WIN OR LOSE? Two weeks ago, Moses Ssekibogo, popularly known as Radio was beaten into coma and died yesterday at Case Hospital. However, even as fans sympathised with his state, they ridiculed the singer-songwriter’s record of violence. Ian Ortega writes on violence in the music industry.
While A Pass fought his musical wars with Geosteady and Barbie Jay on social media, in the early days of Uganda’s music industry, these wars were settled with fists and stunts. It is something that to many was a necessary evil – the extremes built showbiz, and showbiz sold songs, for some, it sold albums. With Mowzey Radio dead from the effects of a fight, we wonder: Is there a limit to this violence? When is enough, enough?
Would there have been a music industry without the firm rocks of the violence upon which many claim it was anchored? We take a look back at some of the violent feuds in the music industry, most among artistes and their crews, a few between artistes and the public.
Violence: Good for showbiz or a disaster in the making?
Chameleone vs DJ Michael
The fall out between the Chameleone and DJ Michael aka King Michael has always been over a woman, aka sponsor. Although the two are now often seen together, this has not always been the case. The two were feuding over the money-bags of the industry, Cheri Adyeri, the owner of Cafe Cheri in Kabalagala. Their beef lasted all the way from 2009 until 2014 when Ragga Dee reunited them. In 2016, the two artistes publicly declared the end of their feuds. It was a sign that beef does not have to last. Sometimes forgiveness is the answer if the industry is to grow.
Chameleone’s domestic violence allegations aside, he was reported slapping Club Guvnor’s DJ Bryan while, a thing that saw him banned from the club.
Bebe Cool vs Bobi Wine
Of all the fights in the industry, none has lasted as long as the Bebe Cool-Bobi Wine feud. It is the closest Uganda’s music industry has come to a Tupac-Biggie feud, a West Coast vs East Coast as Firebase drew the lines with Gagamel. Although Firebase was started by Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine, the two went separate ways, ways that until now have never joined. In 2009, Bebe Cool was hospitalised at Mayo Hospital as a result of the punches inflicted by Bobi Wine at the annual Ekitobero show at Nakivubo. It was the peak of their violent encounters.
However, one thing cannot be disputed, nothing kept the two in the limelight than their beef. They dominated the entertainment headlines as a result of this rivalry that often times turned violent. It worked for them musically though, as songs such as Mr Katala, Kasepiki, Bogolako, Wesotinge, Coccidiosis became popular. While appearing on Miles Rwamiti’s show, Bebe Cool agreed that this beef was crucial for solidifying the music industry, although he did confess that violence as a showbiz tool had expired.
Rabadada vs Goodlyfe
It was the violence that shocked the nation, and could also have been the climax. Having earlier been buddies, the Goodlyfe boys fell out with Rabadaba. The two were to meet at Deposh in Kabalagala where an exchange of words happened. It is alleged that following an attack by Thaddeus Buyengo (RIP), Rabadaba had gone forward to retaliate by stabbing the late with a benet in the abdomen.
The industry was lost for words. Many believe this incident was the start of Rabadaba’s musical decline. It saw him lose much of his support as many began to associate him with violence and branded him as a case of ‘fame getting into one’s head’.
The acid scare or stunt?
Although the name Grace Nakimeera is now a forgotten one for many, at her prime, she did get many talking. While performing at the 2010 annual street jam, a man from the crowd poured a hot liquid on Grace Nakimeera that many suspected to have been acid. Later on it turned out that this was not acid but rather cooking oil and neither was it hot as alleged.
According to the music analysts, Nakimeera could have faked the attack as a marketing strategy for her Anfukula concert that was slated on the same day as the Goodlyfe concert. “It was a pity-party but also a showbiz stunt. It would drive attention towards her, and it did work for her concert’s success,” says Farouk Mukasa who attended the street jam. It then became a question of how far were artistes willing to go to attract attention. And if it was not a stunt, does it then suggest that the Goodlyfe had been the ones behind the attack?
Hot temper on the loose?
Journalists have often come in the line of danger in the course of their work. One such incident was televised as Eddy Kenzo, then fresh from a US tour rained punches on Dembe FM talkshow host, Kasuku (Isaac Katende). This followed Kasuku’s comments at the press conference where he alleged Kenzo had paid some TV presenters not to play Big Eye’s music. Kenzo wasted no time, jumped over the tables and went straight for the fleeing Kasuku. The fans once again were divided. Majority thought Kenzo had gone overboard given that he was now an international brand while others argued that Kasuku, the pessimist deserved to be disciplined. Nonetheless, Kenzo would go on to bring a BET award home. He has, however, not been implicated in any violent act, although he threatened to beat up Dembe FM journalists sometime last year.
Although he was slim-built, Mowzey Radio was always the centre of fights, violence and chaos. He was vocal, and knew a thing or two on how to start a fight. During the ‘Save UG Music’ meeting, Radio grabbed a microphone from radio personality Eddie Ssendi whom he accused of lacking the moral authority to speak on behalf of musicians. He insulted the already humiliated Ssendi while hitting hard on the table to drive the point home. Months earlier, a video circulated on social forums showing Radio fighting off a traffic officer in Nsambya. When they fell out with Jeff Kiiwa, Radio invited journalists as he loaded Kiiwa’s property onto a truck and publicly threw him out of their shared space. Radio was severally thumped by a few artistes such as Bebe Cool, and he too thumped many such as Khalifah Aganaga.
But this time round, lady luck played him the wrong cards. Give Radio alcohol and you were certain a fight was about to ensue.
At De Bar in Entebbe, Mowzey Radio started pouring alcohol on revellers in the bar, which infuriated the owner. He was then thrown out of the bar. Once outside, a fight ensued. In the morning, the nation woke up to the news of the singer in coma.
Painful as it is to say, his death was an end that many saw coming, with tell-tale signs along the way. Despite all this, the industry was united in prayer, hoping for the quickest recovery of this great artiste.
Does the end justify the means?
Although violence in the industry has carried its benefits – Bebe Cool, Bobi Wine, Chameleone rode on this as they released hit-back songs – the costs have always proven to outweigh all the gains. Lives have been lost, careers have been nipped in the bud, while reputations have been tainted.
The music industry could have been built on the foundation of violence, but violence does not present itself as the bridge upon which the industry shall be sustained. There is a place for peaceful beef, but there is certainly none for violent beef.
It is time the stakeholders in the industry open up conversations on the physical fights that so often bring down the big names in the industry. Radio’s death could be the warning bell, and sooner than later, the industry could have its own Tupac episode.