As we welcome the New Year 2016, Zambia’s search for music identity continues because we have over the years, witnessed a variety of sounds and beats we call Zambian music. This has been mainly influenced by foreign rhythms such that any music genre you may be aware of is present in Zambia today.
It is no doubt that Zambian musicians can now produce Rhumba, Kwaito, Ragga, Hip hop, R&B name it. Everything related to music is possible and year in, year out we see the coming and going of Zambian musicians. The just-ended year 2015 is therefore no exception in as far as setting music trends is concerned.
As we review the year 2015, we take stock of the performance of Zambian music and look at the contributions of some of the individual musicians. We will take particular interest in looking at who made it big in the sector.
To begin with, we identify some of the biggest contributors to the year 2015 and without any particular order we start with T-Sean. He may not be one of your regular musicians but his contribution to the music was highly influential in 2015.
T-Sean also called the Dancehall Daddy is one complete artiste whose skills have brought forth a number of careers. The fact that T-Sean can sing, produce, compose and rap, gives him a greater advantage to work with any artiste as was the case last year. He did produce most of Macky2’s hit songs including ‘Lolo Lolo’ under the Bizzy Baila Record label. This also extended to other artistes that generally had a good year like DJ Cozmo on the song ‘She ahh Bomb’ which the Dancehall Daddy produced. T-Sean’s year was as busy as a bee and it was fitting for him to collect the video of the year award at the 2014-2015 Born N’ Bred Music Video Awards.
“I thank God for this award. This is my first time to win an award in Zambia,” remarked T-Sean in accepting the Born N’ Bred award last year. This to me meant the lad had been longing for such recognition especially after building a number of people’s careers and making countless hits.
Some of his hit songs like, ‘Umoyo’, ‘ Muliko’ and ‘ Boza’ will surely have a fair share in this New Year as the artist seems to be eager to do even more this year.
Second on the list of artistes that had a good year in 2015 is J-Rox, the tall and slim brother from Zone Fam. Although it is usually not easy for an artist to become very successful once they take a solo journey from a leading band, J-Rox is one classic testimony that has made it big on his own. His anger for developing music can be traced from his huge contribution at the time he was active in Zone Fam and this only doubled in the year 2015 when he went outside the ‘Box’ with a successful solo album, ‘Outside the Rox’.
He became an instant hit maker and the songs ‘Johana,’ ‘ Ituntulu’, ‘Not For Selo’ to name only few are among the 2015 most played songs. He is poised to do more this year as he is just beginning.
Robert Banda aka Roberto is no doubt another lad that had a good year 2015. He toured Zambia’s neighbouring countries giving his fans some ‘glasses’ full of his 2015 anthem ‘ Amarulah’. Most of us knew from the time the song was released that Roberto was on a deliberate quest to earn some international fame and this he achieved in 2015. He is the only artiste I am aware of filling up a stadium in a foreign country. He wowed crowds in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. His ‘Amarulah’ remix just added more hype and the brother is now set to conquer the whole world musically.
Next up is B-Flow. He may bore you with his stories of having met Obama and participated in the Young African Leaders Initiative Summit for 2O15 but that is no mean achievement for a musician. What makes B-Flow outstanding in as far as 2015 is concerned is the combination of his music and brains to create social change. The Obama shout out he got at the summit sort of sparked B-Flow’s energy to create concepts and use music for social change. He got lots of endorsements last year and I stand to be corrected, he remains to be one of Zambia’s artistes with the biggest endorsements in 2015. He was later in the year seen to recreate a new genre of music which mixes Kalindula and Dance hall which he proudly calls Kalidancehall.[Kalindula and Dance hall].
B-Flow looks set to build on his success this year and remain as one of the most influential Zambian artistes.
Three upstarts Wilz Mr Nyopole, Chimzie Kelly and the female artiste Wezi combinely caused huge music statements to make them individually stand out as some of the artistes that had a good year 2015. Wilz’s ‘Toliwe’ featuring Wezi is still a hangover from 2015 but its significance is the fact that it instantly registered two talented artistes on the music scene that eventually stole the limelight causing more trouble to the veterans.
On the other hand, no one ever wanted to go out to a club without dancing to Chimzie Kelly’s ‘Dorika’ in 2015, no wonder it has been named song of the year at some radio stations. Chimzie Kelly worked hard to set his music bar and one hopes he would double his fame this year.
For Wezi, as an upstart, she came with a huge bang and the year 2015 determined her potential to do greater works. Her vocal skills attracted a number of seasoned musicians who have courted her for one or two album features. To prove that her voice is a huge music statement, listen to Ozzy’s ‘ Pamodzi’ featuring her. You will surely agree she is here to stay.
Chester Umutokofyompo is one artiste who ended the year 2015 smiling because of his huge influence on the music scene. Apart from doing political songs that brought him out of hiding and became responsible for his new-found fame in 2015, the man did so much for the industry that his skills attracted JK, Ruff Kid and many other hit makers he worked with in the year. Most people closed the year 2015 dancing to one of his hit singles, ‘Shonongo’ which is set to enjoy more airplay even in this year as well.
Regular artistes JK, Danny, Runnel, Ozzy, Afunika, Dalisoul and may be Mampi all had a busy year though some were very silent and private. Danny and Runnel did not do much but it is worth mentioning the two artistes have loyal fans.
I fancy JK and Dalisoul’s flexibility and adaptability to modern music hence they are never short of activity in every year. Mampi has become more of a businessperson than an artiste as she is ever flying to go outside Zambia for shows. This is one thing that has slightly detached her from the local fans. Her counterpart Kay Figo has also followed suit.
Petersen stood out among the seasoned musicians in 2015 for he embarked on live performances that most modern-day artistes are shunning. On top of that, he released his new album ‘King Solomon’ which in my view has not really received the attention it deserved. It is a very good album addressing social issues in the typical Petersen manner which I feel needs a chance in 2016.
We can’t ignore the huge impact hip hop music had in 2015. This in my opinion is the new Zambian music because most of the hip hop artiste had a good year. Chef 187, Ruff Khaida, Stevo, Bobby East, Muzo, Pilato and a few more not mentioned all gave it a try to raise the rap and hip hop bar in Zambia.It was however, Macky2 and his rival Slap Dee that had a huge impact on the hip hop followers. It is just as well, the two battled it out on 24th December,2015 to determine the real Zambian King of Hip Hop. Although no winner came out of that battle, the good news is the battle continues even in 2016.
Let me take an opportunity also to aknowledge Mic Burner, the new kid on the Hip hop Block for his good run of 2015. His song ‘Thought of You’ was one of the 2015 killer tunes.
There was no much activity from the female folk but is worth mentioning that Kachanana and Dambisa had strong music and fashion statements which brought life to their seemingly fading careers.
While Mampi and Kay were busy promoting their music outside Zambia, Kachanana and Dambisa were caught up several times defending their ‘Sexy bodies’ which they freely exposed on social media. This brought out the dos and don’ts of women in music.
The year ended without hearing of OC’s return from the US where he has now been for over a year. Just as it is said, artistes come and go, we wait to witness who will come and go in 2016.