Category Archives: Arts

Top 10 music videos on DJ Ice’s playlist

dj_ice

2018 is here but we are still not over the music that kept us dancing last year. We met up with DJ Ice, one of the best DJs that has ever done it in Malawi, to discuss the music videos that he watched the most in 2017. Hope you enjoy his selection.

10. AKA – Caiphus Song

09. Ice Prince (ft. AKA)- N Word [Remix]

08. Mathew Gold – Magnetic Field

07. Asa – Jailer

06. Zanda Zakuza (ft. Bongo Beats) – Hamba

05. Darassa (ft. Ben Pol) – Muziki

04. Bebe Cool – Katono

03. Tay Grin (ft. 2Baba) – Chipapapa

02. Martse – Tchwe

01. DJ Nathan Tunes & Hazel Mak – Gwetsa

 

We hope you enjoyed watching the music videos. Also watch DJ Ice’s 2016 Best Malawian Video Mix for more enjoyable music. You can follow DJ Ice on the following social media platforms:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/icethavj/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vjice1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vjice

Christmas Snapshots

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We wanted to know where and how everyone was spending their Christmas.

This page will keep getting updated.

A Love Hip Hop Christmas

By Sydney Chuka

Photo credits: Fusion Multimedia

As a teenager, I had a friend who introduced me to Hip Hop music videos. Back in the day, no one had satellite TV in Malawi and the only music videos were on VHS cassettes. It was the only way we saw what life was like for young people elsewhere. For the first time I came across artists like: Ghostface Killah, RZA, Capadonna, Rakim, Guru, Craig Mack, DAS EFX, and Busta Rhymes just to mention a few. It was music at a scale I had not envisioned prior. My point is this: we breathed American music in the 90s. The entire music selection at birthday parties comprised of songs by American artists. When Snoop Dogg released “Gin & Juice”, it went viral amongst Malawi’s youth as if Snoop himself had come for concert at Njamba Park. I bet that not one of the American Hip Hop record labels at the time even had a marketing budget for Africa. In hindsight, they did not need marketing in Africa, the music came over through some cultural osmosis. American music, not just Hip Hop, dominated the airwaves and youth culture of Africa. We understood that Hip Hop was American.

As I looked forward to the Hip Hop Christmas Collective, I knew the work of some of the artists namely KBG, Suffix and Faith Mussa but was absolutely oblivious to the works of Sho Baraka, MAG44, Mista Gray, Khetwayo, Liwu and Cozizwa. The weather did not look too promising either, rain clouds hovered above the Capital City. Like most events in Malawi, the fans are either there or they are simply not. The message from Malawian fans is always loud and clear. It is also unpredictable; worse yet for a free show where people can flake out at last minute at no financial cost to them.

When I turned into the Gateway Mall Complex, there were small groups of young folk scattered all over the car park. The stage was still being set. The rain clouds were still eminent. There were no Police officers around but there were private security men and women dressed in black t-shirts. This was comforting. My Psychology lecturer, Dr. Eric Benjamin, used to say that whenever he saw Police officers; it meant one of two things: something had gone down or something was about to go down.  Clearly, nothing had happened here or was going to happen here. This was assuring.

Whilst I waited for the show to begin, I came across some five young men with whom I shared an interesting conversation. Their names are Terence Mataya (18), Mphatso Banda (19), Joseph Mwaibasa (17), Hope Goliath (19) and Austin Lwanda (24). They are aspiring artists in their individual capacities. They collectively emphasized that they believe music plays a unique role in bringing together young people in a spirit of love. When asked about the challenges they faced as young men in Malawi; they expressed that “the future of their generation is at stake”. Most of their anxieties are about the education system in which an individual’s field of study is determined by chance and not by choice. Austin, a tall young man with frizzled hair, had aspired to be a medical doctor but was enrolled in an Agriculture undergraduate programme instead. They all said that they were interested in studying abroad as they felt that the academic programmes in more developed countries challenged students more to be at the forefront of developing new knowledge and technologies. The collective dream for their generation was that more young people remained in some form of formal education until they reached an age of economic productivity. Not all students in primary school get to enroll in a secondary school or a tertiary education institution of some form or another. They also hope that the youth of Malawi would have more avenues to be civically active without necessary engaging into the throes of politics. When asked what that avenue could be, they could not immediately think of an answer. Talking to the young chaps made me realise why I first listened to Hip Hop; it remains the voice of the voiceless.

Whilst I was having this engaging conversation, the first act, Mervyn Speaks, came on stage and I totally missed it as I was a distance away. Then the speakers started thumping. Liwu was on stage, his fans were rapping along to his songs Ndiwachifundo. Cozizwa soon joined him for a song. At around 2:30 pm, it started to look more like a concert as more and more people flooded towards the stage. Khetwayo was next. He opened with a Christmas special before he sung Eternal Life amongst his other hits. Mista Gray followed and had his fans on their feet with Chimwana Chosamba. KBG opened his set with Jah Rule. Suffix accompanied him on a song, their styles did not lyrically sync Ieaving me to ask the whereabouts of his usual partner, S.A.M.U.E.L. I have seen KBG and S.A.M.U.E.L perform together before and their duo is electric (I met S.A.M.U.E.L after the show and he mentioned that he would be performing in the Blantyre show the next day). In all fairness, KBG and S.A.M.U.E.L are not natural solo artists. I compare them to another famous Hip Hop duo MOBB DEEP; Prodigy needed Havoc and vice versa. Given that the show was live, ESCOM earthed it with a blackout from 3:27 pm to about 4 pm. At 3:45 pm, people were still flooding in. The original programme did include a planned intermission but the spontaneous intermission was appreciated by the attendants as they got a chance to mingle and jingle.

The second half kicked off with Suffix who closed his set with the song Mkazi wa kumwamba, a well-known collaboration with Faith Mussa. The audience which appeared not to know Suffix’s latest songs, were thrilled to hear this familiar song that speaks against tribalism in romantic relationship in Malawi. The fans sung along. Faith Mussa, a meticulous guitarist and psychedelic musician opened with his latest hit Mdidi. I asked myself why he was placed on the line-up of a Hip Hop Collective since he is not a Hip Hop artist. The answer eventually came in a unique blend of a Hip Hop bass track, his amazing guitar chord surgery skills and his soothing voice. Listening to the perplexing but delightful deluge of melodies that only Faith could envision, he connected with the Hip Hop fans. The reaction of the fans was one of utter disbelief. I tipped my sombrero to him for bearing it on the line of very distinct and different genres. Then Sean Kampondeni came on stage. I thought he would give us his usual Barack Obama styled speech but when I saw DJ Kali get on deck I knew that the gloves were coming off. After watching that performance, I declare by the power vested in me by the State of Hip Hop that Sean Kampondeni will from now on be referred to in this newsletter simply as “Sean”. The man needs no introduction. Sean has dropped many verses over the years; but this time around he really dropped a verse and what a verse it was. He did his own hook too. It was that good. He then got all Barack Obama on us when he introduced MAG44.

MAG44, is a Zambian MC, whose name evokes memories of sounds a .44 Magnum cartridge. I haven’t spoken to him to find out where his got the inspiration for his artist name but I think I have a fairly good idea. Here is the thing about MAG44; he is a regular guy. There is no fanfare about his appearance. He got on stage dressed in black t-shirt, denim shorts, black sneakers and his only jewelry were wedding band and wristwatch. And then he opens his mouth. Your ears flinch. His voice hits you like a 44 Magnum coming straight at you from the barrel of a revolver. I would describe MAG44 as a lyrical unapologetic, in message and in delivery. His beats have different influences, he brings in a little of the famous Zambian pop rhythm that is characteristic of artists such as K’Millan, some elements of the Congo’s Kwasa Kwasa, and some Euro dance beats before smashing them altogether to produce his own fusion of Hip Hop. MAG44 was able to connect with people in his native Nyanja. Watching MAG44 and Sho on stage together, I understood why they get along musically and personally. Neither one of them is soft on hard issues. The two of them share more than a stage, they share a vision. Sho is very witty, his remarks in between songs were clearly polarizing but you had to be quick to grasp what he meant. His first song was Kobe Bryant on ‘em was an ode to a recently retired basketball superstar and he had the audience shooting hoops. For a first time listener to Sho’s music, seeing his energy on stage made me understand what he had said the previous day in the press briefing, he does not do this for the money which may not be great but for the chance to learn about other people. He just learned how to rock a car park in Malawi. The reality of young people in Atlanta and in Lilongwe are quite different. Yet the message carried in the songs is relatable to both crowds. Sho put in as much effort on a stage in the car park of Gateway Mall as he would have done in Madison Square Garden. You have to respect him for that. He didn’t give us a half show. The crowd eventually ran for cover as raindrops started to fall. It was not a disaster, it was a blessing. For die-hard fans like me, it was pure bliss to dance in the rain. We were sad that the show was coming to an end; so we savoured every second before the turntable would come to a chilling halt.

I got drenched but most importantly, I was refreshed that Hip Hop is no longer American. Hip Hop is now truly universal. Its future and ability to connect people rests not only in the money it brings, the attention it gets in the media, the ratings of reality shows of former Hip Hop artists; but rather in the message that it carries. For young people like Terence, Joseph, Austin, Mphatso and Hope; Hip Hop is that art-form that will keep them from falling into the many pitfalls that suppress the vitality of young people in our country. I remember someone saying that Hip Hop started with young people who had nothing talking about having everything. Hip Hop has always been aspirational. We accept that it has taken some violent turns in the past, but the intrinsic dream of the music lives on. Observing how the audience was glued to the stage throughout the performances, I realised the power of music to unite people across cultures, religious divides, tribal lines, political ideologies, age groups and socioeconomic strata. The princes and princesses of Lilongwe’s Bel Air and the princes and princesses of Lilongwe’s ghettos waved their hands in the air, from side to side, to the sound of Hip Hop as one people.

 

This article has been written in the spirit of #malotoathu.

 

 

 

Voices: Sho Baraka

 

By Sydney Chuka

Photo credits: Innovision

I will admit at the onset that I had no prior knowledge of Sho Baraka, his music nor his values as a person or as an artist before the briefing today. As much as I listen to hip hop on occasion, I am not up to snuff beyond the odd hip hop song that I will catch on Trace Urban or Trace Africa. I tend to throw on the hip-hop I grew up listening to, artists such as Naughty by Nature, Lost Boys and Queen Pen – the sort of artists people don’t talk about as much anymore. As a matter of fact, I had slowly shifted away from hip hop as a genre and moved closer to home with African house music which is now very trendy and makes me look like a man of the season. It does feel great to roll down the windows in one’s car as one plays the latest Heavy K or Black Coffee track. It tells the younger bystanders, if there are any nearby, that I still got it; lest they mistake me for a cultural bygone.

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted on his Whatsapp status about a show that Flood Church had planned and since I was looking for new articles for The Zitheka Monthly, I decided to jump onboard. Truth be told, I had no idea what I was getting myself into: firstly, I had never attended a press briefing and was afraid of embarrassing myself and the brand; secondly, I do not know any of Sho’s lyrics in case he asked me about my favorite song of his or something along that line. He would know that I had not done my homework. As I write, I have not listened to any of Sho’s music. I have strictly left the music to be discovered tomorrow as he sets the stage ablaze. I know that I will not be disappointed.

Around four this afternoon, I walked into a nondescript mustard-coloured building in Area 15, Lilongwe. The paint application is evidently recent as the previous tenant’s signage is still barely visible. The windows are blocked to the left with black film whereas the door and the right window are covered in a blue-peach flower-patterned film. On a pillar outside the door is a sole poster of the pre-show performance that will happen later on that evening. Welcome to 1Five, the venue for the press briefing.

As I walk in, I can tell that this is some underground movement. No article of furniture advertised the flamboyance of “new money”, yet the ensemble was quiet homely. The room was welcoming in an authentic Malawian demeanour. It was dimly lit with some  LED lights for the videographers. On the stage were two seats made of car types, a mark of ingenuity on the venue. The stage was flanked by two large ghetto blasters; the mouthpieces of DJ Chizmo who calmly guided us through his selection of hip-hip, pop and dancehall songs. To the back of the room, hidden from the lights, were the seats for the audience. We waited for the briefing to start.

At around 1650h, Sho Baraka, Sean Kampondeni and Suffix entered the room. They took their designated seats, the lights dimmed once more, DJ Chimzo muted the music and the briefing began. The first question to Sho was about his inspiration to perform in Africa. I was expecting that he would say something about Africa being the next business frontier and that it is his long-term plan to get African fans in readiness for the potentially profitable economic shift. His response was more heartfelt. His American parents made the decision early on to give their children Swahili names; Sho Baraka literally means “final blessing” in the pan-African language. Coming to Africa has not only been about the music for Sho; but also has been an avenue for him to get closer to his ancestry. When he comes to perform in Africa, he is not coming to a concert, he is coming home to his fellow brothers and sisters who face common injustices in this world. His Swahili name has helped him reclaim his authentic identity whilst most African-Americans, like him, were stripped of their African heritage.

He spoke about his surprise in his six earlier visits to Africa that whilst most Americans know too much about themselves and very little of everyone else; people in Africa knew very well about the developments in the wider world. As a student of the world, Sho learns a lot about people in general and countries in particular during each visit. His ever-expanding worldview influences how he sees himself as an artist reaching out to youths in Atlanta and in Lilongwe alike. His music carries a message of love and hope to young people everywhere.

When it came to the challenges he had faced as a hip-hop artist, he cited that there have been instances in his career when he wanted to compete in the industry but held himself back because such outrageous stances would have been against his own personal beliefs. As much as winning is important to him; what is even more important is how he wins. He talked about how the world was based around the value of love; not just love towards self, but love towards those we interacted with in our lives. He said that the state of the world is a reflection of how well we treat each other; that when we ignore the value of love in our lives, we corrupt the resources and the relationships we are entrusted with.

When all the other reporters had asked their questions, I hesitantly raised my hand up and posed a question to both Sho and Sean. My concern for the youth of Malawi is how we have seen entire generations wiped out due to the carnage caused by the deadly pestilence of HIV/Aids and how many have argued that foreign influences such as hip-hop music videos have shifted the moral landscape in the minds of young people to accept a laxity in our collective approach to the conservative values upheld in our culture historically; which some decades ago was extremely closed and had a strict censorship board. My question was how can the work of both Sho, as a hip-hop artist, and Sean, as a pastor of Flood Church, begin to reverse this moral laxity that left unaltered would lead to loss of so many young men and women that have worked very hard to develop their talents to the present only to be lost later to the killer of dreams, HIV/Aids?

Both Sean and Sho paused for a bit. The dynamics of the question needed to be digested and answered with tact and wisdom. Sean was the first to go. He explained his role in society as to first show love to the society and to subsequently substantiate that love with good deeds. He said that the church historically had done many good deeds on the continent but that it had also fallen short of recognising the good deeds that everyone else had done irrespective of their religious beliefs. He went on to share his own personal experiences with this killer, HIV/Aids, when it claimed the life of his father and five out his eight siblings. Sean’s own life was not any rosier. He confessed without flinching or shame that he had been a sex addict since the tender age of nine. He retorts that many young people in our society still struggle with unhealthy addictions and that the church is there to lead them out of this hopeless pit. He applauded the several organisations in the country that have forged a formidable offensive against HIV/Aids spread and early death. In his words, HIV/Aids is no longer a death sentence and that the affected individuals do need a second chance; the giving of second chances being the very tenet on which the church has been built.

Sho dove in with a lyrical twist and took us back to the original plan of the world in which love and harmony were ubiquitous. Man lived harmoniously in his environment, he did not pollute unnecessarily. Man lived harmoniously with the woman; he did not punch her. And beyond that, men and women lived harmoniously with each other and with the environment. Then things went wrong as can be witnessed in the sex industry in America and Africa where young men and women are being trafficked, in a world where many people have experienced molestation sometimes at the hands of trusted family members, where music has been used to promote unhealthy sexuality; and where people have been wounded in the most vulnerable parts of their personhood. It is in this world that music can come to offer a message of love, an education of healthy sexuality, and a cup of grace to those who made a mistake in their past.

Sean then tied it together by saying that Flood Church is here to stay for those young men and women looking for hope beyond tomorrow’s concert. He hopes that through the free show tomorrow afternoon many young men and women will turn up to enjoy themselves but will also get the chance to enjoy good music, hear some good news and support good causes.

As much as a hip-hop collective is not a traditional way to celebrate the Christmas season, it is a new way to bring together young people in Malawi from all walks of life, united by the love of hip-hop and dreams of a better tomorrow.

This article has been written in the spirit of #malotoathu.

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