Maybe I am the kind of person who has too much guard. But the tendency of some urban music artists, spreading the news of their project before it is ripe, is killing the music artistry. Call it a pre-urban music hangover, but as the Chewa people say, ‘Bongololo samadzolera mafuta pagulu’ (The Millipede comes out with an already oiled body); there is a reason why the arthropod does that. People do not have an idea of where and how it oils its body. They only see it passing by with a shining body, and more, when people try to ‘ask’ it by a touch, it coils. It does not want to give too much information about its beautiful body.
It sounds funny. But there are several lessons urban musicians can learn from this. Gwamba: After successfully coming up with his first gospel song a month ago, he is now embarking on a project for his second gospel song, ‘Alleluyah’. As good as he has always been, one can only assume that the song will be a reflection of his exceptional rap skills and a more improved sound as a gospel artist. People widely accepted his first gospel song as a gospel one, but it lacked in several ways. It was sung by a person who had announced that he was now a gospel artist but the message of the song still sounded secular, somehow. He still had a secular music hangover and as time goes by he will be going deep into his faith and coming up with tracks that can safely be called gospel.
We are all waiting for ‘Alleluyah’. But it seems he has chosen to do it in a different way. He announced that the video for the song will come first then its audio will follow later on. There are reasons why he decided to do it that way. But the way he is treating the video shooting leaves a lot to be desired. He is all over the social media sharing backstage pictures for the upcoming video. Maybe he is doing that as a way of promoting the project and creating anticipation in people. But what he does not know is that, in urban language terms, he is killing the vibe for the project. There is a reason why in a performing hall, for example, there is a curtain between the audience and the artist. The latter comes out only when the costume is ready on him and the audience gets to see everything for the first time. Artistry is about creating a wonder in people’s minds. They need to have questions in them of what is going to come out of the performance, or the studio, in this case. When the project is out it should be the answer to their wonder. It ends up creating a satisfaction within them.
But when the artist, and the production team, is all over releasing pictures of the video shoot, it kills the element of artistry in it. The behind the scenes images, if not well timed, negatively affects the project in a number of ways. Just like the Millipede, Gwamba and his production team should control how much is being revealed from their project. When they all post their pictures, they say, ‘Alleluyah video coming out soon’, as if the whole nation has stopped whatever it was doing and waiting for the video. Things are always on the move, and the moment people have had an idea of what is being cooked behind, or are tired of waiting, they will lose interest in it and move on to the next thing on their minds. The element of surprise is always good. If for promotional purposes, it does not have to take every one in the production team to be posting pictures about it. So guys, cool a little bit. Focus on the project behind the view and knowledge of people, and come back to us when everything is done. You will take us by surprise and we are going to like that.
*Wonderful Mkhutche is an author, a political scientist and a manuscript developer and editor.