Sunday, May 27, 2018

Why Qute Kaye’s Rescue Should Be More Than Just A Knee-Jerk Reaction

The stars seemed to have aligned when he was crowned Mr. Sabrina's Pub on December 25, 2004. With the crown came an album recording deal at Hope Mukasa's Bavava Studios and 150,000 shillings, after his rendition of R. Kelly's Gotham City had the day’s judges eating out of his palm. There was only one direction for Brian Ivan Kaye, then plying his trade under the stage name Qute Kaye – up.
The ripple effect of that Christmas triumph was a string of successful singles that included among others; Ginkeese, Gyetwasokela (ft. Priscilla Kalibala), Ginkese, Gwendota, Njagala Omuwala and Osindise Asitamye, many of them under the massively successful Ginkeese album.

At his peak, Kaye graced many a corporate function and had everything going for him before he quietly slipped into oblivion. A five-year relapse proved too long, and by the time he tried a come-back with Ku Mutima, towards the tail-end of 2013, the industry had moved on.

An identity-crisis of sorts soon followed, and the pair of pearl-white earrings that graced his ears was complimented by a nose-ring and dreadlocks in a new look, sometime in 2016. Alas, the new look had no accompanying music to hype his personality, and off the scene he went – AGAIN.

13 years after his promising debut, he was back again, making news for both the right and wrong reasons; that haggard appearance at Robert Kayanja’s famed 77 Dogs casting him in the limelight once more. The musical prodigal son had returned – or so we thought.

This week’s depressing images, aggressively circulated on social media, of the disgraced crooner flashing the right headlight of a Toyota Harrier had his name yet again on the lips of many a commentator, many wondering what could have become of the singer.

What Went Wrong?

He was said to have slipped into depression after many a come-back attempt gone wrong. Then came reports of substance abuse. Others allege a combination of factors, including an undisclosed illness. But one thing remains clear – his was a situation that could have been handled better.

It’s an issue one could possibly tag to professionalism, briefly delved into by the winding monologue, below;

Many an artiste never have proper right management. Some grow airs after a hit song or two and forget about everything long-term. They create a bubble of invisibility and bury themselves inside.

Many get to a point where they stop listening to their managers. They believe their hype, and presume they'll handle everything by themselves; from songwriting, to booking performances, handling finances, branding and everything else in between.

With time they get consumed by their overnight success and before they know it, eons have passed without new music on the market. In the end, their hit songs begin to fade, and they can no longer get booked for shows.

Because many of them were never involved in promoting the music in the first place, they end up getting many aspects wrong. They presume their managers are making lots of money off their sweat.

Whereas they know that payola is very alive in the industry, they may never know the right moment to part with cash. And even if they did, their follow-up may remain poor since they won’t be able to keep track of all this.

Onto the product itself, and many remain at sea. Because an artiste once wrote a song that turned out great, they assume their rich vein of form will stick around forever.

Many of them end up writing songs that won’t favorably compete in the already crowded industry. This, perhaps, could explain why artistes like Jose Chameleone barely had a couple of good songs per year in the period between 2012 – 2016.

Having good management will essentially mean that the artiste won’t have to run around marketing their product upon release. Unlike in the past, the industry is now awash with way so many songwriters that an artiste’s inability to write their own songs shouldn’t be an excuse for their not pushing out new music.

Any of Ray Signature, Yesse Oman Rafiki, Zulander, Esther Nabaasa, Black Skin, Fyno, Michael Fingers, St. Andrew, Nince Henry and hordes of songwriters will do a good song on any day. Perhaps one could borrow Bebe Cool’s blueprint on Mama album (2015) where just about every song had a different songwriter.

The other aspects, inevitably, come into play. The production, along with all the ingredients should be taken care of. One’s effort would still be in vain if they went to Swangz, Nessim, Crouch, Eno Beat, Paddy Man, Saidi Soft or Big Nash, and still rushed out of studio with an unmastered product. An artiste may never have their product rocking the airwaves for as long as they still flock music studios with a “Nkolera nga aka Bebe Cool” mentality.

The product has to be thrown into people’s faces. An artiste will have to come up with a worthwhile video, or else it won’t cut it. The reasonable growth of the industry has since meant that we are not short of decent video producers. Any of Zyga Phix, Jahlive, Sasha Vybes, Badi Films or Kim XP would still do an excellent job (there are just as many video producers as songwriters that one will occasionally bump into names like Marvin Musoke or J Blessing showing their muscle).

They’ll need PR to manage their brand. This should be part of the management, irrespective of whether they are permanent of under some periodic, contractual arrangement. When you have someone like Jeff Kiwa, you won’t have to start running around looking for songwriters, decent producers and DJs to whore your finished product.
The nerves. This, perhaps, was the least of Kaye’s troubles. But many artistes, largely because of stage fright, start taking weed and/or booze because they want the confidence. It’s the reason why, despite the immense talent, people like Mowzey Radio never turned out big on live performances, though they stayed afloat because they had “a bit” of management to push them.

My earliest interface with this was in high school when Julius Ejalam, the chap who ran our group insisted on us feeding on bananas before a performance, insisting they would assist in getting the best of our vocals. Milk, yogurt, cheese, caffeine, ice water, carbonated drinks and booze – among others – are some of the foods believed to hinder one’s vocal performance.

On the other hand, foods like honey, green veggies, room temperature water, fruits (banana, oranges, grapes, etc) are said believe to get the best of one’s vocals.

If, indeed, his is a case of substance abuse, he could do with a bit of rehab and a possible stabilization period. After this, one trade that could definitely help Qute Kaye get back on track is music where he would undoubtedly flourish. He has the talent.

With proper guidance, he will be better protected against possible relapse, and most likely avoid the bandwagon where an artiste gets one successful concert and off they fly into uncharted waters, buying an acre on Masaka Road and on it, raising 3 goats in the name of farming.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Tribute | Gracias, Arsene

Resigned. Fired. Gone. Whatever. Yes, Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal at the end of the season – that’s the latest news from London Colney. The long wait is over. Finally. Mama has given a signal.

Whoah! We can now watch football again.

With us, he leaves memories. The memorable quotes. The transformation. The sleek football. The training methods. The diet regime. The 3-1 against United in that Fabian Barthez show. The 5-1 away against Inter Milan. The 3-1 win against Juventus. The 4-2 against Liverpool. The duels with Fergie. The catfights with Mourinho. The cheekiness. The stubbornness. The innocent water bottles kicked from the touchline. The bad signings. More transformation (the bad one). The 8-2 horror show at United. And everything else in between.

We are now ready for the transition. They’ll mock us, the naysayers. A season or two, and we’ll find our feet again. Thierry Henry, Mikel Arteta, Patrick Vieira, Diego Simone, Leonardo Jardim. Anyone. Someone with an ounce of a football brain. Anyone that is not Brendan Rogers, Mourinho, Moyes or Sam Allardyce. Anyone decent enough. Maybe Maurizio Sarri. Or Eusebio Di Francesco. Or Zidane (allow me to dream, people. With Wenger gone, anything is possible).

"This is one of the most difficult days we’ve ever had in all our years in Sport blah blah blah […]", cooed Stan Kroenke. He lied. What’s difficult about letting go of an abusive partner –  Breaking the news to them, perhaps? Maybe he’s been practicing how to say: "au revoir" and make it sound like an all-expenses-paid holiday to Ibiza.

I feel more excited than a juvenile on a typical 1990s Christmas day. More elated than Piers Morgan will ever be. I am in the mood for a #WengerResignationParty. Invites, anyone? We’ll foot the bill.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tribute | Adios, Winnie

South African anti-apartheid activist. That’s the phrase most widely used to describe the Xhosa woman born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, the woman the world grew to know as Winnie Mandela.

Social worker by training and political activist by trade, Winnie met Nelson Mandela when she was only 22, in 1957. They would live together for a paltry six years before Mandela was jailed in 1963.

She didn’t escape the coolers herself, doing a good 18 months in 1969, undergoing torture, house arrest, and solitary confinement in the process.

While that didn’t kill her zeal for activism, it certainly took a toll on her struggle, eventually driving her to certain extremes.

One of these was founding of Mandela United Football Club, the gang that was responsible for the murder of a 14-year-old Stompie Moeketsi. Stompie had been kidnapped with three other boys.

In April 1986, she appeared to endorse the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using car tyres and petrol) in a publicized speech.

"With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country”, she said, triggering a chain reaction that would result in dozens of deaths either by stoning, shooting or outright torture.

She was sentenced to six years for kidnap, which was reduced to a fine on appeal. It was only a portion of truths she never wanted revisited. She would later blame Mandela for a series of truces that the latter got involved in, much later.

"This name Mandela is an albatross around the necks of my family. You all must realize that Mandela was not the only man who suffered. There were many others, hundreds who languished in prison and died", she once said, in an interview The Standard, a UK newspaper.

She was unamused that a giant statue of Mandela had been erected in central Johannesburg. She wanted everybody else involved in the struggle given equal recognition. Steve Biko, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe and the rest of them all.

Winnie blamed Mandela for having negotiated a bad deal for the blacks. She believed they were not as economically empowered as she had envisaged.

Her transgressions could only serve to prove that Winnie was as human as they come. While she was no saint, her erstwhile secret-now-turned public love affair with Dali Mpofu – a bubbly lawyer 26 years her junior – only served to wreck her marriage.

The eventual revelations appeared to effectively crush Mandela, driving him to finalize the couple’s much-publicized divorce in 1996.

"Can I put it simply, my lord? If the entire universe tried to persuade me to reconcile with the defendant. I would not. I am determined to get rid of this marriage", he said, effectively ending their 38-year relationship.

Today, Winnie Mandela signs out having been unwell since the turn of the year. She was 81.

Nomzamo, one of her names, means "She who tries". And try and fight she did, eternally etching her name in the pantheon of South African greats. What a heroine! What a colossus!

Rest thee well, Winnie Mandela.