Weeks after abandoning secular for gospel music, Malawi celebrated rapper, Gwamba has reappeared with a new song titled Better. Yesterday I wrote an article asking if by going gospel, Gwamba will either rise or fall. Then, it was merely speculation! But hours after the article, Gwamba responded by releasing his first gospel hiphop song featuring Emm Q and Tammy to give us a clue of how he will be sounding as a gospel MC. Wonderful Mkhutche offers a Malawi24 exclusive review, giving you a glimpse of five things that will capture your attention should you listen to Better.
First: He still has it. In the previous article I described him as the “Phungu Joseph Nkasa of Malawi urban music” because of his rare ability of weaving lyrics to produce unthought-of meanings. His expressions remain the same in his favorite vernacular rapping style. There is still that confidence in his voice which has come out perfect with his rhyming skills. He exactly knows where he left it from and with his new song he has picked it from that same spot going towards a destiny only him and the universe knows better. Gwamba the lyricist has definitely not died. If anything, he weaving skills have refuelled.
Second: A secular music hangover is not yet out of him. ‘Better’ has been released with a tag as a gospel song. But the message is not all that gospel as we are used to. The likes of Ethel Kamwendo-Banda, Grace Chinga or Thocco Katimba have made us to be used to a gospel message which emphasizes on a person getting triumphant through faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, in the song there is a mention of Jesus Christ, being there for someone, and that because of that, all will be well. But still, it has come out as secular; something like what any average rapper can come up with. Gwamba is yet to discover himself as a gospel rapper in his lyrics. He will need more Bible studying and devotions to hit the bulls eye of gospel hiphop.
Third: He had planned for his conversion from secular to gospel probably weeks before he made the announcement. We are not sure of his song making abilities, in terms of how fast he can come up with a song. The song has come out good and in days’ time it will possibly threaten the existing music downloads records in Malawi. Partly, because people will be excited about the new Gwamba and will want to listen to him. But in general, the song is good. It is not sounding as a composition by a newly born child. Better can be traced to several weeks before he announced his conversion.
Fourth: Gwamba will shine with Better during the shows. It’s a pop tune. It can be speculated that he made the song with a music show in mind. He wants to be interacting with his audience especially through the anthemic sound of the chorus. If that was in his mind, then he got it right. This song is ideal for a music show. This will be the reason he will not lose his old appeal among his fan base or those he has found in his father-in-law ministry. In other words, with Better, Gwamba has used a strategy which will see him easily moving his fans from the secular side he belonged to the Gospel side he now belongs.
Fifth: The song has proved that a rapper who is at the top of his secular game can convert to gospel hiphop and still maintain his old touch of brilliance. Gwamba is a strange case on the Malawian music scene. Converting while at the top of his game; it has never happened before in Malawi, and more, from an urban music artist. He has shown the rest of his peers that it is possible to take that risky career step and still be as versatile as you have always been. Who knows, he has just led the way and more secular urban rappers will follow his way. Clearly, Gwamba has returned Better!
*Wonderful Mkhutche is an author, a political scientist and a manuscript developer and editor.