Mixed Fortunes, Sparks of Success and Under performances have highlighted 2017 Uganda Music Industry thus far.


Nicholas Kalungi.

For that past six months, I have been quietly observing most of the things that have transpired in our much cherished music industry. Unlike the last ten years, in 2017, I chose to observe more and open my mouth only if I must.

For us that have invested so much time and money in this industry, we pay extra-ordinary attention to it. Our sincere intentions are clear and out for everyone to see.

Contrariwise, those that haven’t invested anything tangible have made it their habit to bash and undermine this industry at every opportunity they get. These nonstarters are preached about in the biblical ‘Judgment of Solomon’ story; in which King Solomon passed a verdict on a case involving two women that were both claiming motherhood of the same child. While the real mother wished for the baby to stay alive even if that meant having it given to the wrong mother, the latter preferred the baby divided into two halves if she wouldn’t have it. The music industry must be aware of such wicked characters.

Score Card: 2017 So Far!

The biggest musical highlight of the year, so far, is the Triplets Ghetto Kids. From featuring in the trending Unforgettable video; song sang by French Montana and Swae Lee, to performing the same song at the 2017 BET Awards in USA; these young kids have lifted the Uganda flag a little too high. They are now featuring in several media publications plus performing on several gigs across the USA. Regardless of how you look at it, this is a major milestone for not only Uganda but the whole of Africa. Just like the song title is, the Triplets Ghetto Kids are unforgettable!

Triplets Ghetto Kids after arriving in the USA for 2017 BET performance.

On the other hand, there is Bobi Wine. He may not be musically vibrant, but he is uplifting the music industry in a very uncommon manner. On 29th June 2017, Bobi Wine, real names Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu was overwhelmingly voted as the new member of parliament for Kyadondo East constituency, in a by-election. The by-election was sanctioned after the High Court nullified the election of FDC’s Apollo Kantinti, following a successful petition to court by NRM’s William Sitenda Sebalu who had lost in the February 2016 elections by a small margin of less than 400 votes. Bobi Wine’s political journey so far is one that paints the music industry with admirable colors of potential, competence and influence. Thanks to Bobi Wine, more people now respect the industry much more than they used before.

Bobi Wine at one of his rallies for the 2017 Kyadondo East By-Elections. He won.

Musicians such as Geosteady, Bebe Cool, Eddy Kenzo and Sheebah have had some decent success to write home about too.

Owooma by Geosteady ft Charly & Nina Guests and Performances at HiPipo Music Awards 2017
Owooma by Geosteady ft Charly & Nina Guests and Performances at HiPipo Music Awards 2017

Music-wise and in my opinion, Geosteady is doing extra-ordinarily well; out-performing most of the known big names with songs such as Tokendeza and Owooma ft Charley & Nina among others. He is finally getting the support and admiration that he deserves. It is my prayer that his concerts scheduled for September 2017 are a major success.

Bebe Cool, Eddy Kenzo and Sheebah continued to push higher and work harder. The three have very good videos and a few good audios. Mbozi za Malwa and Jubilation songs stand out for Bebe Cool and Eddy Kenzo respectively while Sheebah’s The Way video is mesmeric!

Eddy Kenzo, Sheebah Karungi and Bebe Cool are Uganda’s nominees in MTV MaMa Awards 2016.

Rema Namakula is having a few sparks here and there. Two of her songs are promising and can top the charts if well marketed. These are; Yo Sweet and Banyabo. Plus, she had planned and actually announced a series of concerts but these were later postponed indefinitely. Maybe this explains why her would be concert lead songs (Yo Sweet and Banyabo) are not getting the deserved promotion.

Jackie Kizito is standing out in the Folk, Kadongo Kamu, and Band sub categories. After winning the prestigious 2017 HiPipo Music Award for the best Folk song – Mayumba Kumi at the beginning of February, Jackie Kizito has never looked back. She followed up her award victory with extra-ordinarily successful Mayumba Kumi concerts held in more than twenty locations. Wherever they went, they were a success. Currently, together with her Mwagala Band and Events team, she has embarked on Mayumba Kumi country tour, starting with Southern, South West and Western Uganda.

Jackie Kizito after winning the prestigious HiPipo Music Award for best Folk song.

Dr Jose Chameleone held successful shows dubbed ‘The Legend Hit after Hit’ concerts on 30th June, 1st and 2nd July. As expected of a star in his league, the obvious happened with hundreds of fans turning up at Lugogo Cricket Oval, Colline Hotel Mukono and Freedom City.

Juliana Kanyomozi made a comeback with I’m Still Here single. The new song received massive hype and attention across the region. Unfortunately, all this was cut short when the video was embroiled in mega controversy as both critics and several fans observed that the video was either copied or sampled from or inspired by Jennifer Lopez’s viral single – Ain’t Your Mama. The video producers (Gorilla Films’ Justin and Candice Campos) later clarified that a small part not the full video was inspired by Ain’t You Mama.  Juliana Kanyomozi then released Right Here which for lack of better words is yet to take off!

In a very special way, allow me recognize Latinum of the ‘Amanya Gange – My Name is Latinum’ fame. The young man means serious business. It remains to be seen whether he can use his latest fame to grow in to a big star.

Roden Y, Fille, Spice Diana, Ceaserous, Da Agent, Ykee Benda, B2C, Babarita, Lydia Jazmine, Jayman & T Paul and Lil Pazo are very energetic and competitive. Their works are out for everyone to see. If they can be more consistent and ambitious, then they have bigger chances of musical success and commercial break-even.

In 2017, we are yet to see the music strength and vitality of the dynamic Goodlyfe duo of Radio and Weasel, David Lutalo, Ziza Bafana, entire Golden Band, entire Da New Eagles, Chris Evans, Big Eye Starboss and Winnie Nwagi. Plus the rest of the industry. The fans are yearning for great works.

 What we ought to do in the second half of 2017?

A popular Spanish proverb when translated into English says; “A wise man changes his mind but a fool never changes.”  This simple and direct statement ought to be adopted by almost every stakeholder and well-wisher of the Uganda music industry if we are to move this sector to greater heights.

Clearly, if you don’t agree with me, then you are not in touch with the industry realities. Some of us that are in touch can tell you for free that the industry is somewhat stagnating with only a few artistes showing sparks of doing well. In my view, I am constrained to note that majority of our musicians are attaining and chest thumping over lukewarm success.

Having said that, I can happily note that all is not lost. Our artistes can still turn around these misfortunes and do much better.  They ought to learn from their past mistakes, copy the good things being done by their superior competitors while ignoring the wrongs the same are doing, undertake ambitious but realistic plans, invest more in creativity and also be open-minded.

On their part, the rest of the stakeholders should support the artistes through financial investment, attending concerts like we always do, giving candid feedback and praying for them. YES, each and every time you are praying, put our music industry in your prayers. Prayers move Mountains!