Art is a demon. Vocalist-cum-drummer Marcus Joel Suzi, the revolution behind Prince Martin and Soul Raiders, testifies to this enslaving nature of creativity.
“Nobody can run away from art. It’s a demon which follows you wherever you go and gives you a thirst that you always have to quench,” says the 30-year-old bachelor of arts humanities holder who majored in philosophy theatre but chose music and communication for development to satisfy his artistic legions.
When he is not singing or consuming music, the co-founder of the Lilongwe-based reggae raiders is admittedly watching comedies or writing a script.
Such is his passion for creative works that as a Standard 8 student, he was dismissed from school for missing classes in preference for video showrooms where films of Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger were regulars.
Having banished the demons of truancy, the son of primary schools teachers from Dedza and Ntcheu embraced music after reuniting with his fellow St Kizito Seminary drop-out Prince Martin at Umbwi Secondary.
The two teamed up with music scholar Montfort Manyozo at Chancellor College to form the band that is never afraid to comment on current affairs in a crafty way and seems determined to change the country’s reggaescape.
Even on the album Angels [in Disguise] which encourages listeners to fend for themselves and help the needy, Suzi is the voice on Kutali and Frustration in which citizens wish to escape a country hit by massive problems they cannot change.
With a mix of reggae pioneer Peter Tosh and Gramps of Morgan Heritage in his voice, the songs soulfully search for sense in the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s repressive economics and politics. They do so in a more cunning way than Lucius Banda’s album Life and Thlupego Chisiza’s play Semo play which read like cut-and-paste editions of street talk in the fallen dictator’s era.
â€œTaking sides with the ruling elite is hazardous to the helpless of the poor,â€ he argues.
Â “Never take sides with the authority because if you do so, they will take you for granted. Praise and worship will go into their head and they will start personalising national achievements.”
Whereas politicians think all good things well from their efforts, Suzi says Frustration and Kutali are a burning spear that must go beyond Mutharika to question a system that is â€œrotten to the root.â€
Meanwhile, the Soul Raiders have intensified live shows to establish themselves on the music scene where quality and quickly seldom meet.
Â Their recent performance attracted about 200 people to Chameleon Bar. Both Martin and Suzi called it their best show since their first appearance at 2011 Lake of Stars Arts Festival.
â€œWe want to bring the band to the people starting in our hometown to the rest of the world. But this will be a gradual process,” says Suzi, for haste makes waste.
The group’s first album has been on the market since April this year.