Still in it. Bebe Cool is one of the architects of the urban Ugandan music industry and more than a decade later, he is still on top of his game. The man who is not a stranger to controversy is launching his Kokodiosis album tonight. Edgar R. Batte sounded him out.
What has Bebe Cool been up to?
Working on my music and trying as much as I can to spend more time with my family. I am trying to create some more time to spend with my family, so I have to strike a good balance between doing music and my family because they need me. Of course I am now putting final touches to my Kokodiosis concert, which I have organised myself.
Why have you not worked with a promoter?
I wanted to give it a shot myself because last year I worked with a promoter who went around saying that he had made losses after the concert. My name was at stake and I don’t want to risk it, so this time round I am organising my own concert.
Talking about the concert, what does Kokodiosis mean?
I got the title of this song from coccidiosis, the disease that attacks chicken and in this song I flip the word to Kokodiosis, which I use to talk to different people who seem to have a lot of time to point out my weaknesses and what I have failed to achieve.
Who was this song exactly targeting?
It is a song through which I speak to supporters of certain artistes to find time to assess themselves before they go on to judge me or any other person. If you are saying that Bebe Cool has done this or has failed to do that, what have you done as a person? It is easy to criticise someone without doing a self-assessment of yourself.
We know Bobi Wine for always criticising you for not finishing your house and claiming to advise you to work hard, you even take a jibe at him in reference to the yacht he claims to own by using a canoe in the Kokodiosis video … and then some lines seem to attack Jose Chameleone, which is portrayed in the video when you use his dance stroke…
Yes it partly targets Bobi Wine and then Jose Chameleone. I didn’t like his dance strokes in Badilisha, so I use my video to portray this when we dance like he did and then people behind me fall, to show it is a lame stroke.
Do you think you still need to sing music that attacks others?
Yes. My music has always been music which carries messages but there are those songs I do for club and generally give them messages which might sound unserious but they have a strong message in them. Look at songs like Ndisa Buti, Bogola Ko and Kasepiki. Even if I am to attack someone, I do it in a clever way not like my nemesis Bobi Wine who even uses vulgar language. It is sad this year has not been good for him.
But he has collaborations with Jamaica’s Mr G?
Yes, but that is divided power. I am talking about Bebe Cool proving his individual power. Even then, the songs have failed to do well, maybe they are, I don’t know. I have better collabos like the remix of Bend Over with RDX, which is by far a better collaboration. In fact I am unveiling it tonight at the concert.
Your wife Zuena is now on television, hosting NTV’s Life stories show. How do you feel about this?
I am happy for her. She is a very lucky woman and NTV is lucky to have her because she fits in well and portrays Life Stories. She is a mother, a good listener and articulates such issues well. She will present very well and I am happy that after 11 years of being together, she can now work.
11 years later? It was rumoured that you previously didn’t want her to work. Are you a very protective man?
Of course I am. She is a very beautiful woman and my breakfast smile. I would not let any man take her from me, so I will protect her. Anyway I am glad she is on TV and she is good because she has done this before on K-Files with Karitas Karisimbi. She was not on the screen but behinds the scenes, so she has some good experience too.
What do you think of Mowzey Radio and Weasel’s BET nomination?
I think it was good to have Ugandan artistes represent us at international awards of such magnitude just the way I represented Uganda at the Mandela’s 90th Birthday celebrations In Hyde Park in London. I hear Jose Chameleone also won an award in the prestigious African Entertainment Awards in Canada, though I have not seen any footage of him there. It is also a pity that I was not able to see Radio and Weasel on the awards show that ran on TV. I think BET should be sensitive to artistes because they can cause them trouble back home if they are not seen anywhere in their footage.
What is your assessment of Good Lyfe’s music?
They are good but they are beginning to sound the same. When they started out they were a fresh sound but their songs seem to sound the same.
Which is your favourite Good Lyfe song?
(… he thinks long and hard.)
Oh you said their music when they started out was good… could Zuena be that song?
Oh yes, that was one of them. It made me hate them so much because the song kept playing in my head as I kept listening to it, but there is another song from their latest tracks, I forget its title.
Is it Magnetic?
No, not that one.
Is it Ekyaama?
Yes, that one.
What do you like about this particular song?
It is a slow and well produced.
Don’t you like the lyrics too?
Not really. Their lyrics are the usual, bedroom lyrics which you can find in any song.
There is word on the vine that you could be battling Bobi Wine again?
No. I beat him the first time… namukuba kifalu (I flogged him) hands down. I can only consider a rematch if he went on public television or radio and begged for it. I am sure he learnt the first time.
Radio and Weasel are as much your rivals as Bobi, would you battle them in a musical bout?
That is something I have not thought about but if they asked me, I would think about it and who knows we could square out. The big thing in any of these battles is Bebe Cool.
You recently parted ways with one of your Gagamel singers called Rema, why did she leave?
Rema thought she had grown big. I hear she got a manager who doesn’t even know how to speak English, and a promoter, Musa Kavuma of KT Promotions and Eagles Production who are organising an album launch for her. It is wrong. She is not yet ready. She has only six songs. I have nurtured this girl under my wing since she was 12 years and now she thinks she is big enough. I am not saying she will not be successful. I just thought she needed more time.
Why did she leave?
She thought she was ready to launch. How can you be under Gagamel and get a manager? Bebe Cool should be your manager if you are in Gagamel. Can you imagine she just sent me a text message saying she had quit. When she fails, it will be the same managers and promoters who will say that she does not listen and she is big-headed. The manager has now turned her into a weddings singer. This is the same thing that happened to Hajjati Madina (of Bibuuza fame). She was confused and she left Gagamel. Today she is nowhere to be heard.
When was the last time you spoke to Rema?
A few days ago, at Radio Simba’s Ekiggunda show. She came and said hello. The last time I had heard from her was when she sent me a message saying she had quit Gagamel.
Will she be performing at your Kokodiosis concert?
Nope. I will give chance to members of Gagamel to shine but I wish her all the best.
You speak like a parent. Now on parenting. Tabloids recently reported that you have 18-year-old son …
Yes, he is my son and yes he is 18 years old.
What is his name?
Which class is he?
He is currently in his Senior Four (S.4).
Where is his mother?
She is married to someone else, that is why I would not like to disclose more details about her.
Are you staying with your son?
Yes I am. He stays with us. Zuena suggested he stays with us so that I would not have divided attention. He is part of my family.
You recently held a birthday party, how old are you now?
I am 36 years old.
Where was the party?
It was at in Kiwatule at my construction site.
How far have you gone with the construction?
It is near completion. I am glad that when they are complete, I will be able to earn $1,200 (about Shs3.12m) every month from each of my four apartments, which is $4,800 (about Shs12.48m). That is good money for my family.
This is right behind your dad’s Kiwatule Recreation Centre. Tell me, what is your relationship with your dad?
We are fine. We used to have family problems, me and him.
What problems were these?
They had issues, him and my mum and as a son I got sucked in. However, when he got sick recently, we managed to talk and solve some of the problems, which is good. He was not much into my life as I grew up. I was raised by my mother. When we talked I got to realise that these were issues between them as lovers and my mother asked me to understand and put some of these issues behind us. We are fine.
Is this part of the reason why you belong to NRM yet your father runs the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)?
No. I love President Yoweri Museveni as an individual.
And as a president?
And yes as a president too, because he has done a lot for this country and he is still doing a lot.
Any messages for your fans?
They should come and support me. I am putting up an energetic performance. Gates will be open as early as 4pm and I know my fans love my stage entries. There will be eight entry points to Kyadondo Rugby grounds. The VIPs will be treated as VIPs and will have their entrance where they will not spend more than two minutes to access the venue. Even if it means for me to come and usher them in, I will do so.
Is kokodiosis a full album that you are releasing or its just the name of the concert?
It is a 12-track album, and I would like to thank my sponsors Nation Media Group brands like NTV, Daily Monitor, KFM then Pepsi and Hema Mineral water who have helped me put this concert together.