Missing in action: The Ugandan music industry is one of the fastest growing industries in East Africa to the extent that some of the artistes have come from Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda to do collaborations with Ugandan artistes. The industry was almost once taken over by Congolese but thanks to singers Jose Chameleone, Bobi Wine and Bebe Cool, that changed. For the past 20 years, the big three have ruled and while there are artistes who have joined along the way, many have dropped out along the way. Some came, got lucky and ended up labeled one-hit wonders, whereas others were just masquerading. Some time back, Sqoop published a list of artistes who jumped ship and decided to move abroad. These included; GNL, Toolman, Kidfox, Gen Mega Dee, among others. Now Lawrence Ogwal looks at the stars that were a hot item back then but went MIA.
Lady Mariam aka Tindatine
Lady Mariam was a singer who came from nowhere, but as far as we are concerned, she actually came from somewhere in Kabwohe. The singer came with a Runyankore song titled Tindatine. The song, however, cut across that even the Langi and Lugbara could sing the song, word for word. She then did another song called Sirikusula and then she literally started gambling with songs, her future in the industry started fading. Some of these songs that barely got airplay included Tugyigeite and Nshagala, (don’t frown they are hers too). It was not long when the singer gave up and last year news broke that Tindatine was now a businesswoman. No, Lady Mariam does not ‘import’ milk from Kabwohe or own a shop in Kikuubo, but rather owns a kafunda bar in Kireka opposite the police station. So whenever you get thirsty or sick of the Kireka jam, just drop by and support your former singer.
Up to now, the name Ziggy Dee will get many people elated because that guy’s music made for some good times. The Eno Mic singer enjoyed his time and his collaboration with Bobi Wine on Suunda had him even relocating from Tanzania back home. However after these two songs in 2006, Ziggy Dee went silent for a while and in 2015 he came out to say he had given his life to Jesus Christ and would only do Gospel music. Ziggy Dee did only one gospel song and before we knew it he was asking for his life back from Jesus Christ. He went back to his old ways and after a very long time, in November last year he released a song called Sumaya. The song has however failed to receive airplay. Ziggy Dee claims he is a child rights activist. Whatever is there to show?
Buchaman was famous not because he had nice music – yes, his songs wouldn’t make it to any count down but people listened to them anyway. He only shared fans with his boss, Bobi Wine. He was Bobi Wine’s right hand man; the vice president of the Ghetto Republic. Buchaman left Firebase after citing exploitation by singer Bobi Wine. He even asked for Shs1b to be paid by Bobi for using his voice in the Busabaala adverts (lol, right). He later started his own camp and became the president of Badman Camp, a musical group with artistes who only cared about smoking weed rather than doing music. The group flopped. Buchaman is somewhere in the ghettos, he still owns a car because he is dating a rich woman but his lifestyle is still the same. Last year, Chameleone picked him up and took him to studio for a collaboration. The song was good but whatever happened to it.
Singer Rocky Giant was once called the father of lugaflow and yes, who says no? He came with songs such Mulembe Gw’abalaasi, Bula Bula, Paka last and Tekaliyo, among others. Paka last was one of his biggest songs that he even threatened to sue a telecom company for using the tagline Pakalast for their promotions. Well, we could not blame the guy because it was at this time that his music was beginning to die and he was probably looking for an easy way to make money. Unfortunately there was no way to pay the lawyer. Last year when we visited Radio and Weasel at their home in Makindye for an interview, guess who was there? Rocky Giant was clad in his signature baggy clothes, carrying a kettle of boiling water. When we asked around, we were told the once god of Ugandan Hip-Hop was now a tea boy at Radio and Weasel’s home. The singer last year released a song called Wabulilawa, dedicated to those asking where he disappeared to. Looks like the song did not save him because we find ourselves still asking Wabulilawa?
The once self-proclaimed Queen of dancehall, has been overheard saying she is inspired by the people she used to inspire. That statement alone is proof that Bella is never returning to music. During her times of Dodo, System Agwan, Kikiri and other songs that are in YouTube archives and music libraries, Bella headlined concerts but most of all, 2007 was a year for her as she made a mark as the only female dancehall artiste. Unlike other artistes who disappear but their music keeps playing, Queen Bella died a musical death. When we dug deep, we landed on Producer Enox, a producer in Makindye who told us that Bella was planning to bounce back and that they had actually recorded a song called Sabulenya. Our question to you Bella though, will you handle the heat, because while you were away, Queen Sheebah took over your kingdom. And oh, we have Cindy too!
Do you remember the guy who did the song Ompalula, a love song that he featured gospel singer Exodus? The song was so nice that it took about two years on the charts. This was about seven years ago and it has been that long since we heard from the singer. When we stalked his Facebook page, we figured the guy cannot afford data bundles anymore because his last post was in July last year. In the post, Lovins was telling his followers how he released a new song Genda Osome, and post had only six likes. Just like Rocky Giant, Fantom Lovins also camps at Radio and Weasel’s home in Makindye where they spend their time engaged in conversation with security guards and other Radio and Weasel hangers-on.
Ugandan artistes can be amusing, they still have the guts of posting on their social media pages thanking their fans, remind their fans or say whatever they want to tell their fans. Are you sure they are still your fans? How do you even know? One of such singers is Master Parrot, the man famous for his hit song Ekikompola, Muliro, Mama Wabaana and Nankya among others. All these are songs from about 10 years ago and they were all hits. Parrot has since then disappeared and the only place you will find him is at Bobi Wine’s beach in Busabaala, the only place he is assured of a gig. Because of the friendship they share, Parrot has performed at all Bobi Wine’s concerts and those organised by Bobi.
The hottest all-girl music groups that were booming in the early 2000s were Obsessions, Blu*3 and Dream Girls. Dream Girls was created in 2003 and although the group broke up in 2007, its members are still glued to the music industry doing solo careers. Among the members is Leila Kayondo, Rena Nalumansi and Anitah Da Diva. The group was managed by Emma Carlos Mulondo, who is now Khalifah Aganaga’s manager. The singers once shared a stage with Brick and Lace, Kevin Lyto and Mafikizolo. The group apparently broke up following misunderstandings with their manager. Last year, there was rumour that the three girls were planning a reunion, but looks like it was just that – a rumour.
Who did not dance or sing to Brenda, Sirikyusa, Kisaati , Kiba Kibi with Bebe Cool and Kantukwale? Between 2003 and 2013, Sweet Kid was shining. The part time Club Silk DJ was on top of his game and when people saw a bright future ahead of him, they were not wrong. Sweet Kid would, however, later disappoint them when he decided to quit doing music just like that. So if you miss him as a fan or you are a promoter and he owes you money, go straight to Beverly Hills Bar in Kansanga. Look for the bar manager and they will show you someone called Moses Sserwada – that will be Sweet Kid and he has been the manager of the bar for about three years now.
This might sound false but it is true; Red Banton started singing way before our big boys Bobi Wine, Bebe Cool and Chameleone. The guy started out in 1994 while the others started in 1996. You all from the 2000 era must remember the song Nonya Money, a song many Ugandans sang along to. He enjoyed his moment for a while before the big three broke out. Red Banton then disappeared and as if to justify his fading career, he released a song titled Balogo, in which he claimed that all Ugandan artistes were witches and that was why they had managed to stay on top.
He was hitting at the big three but this song did not salvage his career. The only thing he has kept true to himself is that he will not leave Kampala; a thing he emphasised in his song Sijja Kuva Kampala. It’s true because when he left Masaka, he went straight to Makindye and that is where he operates to date.
He performs in small bars in areas within Makindye and neighbouring areas of Lukuli Nanganda, Busabala, among others. Once in a while he will accompany his friends to shows and will be granted free entrance and free beers. The last time we saw him was in the company of Chameleone and Weasel at Laftaz Lounge at Centenary Park.
Red Banton still records some music, though it is substandard and he doesn’t have money to promote it. He also manages a parking lot on Salaama Road, a job he got from his girlfriend who lives in the UK.
Lyrical G is one of the very first Ugandan artistes to do Hip-Hop. When you ask Rapper Saint Nelly-sade, he will tell you Lyrical G is a true definition of Hip-Hop and he actually paved the way for the young generation. Wasn’t Hip-Hop music in Uganda paying? If it was, then Lyrical G would still be singing. The legendary rapper realised two years ago that he needed to put food on the table and perhaps Hip-Hop wasn’t paying and he decided to leave the country and go to Dubai. Lyrical G has been working in Dubai for two years now and although we are not exactly sure of what he is doing, what we know is that he left his family in Uganda and only sends them upkeep. On his Facebook timeline you will find posts that he directs to his three-year-old son.