Malawi urban music history flips another page this Saturday afternoon as one of countryâ€™s up and coming musicians, Piksy, launches his debut solo album, Maso.
Piksy, real name Evans Zangazanga, came into the limelight after he broke new grounds with colleague Nicholas Mbonela, when the two, trading as Atumwi, brought to Malawi the Sendeza touch.
The two have since parted ways and Piksy is now under the Ndeâ€™feyo label.
Some of the songs on the 12-cut collection are enjoying promotional airplay. Avid followers have also downloaded, listened and shared such songs as Unamata, Ponya Mwendo and Appetizer.
For the artist, it is exciting to turn solo: â€œThis is the next level of Malawi urban music.â€
But what is the music all about?
Maso, he says, brings out what he has seen in life. Life has had its ups and downs for him. Determination, he says, is the key for the oppressed to push on.
â€œMany people are happy when you are in trouble. Being independent and having confidence in God rewards,â€ said Piksy.
To give a different feel to the music, Piksy ropes in Mizati Band vocalist John Kutsokwe Jnr, aka Jay Jay, in the song Bambo Nyimbo, while Afro pop star Dan Lu and his Ndeâ€™feyo fellow artist Armstrong appear in Ndikhoza. Gospel musician George Mkandawire is featured in Wochimwa while the Biriwiri duo come in Moyo.
Giving different touches to the songs are several producers who worked on the songs in various studios, including Percy of Pro-P, Yuze Uganda at Ralph Records, Daredevils at Low Budget, Tapps Bandawe, Uncle Lai and Rina Malenga, among others.
For Piksy, that is the way to go: â€œI understand each of the musicians I was featuring and how they would enhance my music. We have different fans, and featuring such artists helps get more listenership.â€
Piksy is one of the artists who have changed the scope of rap in Malawi. The current trend is that rap has moved from being associated with affluence, taking a more down-to-earth twist.
â€œAnother thing that has changed from the time I was starting out is that we have migrated from using pre-recorded CDs at live shows to performing with live bands. Even in the studios, we are now using live bands,â€ said Piksy, who was born on June 9, 1986.
The Airtel ambassador
Something to smile about, again, is the coming in of the corporate world to take urban music to other heights.
First it was Maskal, who was brand ambassador for Access Communications Limited. Now it is Piksy, who is brand ambassador for Airtel.
The deal is keeping him so busy that he had to quit his job at Charles Stewart Day Old Chicks.
â€œIt could be impossible to keep the job, while carrying out my duties as the brand ambassador. The deal demands that I travel quite a lot promoting Airtel Products. Apart from that, I am also studying at the Malawi College of Accountancy,â€ said Piksy, who comes from Ntcheu.
Currently in a relationship with former Malawi News Model of the Year Gladys Kumatira, Piksy says music has been part of his life for a long time. He started out as a chorister at his church, Zambezi Evangelical Church.
But his rap story dates back to 2003, when he was a member of the hip hop outfit, Real Wise Crew.
When the group broke up the following year, he became a solo artist and recorded a solo work, Mwai Wina. That time he was a student at the Malawi College of Accountancy.
He joined forces with Mbonela, who was a member of another hip-hop group in Zomba, the Ku Chawe Crew, and together, they recorded their first single, Mnzanga.
The two, trading as Atumwi, recorded one album, Sendeza. They also released several singles, before they broke up in June this year.
â€œI am not threatened that the album comes at a time so many musicians are also in the studios. Because my music is different, it can withstand competition,â€ said the slim artist, whose height has earned him the nickname Langwani.
It is evident that some artists are one hit wonders. Piksy reckons that, and says he does not want to join that group.
â€œA first album is usually full of zeal. Artists put into it their all. Later, they vanish. It is easy to get to the top but to remain there is another story altogether,â€ said Piksy, who enjoys reading novels and books for leisure.
On the launch this afternoon, several artists are on the line up. These include Wendy Harawa, Dan Lu, Lulu, Armstrong, Biriwiri, Daredevils, Rina and Gwamba. They will be backed by Maziko Band.