Saturday, 24 May 2014

Evolution in Zambian Music

What came to be known as Zambezi Music
I'll start by saying that I as a Mufilika, music, poetry and dance is in my blood and soul. My father had a collection of only the music he enjoyed and was good. I started paying attention to music when I started edging towards my teens, those were the days. I was 10 when I started recording songs from the radio (yes, we are the generation that gave birth to piracy in Zambia). The very first album I owned was Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers... Then I was convinced to dub Snoopdogg's Doggystyle over it. To this day I can't really figure out whether I made a mistake with that or that was the true beginning of knowing what I liked in music.



Growing up, local radio and television is all I had to enjoy. for entertainment. The local music industry was shrunk at a very fast rate in the 90's and HIV/AIDS and a very poor economy had a lot to do with that. But all good things survive. Zambians have music for all occasions, from funerals to weddings, they rarely had the resources to persue music and earn a living. This coupled with the economic decline that stretched from the 80s and straight through the 90 made it impossible for one to imagine anyone taking music as a livelihood. Some stood tall and strong though, I remember Daddy Zemus in the mid 90s, he made that difficult choice and to day his name will forever remain as that of the father to the rebirth of Zambian Music. Do you remember 'Salaula'? Yes that was the break out song of this late great. he came out at a time when people said that such music did not belong to this country and he would flop. but his impact was disruptive enough to leave an indelible mark on the music industry and a whole generation of music lovers.


Nasty D
At that time we only had folk music (Kalindula) and Congolese rumba music (I never liked it much) which i only came to appreciate when I drank shakers. but amidst all the foreign influences some voices broke through and the people listened and we loved it Case in point, Davis Ngoma, popularly known as Nasty D. His song, 'Gudu Milile' made people realize how many applications our local language had in trying to tell a story. This song was not only fun and entertaining, but it managed to illuminate the prevailing social conditions and how people basically lived and loved life. Alas the system could not let a man 
change the world and he returned to the darker recesses of Zed life, I am happy to inform you that he is alive and well, and those of us who have it, still enjoy his music. Started from a group called EHD (Ever High Dread) Nasty and his crew widened the path Zemus cut by drawing in the grass root fans across the board. A full story on him will come at a later stage. moving on..

The Pioneers

It wasn't long before a smart and shrewd businessman put his hand in reviving our music, with the successful recording and selling of Daddy Zemus's Chibaba album, Mondo Music CEO Chisha Folotiya  brought forth the Rhythm Nation Project. This compilation showed how diverse and deep Zambian talent actually was. to most of us, it was a breath of fresh air

There are several names and artists i have not spoken of or referred to, this is deliberate, I just wanted to give a glimpse of what i mean by Zambian music as i know it, and where it stands today. Every once in a while I listen to the radio and I hear a new song every day, from old timers to new comers, there is always something I have not heard. I pride myself in being capable of separating the the good from the crappy stuff upon first hearing.

Chisha Folotiya

Jordan Katembula
Black Muntu

Unfortunately I don't have the energy or the time anymore to be a fully fledged critic, but I still know what good music sounds like. But from way back then to now, I have come to appreciate the efforts these artists make and I hope that you the reader found out something you didn't know.. At the very least reminded you of good memories.

Bless and be blessed