They may be stunts and may cost them so much, but artistes have the power to set the bar with the moves they make to boost their publicity and worth.
The following happened in 2005.
Jackson Makini, alias Prezzo, was a new artiste on Kenya’s music circuit. His mother had sponsored an expensive trip for the son to Dar-es-Salaam.
He was going to meet Nazizi Hirji, a rapper and singer with successful duo Necessary Noize. The two wanted to record a song that did not even exist.
All they knew was that they wanted to work with P Funk, a high profile producer in Dar. Long story short, Prezzo and Nazizi partied hard, failed to get that studio time with P Funk, lost inspiration and ended up penning the song, Let’s Get Down from a cemetery… And eventually recorded it with an expatriate producer they both had never heard of.
The reason Prezzo and Nazizi ended up recording with a producer they had never heard of, was basically because he was guilty of going back to his mother with nothing, even after she had sponsored his trip.
The influence of Prezzo’s mother on his career has been documented, that many believe he did not lift a finger in the making of the star he became.
Yet, even with the help of his mother, there were many decisions Prezzo made.
He took some risks, and one of those was blowing over Ksh100,000 (about Shs3.5m) to hire a helicopter to take him for the Chaguo Teenies Awards.
The awards were coming almost a month after Prezzo had released the video for Naleta Action and Let’s Get Down and they were catching on.
He was a nominee in the awards and wanted to make a statement.
“We had a show in Nakuru on Friday, and we would travel back and attend the awards on Saturday in Nairobi,” Prezzo said.
But before his Nakuru show, earlier on Friday, he was on the road to Wilson Airport in Nairobi to hire one of their helicopters.
“It was easier since my music had gone around and they knew who I was,” Prezzo told CTA, a Kenyan YouTube channel in one of the interviews.
The distance between Wilson Airport and the venue was about five minutes but he had paid insanely that he had to under declare it by half to ensure fellow artistes did not make him a laughing stock.
After paying all the money for the chopper, he alerted the show organisers.
On D-day though, the skies opened up . The event was shifted to an indoor space. He had already paid. Thankfully, it stopped raining.
Now Prezzo had to convince the show organisers to bring the show back outdoors to ensure his arrival goes as planned. The organisers wanted part of the stunt, thus shifting the show back to the gardens.
Prezzo’s arrival in a chopper made news, even that day’s prime time news.Many Kenyan music lovers remember him by that moment.
From a brand perspective, Prezzo raised the bar, Kenyan promoters that came to him after that knew he was not moving from Nairobi to Mombasa by bus, but by plane.
Now this happened last week. In Uganda. Spice Diana tried a similar stunt. First it was for an interview at NTV, then Sanyu FM, where the singer was showing up with an entourage of mean-looking bodyguards.
Many Ugandans questioned Spice Diana’s decisions and if it was worth it.
It is time artistes claimed the star shine they have earned over the years because promoters or whoever hires them will never give them that worth if they do not prove it.
What Spice Diana is doing today is not different from what Prezzo did at the Chaguo Teenies Awards those years ago. The difference is that his was a one-off gamble that paid off and created a culture.
For instance, Prezzo said after that stunt, Kenyan artistes started demanding for flights as opposed to buses, which they would travel for upcountry shows. Prezzo created the showbiz culture in that industry.
“People started writing false stories about my worth, some said I owned a chopper, but who was I to say no?”
Of course, we do not know the end game of Spice Diana’s stunt or how long it will last. For publicity purposes though, she already has people talking. Will it raise her bill? Probably.
Will she start another phase of celebrity culture? Only time can tell.