Tracing the beef: Following the release of Bebe Cool’s top performers in 2017, many artistes were not that elated and among those was Eddy Kenzo. Since his BET award, Eddy Kenzo has performed in different African countries and won an Afrima last year, so when the artiste saw his name or any of his songs missing on Bebe Cool’s list, he seemed to take it personally. Lawrence Ogwal talks to him.
Why are you fighting Bebe Cool?
I am not fighting Bebe Cool and I do not hold any grudge against him. I just do not like his actions and the words that come out of his mouth. Bebe Cool is always talking about every successful artiste. When we started the save UG music campaign, Bebe Cool refused to join us.
But we thought you were just mad about his Best 2017 list where you were not included?
It was not about the list because he does it every year and it is his opinion. He has brainwashed these young artistes and you will never hear him mention people who are better than him musically; Radio and Weasel, Kenzo, Chameleone and Bobi Wine.
Bebe Cool has been in the industry for long, don’t you think what he says makes sense sometimes?
Being in the industry for long is not my problem. I am better than him in everything, I have everything and the only part where he beats me is age because I heard he is turning 50 soon (Bebe Cool is 40 years old). If he does not act his age then we will not respect him. I have known Bebe Cool for long in fact when I joined Gagamel at 15 years, he chased me to go back to school, saying police would arrest him for working with young children. He is one of the reasons I went back to the streets to hustle afresh.
Why don’t you take the fight off social media?
When he posted the list on his social media, he made it public and that is the reason I have to reply him publicly.
Rumour has it that the indifferences between you two started when you took Rema away from Gagamel.
Why would he hate me? Rema is now successful and he should be thanking me for taking good care of her and putting her to the level where she is among the top paid female artistes in Uganda.
That aside, what do you think of Bebe Cool as an artiste?
Bebe Cool has always been a good artiste, with good music but I think he has lost track, doing things that he should not be doing.
When was the last time you met Bebe Cool and what happened?
When I meet Bebe Cool, we greet each other to show him that I do not have a problem with him. The last time we met was at Producer Danz Kumapeesa’s burial.
Do you see yourself as a successful artiste?
If where I started from to where I am and what I have achieved is anything to go by, then I will say I am very successful. God would be annoyed with me if I said I am not successful because I have my own house and the car I drive does not belong to Bobi Wine or any other person, but me.
What are you upto musically?
Unlike last year where I was doing shows from one country to another, I am free right now and I will be in Uganda until March before I travel again. I am focusing on fresh music.
Most of your shows are outside Uganda, when do you perform in Uganda?
According to research, my biggest fanbase is in Uganda. I have been to more than 50 countries just because of the song Sitya Loss.
The song Sitya Loss is the reason you are going places, don’t the fans ask you about the Ghetto Kids?
In every country I go, they ask why I did not travel with the Ghetto Kids. I would want to perform with them but the budget is always tight since they are many and besides that, they are minors and my shows happen at night and the law does not allow them to perform at night.
What have you picked from some of the countries you have travelled to?
I have learnt that music is one thing that sells a country. When one does a song and it crosses to Burkina Faso or Gambia or even Germany, it will be on their playlist for some good years and whenever one asks whose music is playing, they will tell them it is from Uganda. The other thing I have learnt is that our artistes are talented but they do not know and when I try to tell them how best they can use their talent, they think I am bragging so I have left it at that.
How come only a few artistes have managed to do music that has gone international?
Our artistes are talented but not creative. It is because of creativity that you will get your music crossing borders because music is sold by numbers. Our artistes have to think outside the box and also think about other people outside Uganda.
Did you ever see yourself coming this far?
When I realised I was doing so many things so fast, I knew only the sky was going to be the limit. I did not struggle much in the music industry, I have never had a flopped concert ever since I started.
You are the only person with a BET award in Uganda, do you still carry that in your mind?
To date, I cannot believe that I have a BET award. When I look at it, it gives me courage to work even harder and aim for another one or a Grammy. I know I may not be able to win the Grammy but we are many artistes in Uganda, at least one of them should work hard and bring it home.
Do you think the BET award is the reason you are going places?
I would not think so, because it is just an award recognising me for the good work I have done. It means they saw the potential in me and they decided to reward the brand Eddy Kenzo.
You are a member of the save Uganda music Campaign, do you think it is going to be saved?
Ugandans can save our music if they work together but you will find artistes such as Sheebah running to Solidstar for a collabo. Those Nigerian artistes work on songs with Ugandans and leave them here, they
never perform them in Nigeria.
Have you ever seen Wizkid performing the songs he did with Radio and Weasel?
Not even when he came to Uganda. But when Sheebah collaborates with Kenzo, Sheebah’s fans will know Kenzo, Kenzo’s international platform will know Sheebah and music will move places. I am not saying we should not work with these Nigerians or international artistes, we need them for inspiration.
In your opinion, what then do you think can save Ugandan music?
Artistes should stop working under pressure. I am sorry to give this example but you will find an artiste like Bebe Cool shooting expensive videos with no returns. He forgets he does not have a house where to put his family and he is wasting money on videos yet he is not like Eddy Kenzo who has shows abroad every month. Bebe Cool’s shows are in Uganda and they do not pay more than Shs4m.