Still about that list: For the past two weeks, Bebe Cool has been a hated man by some artistes. Reason? His list of best performing artistes last year. Much as it was his opinion, some musicians felt cheated. In an interview with this magazine last week, Eddy Kenzo had so much to say about Bebe Cool. This week, Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with the Gagamel boss.
What criteria did you use to list your top artistes last year?
With 25 years in this industry, I believe I have the moral authority to certify who has done well and who has not. Before I made that list, I did some research; I went to some bars and listened to the most played music, I asked DJs what the best songs were and I asked some people what songs they love listening to. That list was not made by mistake.
The artistes that appeared there had two or more hit songs in 2017. The culture of Uganda’s music industry has always been about having only one hit song and the artiste rides on that but it is no longer the case. There is a lot of competition and artistes have to know that.
But 25 years does not give you the right to weigh other people.
Some people said I am demotivating some musicians but on the contrary, I am motivating the ones I mentioned to work even better. I have put them on a cross to prove themselves. Besides that, the Ugandan music industry no longer has respectable awards where artistes would be recognised for the work they did that year so my list could be such.
Did that list intend to leave out Kenzo? I mean, he won some awards, had a successful concert and had a hit in Jubilation?
My list had nothing to do with Eddy Kenzo. He did not fall in that category of musicians who I felt did well last year.
He claimed you hate him because of Rema.
That is very stupid of him. I personally brought up Rema in Gagamel. I knew her before him.
He also claims to have been in Gagamel when he was 15 but you chased him away to return to school.
He [Kenzo] has never been in Gagamel. You know the artistes that went through my hands; Eighton and Rains, Rema, Edith K, Denzel, Rama P, among others.
Weasel was also furious about the list. Where does he come in, in all this?
They are all trying to look for relevance. They have this mentality that if you attack Bebe Cool, then he will hit back at you and somehow you become relevant.
Now that you have seen what the list did, will this be the last one?
Come January 2, 2019, I will still make a list of those artistes I feel have done well this year.
So after disorganising the industry with the list, you run to South Africa.
[Laughs]. I went to South Africa to shoot two videos; Want It and Up and Wind. They will be released soon. They were shot by Sesan, one of the biggest video directors in Africa.
Tell us more about these songs.
Want It is a reggaeton song I came up with because I realised we do not have so many songs like these. You will love it. Up and Wind is a club banger. It’s a song that will get you shaking on the dancefloor.
We saw a photo of you carrying A Pass on your laps yet he has on several occasions thrown jibes at you. Did you guys squash the beef?
I do not have any problem with A Pass. He is a good artiste and a good learner. If you have noticed, he spends a year without releasing music and that gets people talking so when he decides to release one song, everyone will be anticipating it. All those artistes including Kenzo are walking through the road I dug.
There is a huge difference between Bebe Cool now and the old Bebe. Why the sudden shift?
True. And this is because everything has evolved. I anticipated that it would be evolving in the last five years and I planned, something other big musicians did not. That is why they are suffering now. They are under a lot of pressure from the young artistes.
So should we assume that you are also planning for the next five years?
Yes and not for just five years. I am going to be untouchable for the next 15 years.
And how have you planned this?
I cannot disclose my plans now but you will just be witnessing. I am not in this industry by mistake.
At some point, you were considered the next Lucky Dube and this was because you had branded yourself as a reggae artiste. What happened?
The dream has not yet died yet but reggae is the kind of music that kicks in with age. I will embark on the reggae journey later and rest assured I will be a reggae icon in Africa by the time I turn 50-55 years. I will have more than 50 reggae songs by then. For now, I am doing market styles and that is club music. I only do reggae underground like I did Onepikira last year and I have two reggae songs I will be releasing this year as well.
You said in one of the interviews that you had big plans for Rema but she disappointed you. Do you have anyone else you are mentoring at the moment?
I was preparing Edith K for greater things but it seems she has other plans. This year, I am seriously starting my record company and I will be announcing two guys and two girls.
Give us a specific time you will be doing this?
April or May. Gagamel International is going to be one of the best record companies in East Africa.
Why do you say this?
Because I have been able to see how big record companies do it.
Some artistes claim they are international because of the awards they win abroad. Will you consider yourself international after winning?
I have won awards and been nominated abroad before but my main aim is to get contacts and know directions to certain things.
You are still shooting videos from abroad. Why don’t you invest that money in our local directors?
There is a lot lacking back home. It is not that I do not want to use our directors but I want quality work. I am doing something that they will benefit from this year.
And what is that?
I plan to have Sesan come to Uganda and teach several directors the different aspects of a camera. Most of our local directors did not study this profession. They just learn from friends without even knowing the simple basics. So I decided to use my money and fly him over here with a couple of other people to teach them things such as what type of cameras are good to use, when to use it, how to shoot using different lighting and the clarity of the picture, among other things.
When is this project starting?
Soon. Before mid this year. I want him to come for a week and after taking them through certain drills, he will go back and return after three weeks to see their progress. I also want our directors to have a relationship with him.
Do you think this is the best way to improve our music industry?
There is a lot to be done but we are taking things step by step. With Sesan teaching the directors, you are going to see quality videos from Uganda and I have not stopped at that because I have also given Gravity Omutujju and Ykee Benda his number. They are going to work with him as well.