His death came as a shock. When such young lives, full of energy and inspiration go away from us in such a sudden manner, it feels like running to whoever owns our existence and beg for another chance to live. But life has proved us that once it is gone there is no way it can come back.
That is the very moment we realize our mortality; our eyes get open and understand the reality that we are not here forever.
The death of Revolver, born Ken Muwamba, has given us that impression. It has reminded us that a monster is among us and it is just a matter of time before it catches up with us.
Revolver was an example of the people, who despite unfavorable conditions, did their best to live a full life. Malawi has not been a dreamland in so many ways, more importantly, in the music industry for which he belonged. The industry is yet to reward the artists, but just like many who look over that setback and still give it a shot, Revolver should be credited to taking it.
And to be specific, urban music in Malawi is still finding its tempo and path. After a dominance of reggae music for the past two decades, a type of music made up of Hip Hop and R n B is taking over Malawi. It is commonly referred to as urban music and it has ably done the duty of changing the sound and the direction of Malawi music.
Revolver belonged to this group. But that is way too general when one is trying to understand his contribution. He came into the industry in 2007, meaning that he was close to a decade old. Just as with several rappers and singers, he has been rising by time and project. He was not the kind of artist that made a name with their first attempt. For him it was a slow and a steady rise to the top.
Was he at the top? With urban music, the question of who is at the top has always been tricky. The artists and the fans have fought over it. But that is what makes the industry interesting: Hip Hop is not a type of music for the faint-hearted. It is only for those that are ready to fight for their place. Revolver has died leaving Malawi urban music a kingless land, with just a few claiming the crown.
In April 2016 I wrote on Revolver and the rap group he founded, Trap Squad. In it I argued that Trap Squad was the most relevant group in Malawi urban music. It was comprised of himself, Chavura, Stich Fray, Juda Gaga and Sir Patricks. Together they worked on several songs that were slated to be in their planned maiden album, Royal Family. But four months later, the good story tragically came to an end,
Stich Fray, the group’s producer, and Sir Patricks, the group’s singer, left the group amidst a bitter exchange of words with Chavura, the group’s most outspoken member. The two were later, as initially speculated, poached by Dan Lu. Revolver never said much regarding the feud, and it was this time, to the ignorance of most people, that he was sick.
The group was therefore left with three members, with only two active, as Juda Gaga went missing from the rap scene. The center of the group turned to be Chavura and he never rested but continued on making new music. It was around the same time that Revolver posted on his wall thanking all those that were with him when he was in hospital and also the haunting post, “I see death around the corner.”
As people, we make our presence felt in different ways. For Revolver; he was not a versatile rapper, but he had a passion and a hard working spirit that can be noticed in just a few rappers. The success of Trap Squad should be credited to his ability of assembling a team of singers and rappers that can make the much needed noise the industry needed. That is the legacy he goes with.
But his influence does not only start and end with the Trap Squad as a group. Wherever the rest of the members will be with their careers in the coming years, they will look back at him as the genesis of their destinies. In addition, one of the songs that people came to know about him was the Remix of the song ‘John Chilembwe’, originally done by rapper Tanaposi. The remix was his idea. He brought in names like Juda Gaga on it and later on, more prominently, Martse. That song gave rise to the now award winning Martse.
Again, Revolver was one of the most outspoken rappers. He was not afraid to go on someone and was always ready to take the insults and the criticism for his words. Rap industry is the most dynamic in the whole world. Its nature of existence goes beyond an artist going into the studio and making a song for the people, as with other genres. With rap, the rapper is personally part of the project.
Rap lyrics are, in one way, meant to create a character for the listeners; the one they can relate with. The use of ‘I’ and the infamous proud stunts does not mean to degrade other rappers, but as a way of making the listener see himself through the life of the rapper, the character. That is where beef in rap comes in. It is never personal. Just like with boxing, inside the ring, you fight, but when the bell goes, all that is gone and fighters can embrace each other.
That is the angle we have to look at all the beefs Revolver chose or did not choose to get involved in. It was not personal and never meant that he was violent or anything like that. He was being a man of the industry, and living a life as a true rapper should. He made the industry relevant and kept it working as it continue rising.
Years from now, we will look back at how we look at other fallen people like Vic Marley, Wisdom Chitedze and Teargas, that Revolver was part of the larger mission and a reason urban music in Malawi rose. He had his own part which he perfectly played. Dying at such a young age has sent shivers to us all as human beings. But good for him, he had something within him and made sure he let it out and created a legacy.
He will be buried an empty man, as far as his life as an artist in concerned. He leaves us with an example of how we all ought to live: A life that aims at living to its potential, being a true member of the industry one belongs to, letting passion and hard work pave the way ahead, and more importantly, as noted in his Facebook post, recognizing and accepting that death is coming for us.
About the writer: Wonderful Mkhutche is a professional speech writer, a political scientist and a manuscript editor and developer.