FORGING HUSTLE? We can say that the Ugandan music industry is growing but only in numbers because lately, we have more than 10,000 artistes doing all kinds of music genres including reggae, RnB, rap, afrobeat, dancehall, while there are some who don’t even know the style they are doing. Isaac Ssejjombwe looks at artistes whose craft has not been appreciated by Ugandans despite being around for years.
Naira Ali is probably one of the vocally-gifted musicians we have in Uganda who can do anything with her voice. Some of her songs include Okikola Otya, Tulo, Muntu Wange, Shy Gal featuring Ziza Bafana, Ngandi, Breaking Down, Binyuma, Masala and Sinze, among others but of all these songs, you can barely find one that took over airwaves. Despite being a great stage performer too, Naira Ali has not been able to cut the mark like she potentially promises. Having started her music career in 2008, Naira Ali only broke out in 2013 and while artistes of yesterday who have come after her have staged concerts, the only thing the singer prides in is a listeners’ party she held at Hotel Africana three years ago. It was successful. We laud her tenacity but we wonder where she sees herself. Maybe she should consider changing her genre of music from afro and urban to kidandali.
In 2014, Martin Nkoyoyo, known to his fans as Yoyo, had a concert dubbed Yoyo 365-the Reflect at the National Theatre but only a handful of people turned up. What can we say? To many, the guy was more famous for his muscular body which he always flaunted in his music videos. Clearly he spends more time in the gym than in studio. Just like Helen Lukoma, Yoyo has also had stints in the acting business and in one of the interviews he did with Sqoop magazine, he admitted that few people knew he was an actor. “I am an actor too but most of my fans do not know that,” he said.
Yoyo’s music dream kicked off in 2001 with a song titled Your Man, later releasing Silimba, Tongana, Alulu, Telephone and Ansana. A nephew to Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo, Yoyo seemed to be doing well, only for things to stop as soon as he had started.
Baboon Forest was the thing back in 2009-2010. The group consisted GNL Zamba, Big Tril and Mun G. When GNL left for outside countries, he entrusted the group in the hands of Big Tril. No sooner had he taken up the task, than his craft started deteriorating. Mun G left the group to form his own and not long later, Big Tril also left the group and since then his solo career has been limping. He did Push Harder, Batuwulira featuring Fille and Kyoyagala with Maurice Kirya but in all his hustle, Raymond Rowland Kaiza seems to always be overshadowed by his collabo mates.
Although Big Tril believes he was Born in Greatness to Rise Into a Legend, fate seemed to be saying otherwise, so much that he moved to Nigeria this year, where he is said to be cooking up something. We’ll watch the space.
This girl should be given a benefit of the doubt. For every three songs she does, at least one makes it to people’s ears for example Same Way with Geosteady, and lately Cherie. Her other songs are Mwagara Biriyo and Yegwe Gwendota. Jazmine made a debut in 2014 with the song You Know, which she did with Rabadaba then she disappeared. She returned with Same Way. Before, Jazmine had been affiliated to quite a number of camps like Team No Sleep, Buddies and others. Her career started stagnating but with her manager Bushington, who has a lot of contacts, Jazmine found herself in Coke Studio. This kind of revived her career because she got exposure and when she returned, people started paying attention. This year, MTV Base commended her among the three artistes to watch alongside Ykee Benda and Ceaserous. Well, we are watching!
Atlas Da African
It is said that at the age of 12, Atlas had the skills to open up for Will Smith, Redman, Black Moon, Run DMC, ICE-T and LL cool J. In 2004 he appeared on Much Music TV after winning a nationwide freestyle competition to open up for Fabolous. The guy is also claimed to be among the best English speaking rappers in Africa. With that kind of resume, you would expect Atlas to rule hip hop airwaves, but wapi. Apart from rapping at little known gigs and showing face at events, Atlas has shares in Deuces Entertainment, a record label based in Kansanga. But again, we all know about hip hop in UG, so maybe Atlas should have stayed in the US where his career gave promise.
Helen Lukoma has done almost everything to remain relevant in the entertainment business. She has sang, been a video vixen, owned a boutique although she prefers to be called a fashion collector (no difference), and also acted in several local series. Could it be doing these many things at ago that has left Lukoma’s music career stunted? What with the girl known more for her indecency that than doing music? A career she started back in 2009 with her then best friend Brenda Nambi after the two breaking away from the Obsessions to form HB Toxic. They were signed by Talent Africa but their contract was terminated after a short while and both went solo in 2012. A graduate of International Business at Makerere University Business School (Mubs), Lukoma has songs Allergy, Super Striker, Suicidal, Ndaga Muntu and Sembera featuring Leila Kayondo. We cannot off head think of how any goes – that’s how bad it is.
When they say birds of a feather flock together, these two define it well. (We are not certain about the BFF position anymore though). These two do the same things but unlike Lukoma, Leila Kayondo is less unfortunate because she wasted a lot of chances of being a successful artiste. Besides having a financer in SK Mbuga, not everyone is fortunate enough to get the collaborations Leila has in the industry. Collaborations you would think could have pushed her to the next level – Relaxing and Hooray with Jose Chameleone, she has a song with Radio and Weasel Lero Tompona, One Moment with GNL Zamba, Kankutijise with Aziz Azion and Kikute with Nyanda of Brick and Lace. But things jam for this girl.
Having started her career in 2007 with the girl group Dream Galz, Leila broke out with solo singles Nkwagala Nyo, Awo and Kuzina Nawe. She promised a bright future but like they say, you either gat it or not!
Of all the girls from Dream Galz, Renah Nalumansi is the one that has been a little consistent but that is only a comparison of the three. When you put her on the Ugandan music scene, girl is still struggling to make a hit.
Nalumansi has strong vocals, so she was expected to thrive. When she left Dream Galz, she was signed by Suudiman but she later opted out and flew solo career before joining Switdrim Music in 2012.
In 2015, she had a concert at PTC on Salaama Rd. Forget the choice of venue, the show was meh but Renah promised to have another show – we are still waiting. In her time, the tiny singer has done songs Nyongera, Ontambuzza, Kasooto, Kasikonda, Ontambuzza, Ndi Mugumu, Taliyo and Gubumbujja, songs only known by a small section of people. In fact last year, Renah, Leila and Anita –the original members of Dream Galz, met and did a song titled Walala. It brought back the energy we saw in the group but we must have hurried to assume they were contemplating getting back together.