in the crucible. We talk about the title track, Ndagwira Mbendera. He simply tells me: “It is all about justice.” I will wait.
Then, as I was about to forget everything about Malawi music, Chavura, that rape artist, comes back. His latest offer, Jolenta America, where he features Jolenta, makes you wonder what this artist really thinks. One thing that comes out, he warns fans not to take his music seriously. Melodrama and irony seem to be part of his fortes.
He claims to have warned Jolenta, a female artist, that some people may take serious the lyrical content of the song that tells of escapades of some youths trying to paint a town red.
Ine nyimbo ndangoimba
For entertainment purposes
Ndimulangize Jolenta in this same track
Samala ndi trend
Ine ndinavaya kundede.
While we are at it, Piksy rocked, with Umakwana: Kunditchula sweet ngakhale titayambana/Kumaoneka pretty ngakhale uli m’mamawa. These are part of the lyrics to show how the creative Chichewa rhymester wins hearts.
A couple of weeks ago, Lucius Banda dropped another surprise. He brought us a rendition of I Do. That comes shortly after Martse redid Mabala. Let us wait and see if revisiting the wheel will pay off.
So there, as I look forward, Faith Mussa tells us his next offer will be on the street in August. What more can I say for his one-man band affair? That will be fodder for another day in this, our stable.
And, I can’t forget Phyzix and his Balaka exploits and the Ghetto King Kong Fredokiss’ jumps for charity and clarity!
It has been half a year of exciting musical moments. May the next half keep us on our feet.
Doesn’t Malawi music rock in its way?