The share of greatness on the Malawi urban music landscape seems to range in categories like the greatest showman, the greatest comic and the greatest beat-maker among others. Forget his fake social media competition, but when it comes to the power of imagination, Young LT has no match.
Born Albert Mkwanda on March 27, 1995, the Blantyre based rapper has proved beyond doubt that he possesses the greatest imagining mind among his contemporaries. And what else shows greatness in a rapper than the power of imagination? When most rappers are diluting their sound and lyrics to strike a common cord with their listeners, Young LT keeps it imaginative.
Actually, great music should force you into imagination. It should be a puzzle which you fail to fill. In the end, when the pieces are brought together, to reveal the meaning, it should make you feel a fool, for not thinking hard over it. That is what his music does to you.
His latest ‘Owopa Yehova’ follows the same trend of ‘Pakati pa Usiku’ and ‘Ndadzuka ndi Afisi’. Once again, he hides what he is trying to communicate. ‘Pakati pa Usiku’ sounded ‘Satanic’. That was the criticism it received. And the video was even banned by some television stations. He had a tough social media task of responding to most people who felt that he was taking his music to an evil direction.
But a few people realized it that he had used ‘Satanic’ language and images to throw a shade at his rivals. And it is the same case with ‘Owopa Yehova’. The title track does not carry the load of the song. That is the only thing I personally cannot understand. It suggests that the song is talking about the fear of the Lord. But the contents are far from that.
It is about death. He sounds daring, singing about death in an adventurous mood. That is another mark of a good artist. Artistry is one way of having a perfect understanding with the universe. In the end, the peace that results from this understanding defeats all the fears of death, for example. That is what comes out of him.
The word that has revealed the greatness in him is the use of “Kumwalira.” It simply means dying. It is a verb and that has done a great job in its use. The word is used as a whole. But he has separated it to create a totally new idea and imagination of death and dying. From it he has created KUMWA and LIRA, a verb and a noun. KUMWA-LIRA. It comes out, the English equivalent of: Drinking a liquid called Lira. So for him, you only die after taking Lira.
He raps: Siziona kuti zoba man, no no no. (Death does not discriminate, no no no)
Kaya owopa Yehova man (Even for those who fear God)
Or ochimwa ifebe (Or we the sinners)
Aliyense adzamwa Lira (Everyone will one day drink Lira)
Lodzadza Chidebe (And a pail full of it)
And then he continues: Ukatuluka mu bawa (When you come out of a beer drinking joint)
Utamwa Lira (After taking Lira)
Samakubaira, samakuthira ma game, (No one makes fun of you)
Amakupatsa ulemu (They respect you)
Ndipo your name (And with you name)
Poyambilira amaonjezerako ati Malemu (They refer you as ‘the Late’)
Without understanding his wordplay around Kumwa-Lira, one can easily miss his point. He says that everyone will take the liquid, Lira, by themselves. And the drinking does not discriminate, even those who fear or do not fear God, will one day take Lira.
He then shifts the scene to a drinking joint. The normal setting of a beer drinking joint is that when you get drunk in beer, friends end up mocking you. But when you come from the Lira drinking join, there is never a thing as such. People respect and call you ‘Malemu’ (the Late).
It does not end there. The saying that one takes Lira by themselves forces one to imagine the nature of death. Some people choose to die, and some do not. But Young LT raps, by implication, we all choose to die, which is not the case.
Maybe we are hovering on a lower cloud and we cannot fully capture what he is trying to rap. If we go further than that, the idea of immortality comes in. it is something like being born is choosing to die. We will all die, and not all of us will choose to die.
But the fact that we will be available during our dying moment; that we will take ourselves into that car which will overturn to kill us, we will allow that mosquito to bite and infect us with Malaria which will kill us or keep ourselves old till we die of old age related body complications, gives a clue to what he meant by every person taking Lira by themselves.
About the writer: Wonderful Mkhutche is a professional speech writer, a political scientist and a manuscript editor and developer.