This suggestion will be strange. Even before the existence of the music in Malawi, when the Balaka sound was dominating, a person writing a song for someone was never a practice. Everything was done by the artist, in terms of composing or writing of the song, except on a few occasions when a song was adapted.
In fact, the suggestion is not only going to Tay Grin. It is for the whole Malawi urban music. Of course there is a debate, even in the USA rap, concerning ghostwriting. Some look at it as killing rap. Since rap is usually sang on the first persons’ view, they feel when a rapper is rapping it should be coming from him. Everything should be a reflection of the song’s writer.
The pro-ghostwriting people, like me, feel for a music industry to grow there should be a division of labor. There should be people who are specialized in writing the lyrics, others rapping, others producing and others managing, for example. This makes it possible for a project to come out mature and professional since it has been handled by people who are experts in their field.
Ghostwriting has never been a topic in Malawi because it is insignificant. But with urban music taking the seat of power and defining our music, it should be one of the topics. We have to get it tried and see how much it will benefit the industry. Malawi urban music has to grow. When one says this it evokes cynicism in some people. But if our music industry can be strategically positioned in terms of content and sound, it can make a breakthrough.
Why Tay Grin? Since his coming he has helped a lot in exporting Malawi urban music. He has performed in several countries, including South Africa and the United Kingdom. Besides that he has been nominated and won international awards, and more importantly, has done collaborations with other international artists. He continues doing this.
It is hard to notice the significance of all these, especially from Malawi. But some people in the places he is in contact with have come to know about the Malawi music industry through him. No matter how minimal it may look, it is important for our music. His exploits have not only benefitted him as a person. The industry as a whole owes him a great appreciation.
But his weakest area is lyrics. He has a great voice. Besides everything, Tay Grin has jealously guarded his image. He looks corporate than any other rapper in Malawi. But when it comes to the content of his songs, especially in the talked about international collaborations, he sounds ‘weak’. He is not a rapper one can quote. His lyrics come and go without making any impression on the song. Not that there are others who are better than him, but as the person who already has an international market, there is a need for him to look at that side and improve. He is our poster boy when our urban music wants to make a presence on the international stage hence the call for him to make an impression by embracing a ghostwriter.
*Wonderful Mkhutche is a speech writer, a political scientist and a manuscript editor and developer.