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The bad and ugly side of HiPipo Music Awards

Who decides? Two weeks ago, the annual HiPipo Music Awards held their fifth edition at Kampala Serena Hotel and as usual, the players in the Ugandan Entertainment Industry were recognised and awarded. Unlike the previous editions, this year’s awards have been the talk of town with many saying the Awards were not fair. As they attended the event that evening, Isaac Ssejjombwe and Lawrence Ogwal were not only admiring the ladies, their dresses or watching those who spent hours in the washrooms. Here is what they saw happening backstage, on the red carpet and after the show.

Organisers fight at the event
The HiPipo Music Awards were started in 2009 by a team of young guys who came in to fill the void left by the PAM Awards and with wide connections, brilliant ideas and a website that most people believed in, they managed to pull off their first awards ceremony. But it looks like most people do not know the brains behind the awards, if an incident at the event is anything to go by.
As the ceremony was going on, Nicholas Kalungi, one of the founders of the awards, was up and down and it would not be much surprise to find him in a restricted area (backstage).
Problem though, Kalungi did not have an official’s tag and only identified himself by mouth. But the Fenon guys, who were the organisers of the event, did not want to know. The guy in charge of security backstage, in particular, had a verbal exchange with Kalungi and when things got heated, he slapped him.
“Even after identifying myself and telling him that I was preparing for Navy Kenzo (Tanzanian artistes) to come on stage, this guy refused to believe me. He started pushing me around and before I knew it, he slapped me,” Kalungi narrated.
He said the offender was apprehended by the bouncers at the entrance, causing a bit of confusion at the exit of Victoria Hall. While performances went on, Kalungi and a number of people were ganging up to fight back the Fenon employee, but he was later taken by the police. Kalungi promised to open an assault case at the police.

What is Music Icon of the Decade?
For the first time in Ugandan awards history, the HiPipo came up with a category called Music Icon of the Decade and the nominees were Sheebah, Iryn Namubiru, Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Mesach Semakula and Radio and Weasel.
Everyone knows a decade is 10 years and everyone also knows that Sheebah has literally been singing for three years. During our research, a source that preferred anonymity told Sqoop that the category for Music Icon of the Decade was added onto the list by Bebe Cool, who in return paid Shs2m to top up for the booking of the event’s venue (Victoria Hall). No surprise that he was announced winner in the category. Not to say that he was undeserving, but clearly it is now for living up to lyrics… #TekaSenteWolaba!

Artistes who paid to take home awards
As if the wrong nominations were not enough, people in attendance were left wondering how some people ended up winning. How many of you have heard of Pine Avenue5? Well, they won an award for Best Music Group in a category that had B2C, Radio and Weasel, Viva Stars, Da New Eagles and City Rock Entertainment.
When they were called to pick their award, there were no cheers or ululations but rather frowns because the name Pine Avenue5 did not ring a bell. “Who are those, I follow the music Industry but I don’t know them,” a visibly confused Maggie Kigozi asked the people she shared a table with. Our source said Pine Avenue5 dug deep into their pockets to carry the award home. It cost them Shs500,000.

DJ Shiru fails to pay
There is no doubt that KFM DJs Roja and Slick Stuart are one of the baddest disc spinners in town right now. They have taken home Buzz Teeniez Awards, the Nigerian Entertainment Awards and this year they scooped the Hipipo Award.
Rumour though is that DJ Shiru had been asked to pay for an air ticket for Navy Kenzo from Tanzania and in return he would take home the Best DJ award. Shiru, who reportedly turned down the offer, was then asked to pay just Shs400,000, but he still refused and told the organisers to give the award to Roja and Slick Stuart since they were after all good. When we reached DJ Shiru for comment on the rumours, he only laughed and said he “will not comment on the HiPipo awards”.

The wrong nominees
We cannot say the PAM Awards were 100 per cent legit, but with the help of Ernst & Young, artistes and songs were categorised rightly.
Some categories at this year’s HiPipo awards got us saying, REALLY?! Take an example of the Best Ragga/Dancehall song category that had Farmer remix, Ki Ekiganye, Still Standing, Emotoka, Tuli Majje, Tuli Kuki and Walk to Work. Most of these are dancehall songs but not Emotoka by Lil Pazo, which is an Afro-pop song. Dangerous by Caeserous, which actually was supposed to be under dancehall, was put under the Afro-pop song category alongside Kabulengane, Nkuziniremu, Omulembe, among others.

Artistes boycott
Prior to the awards, Rapper Gravity Omutujju warned the organisers of the HiPipo never to involve his name in these awards. We are still not sure what inspired his decision, and even though he was nominated, he did not show up at the ceremony. Appearing on NTV sometime back with Eddy Kenzo, Gravity said: “Don’t mention my name anywhere in your awards. You can give the awards to Kenzo right here.” Kenzo, who was also in the studio, said he did not want to be awarded by HiPipo.
After the awards, B2C management released an official statement distancing the musicians from these awards. Part of the statement read: “This goes to all award organisers in Uganda, please try to be true. Stop asking money from artistes to be nominated or awarded in your things. You are lying to the whole nation and in the end all those winners who bribed to be awarded won’t last long. Ugandans wake up for all those fake award organisers and from today onwards, Andy Events is not welcome to whoever nominates its product to any of those fake things.”
It is said mbu B2C management was asked to pay Shs1m so they could take an award or two, something they found quite unethical.
As we were still digesting the B2C things, Bebe Cool also came out with a long post advising award organisers in Uganda to exclude him from any awards. “Today I have decided to officially ask all organising committees of any music competition/awards in Uganda to exclude my name in any nomination in Uganda. Let me concentrate on being appreciated beyond my borders rather than home,” part of the post read. We understand Bebe’s frustration stemmed from last week’s Sqoop cartoon (you didn’t see it? Well, go find a copy)… but, we were just saying!
According to Martin, a representative of Kent and Flosso, they will never be part of those awards anymore. In fact, they already knew the results and only came to show face and do some interviews. “We actually knew the winner from our category before the ceremony and we only came to show face and do some interviews. From now on, we will never be part of those awards ever again,” he said.

Who is KizAza?
When they announced Must Watch Talent, there were cheers for Da Agent, Kent and Flosso, Topic Kasente, Allan Hendrick and Minayo among others. Guests were then told to guess who would take the accolade home. All the names they shouted were wrong. The Must Watch Talent award went to KizAza. Who is he? Well, not even we have heard of him. The guy, however, introduced himself as a Congolese refugee doing rap music in Uganda. Sources say even though he is a refugee, KizAza settled with an afluent family who parted with a good Shs1m to get their son recognised. We really need to hear this guy sing better than Kent and Flosso or Da Agent.

What the organisers say
Innocent Kawooya, the CEO of the HiPipo Music Awards, says all these are baseless rumours trying to tarnish the brand. He asked every artiste who claims to have paid to get nominated or awarded should present a receipt and name the place the transaction took place.
Asked about artistes distancing themselves from the awards, Kawooya said they will engage all the stakeholders, have a chat with them and they will respect whatever decision they make. But for any artiste who wishes to stay away from the awards, he says they should also tell their fans to stop voting for them.
He added that Bebe Cool’s recent post might have been at the heat of the moment but he will likely change his mind. “Maybe Bebe Cool said all he said because he was angered by the cartoon,” he said.
He added that despite the negative publicity and rants, they are not about to stop and will be back next year.
Maddox’s Namagembe nominated in 2017
How can a song done in 2001 get nominated in 2017? We are talking about Maddox’s Namagembe song. Okay, we understand that the video for the song was shot last year, but it was not even a video category, but rather Best Raggae song. Yes we all love the hit, but having it compete after 16 years is outrageous, considering that it was nominated alongside African Gal by Bebe Cool, Mariana by A Pass and You are Mine by Nubian Li & Katera Afrika.

Other undeserving winners
Best Video Producer: This went to NG Filmz UG (Dr Nolton), beating Sasha Vybz, Jahlive and Grate Make and Zygpa Phix.
Best Song Writer: John Kay over Dokta Brain, Moze Radio, Nince Henry, Oman Rafiki and Unique. Mayumba Kumi by Jackie Kizito winning
Best Folk Song: Dangerous by Ceaserous, beating Navio’s Njogereza and David Lutalo’s So Nice.
Best Afropop Song: Dangerous by Caeserous which was nominated in the wrong category, beating Kabulengane by Bebe Cool, Nkuziniremu by Big Eye and Omulembe Guno by Aziz Azion and Sheebah Karungi among others.
Their say on the awards

“ They are nice awards and they are here to change the music business for the better, but the organisers need to change the format of nomination and deciding the winner.
kasuku, radio presenter

“ I think they are trying and I do not think they are doing anything shocking or new. It’s the same thing all the time. I don’t think they shock anyone anymore, it feels like they are playing a song I expected them to play, nothing new, which is what we need now.
Dave Dash, radio presenter

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