When they listen to the likes of Fred Masagazi, Philly Lutaaya, Elly Wamala, Herman Basudde, Paul Kafeero and Jimmy Katumba among several others, fans and critics alike concede that there was something special about these fallen Ugandan musicians of yester generation.
Even with less sophisticated production technology, these musicians crafted such precious music that makes one wonder what the current generation of talented artists is doing wrong, even with improved production technology.
Every Christmas season almost three decades now bears witness to the Late Philly Lutaaya. His Christmas album comes alive again, even when several other musicians have done Christmas songs over the years.
There’s something about his Christmas songs both in message and flow that settles perfectly with the Christmas mood. Get any Christmas song from a current generation musician, play it side by side with a Philly Lutaaya Christmas song and you’ll find the Philly Lutaaya song better.
There was a time some of the most gifted Ugandan musicians did renditions of the late Philly Lutaaya, yet they too would concede that the originals sound and feel better. Listen to any Philly Lutaaya rendition side by side with an original and you’ll still find the original so special.
If you are an ardent collector of Ugandan music, check your playlist and you’ll come across a Gravity Omutujju rendition of Paul Kafeero’s Walumbe Zzaaya, or Bobi Wine rendition of Paul Kafeero’s Depot Naziggala or a Rema Namakula rendition of Elly Wamala’s Lowoza Kunze.
What made their music so special, that even when some of the most gifted musicians of our generation redid the late Elly Wamala’s songs, the originals sound sweeter? What did they do that the current generation is getting wrong?
Even when The Ebonies returned to music, they still haven’t done a song that equals any from the Jimmy Katumba generation. They have instead resorted to redoing songs from the Jimmy Katumba generation and they still don’t sound as good!
Place any Kadongo kamu song from this generation alongside any of Herman Basudde or Paul Kafeero’s song and you will realize that theirs was exceptional Kadongo kamu, spiced with amazing narrative and humor, where need arose.
Are we just suffering from the “Basiima Ogenze” syndrome where Ugandans only respect the dead, or these guys were genuinely exceptional? When time comes, are there Ugandan songs from this generation that you see being redone by Ugandan musicians from future generations?
Truth is, these musicians were exceptional, produced amazing music and their songs have so much repeat value. There are more chances of having an Elly Wamala or Philly Lutaaya song redone by musicians in the future, than redoing a song from this generation.
Much as it is hard to explain what exactly they did right, we shall try to dissect the very reasons that made their music right. We shall try to point out those factors that we consider as having been responsible for that amazing music and its repeat value.
Foremost, majority of those musicians were not simply recording artists. They were performing artists who knew music technically and could play an instrument or two. In fact, they recorded less and performed more.
That way, they knew the very technicalities of their music right from inception. They knew what kind of instrumentation they wanted their songs to have, as well as melody and backup vocal dynamics. They knew the anatomy of music.
Today, there are so many gifted vocalists who enter the trade when they can’t tell one key from another. If you think this is an exaggeration, spend a day at any audio studio and you’ll be shocked by the number of recording artists who walk in and can’t tell one key from another.
Secondly, to most of them music was a passion, not just a job. They were interested in learning new things and focused on crafting good music before even thinking about the money or a concert. Yet with this generation, there are so many who walk into the trade just to earn a living.
That way, they’ll walk into the nearest studio, ask for a track similar to that of a certain famous song they know, try to sing like a famous musician they know, get a few friends and assemble them for a video shoot. They will then push their music rigorously and organize a concert thereafter.
There’s no passion, no professionalism, no desire to learn and get better. It comes down to sensationalism and making ends meet. There obviously are certain musicians who still have the passion and desire to do good music, but a whole lot of them walk in for the money.
The fallen heroes are also known for taking their time while crafting a song. They would carefully select their lyrics, their instruments and message, as well as ensuring that the mood of the song and their vocals suited the message of the song.
In this generation, a musician will post on Facebook that they are in studio; and two weeks later, the song would be complete, including the video. The desire to have a new song out there forces our musicians to release have baked music, which would sound better if given ample time in crafting it.
In all, passion, professionalism and technical know how are the three major things that largely separate the fine Ugandan musicians of yester generation from this generation. Those are also largely the reasons why their music is eternal.