Malawi’s hip hop industry, affectionately referred to as M-Dubz by those who follow it, has come a long way to be where it is and there are a lot of artists that have contributed immensely for the genre to be generally accepted.
From the days of Boys Lazy, Rough Edge, Criminal A and King Bywell C to an era where acts such as Real Elements, Bantu Khamradz, Third Eye, Hyphen and Nameless have asserted their mark, it certainly has not been an easy journey.
Thus, when I indulged Nameless’ Aimor, real name Chikondi Kangulu, for this interview, it was akin to taking him on that lengthy journey that Malawi HipHop has been on and he was quick to say that today, Hip Hop has evolved, not just in M-Dubz but globally.
What saddens him though is the fact that despite making inroads, there is still a lot that needs to be done, stressing that modern day rappers must selflessly promote the genre and safeguard its legacy and not just lifestyle.
“Many of today’s rappers are much into fun and not that impactful. Nowadays many of those who are in Hip Hop are also associated with tatoos, those different colour dreadlocks and the like and that’s the lifestyle. Content of the American rappers is what used to inspire many those days,” Aimor says.
Indeed, if most of the rap artists that we have today were to maintain originality in their compositions and not just adopt wholesale the western influence, things might have just turn out different. They certainly can borrow a leaf from Nameless, whose exploits were largely catapulted by their track, K-Shii and Bobo.
This was a song which Nameless had conveniently crafted after reputable United States based Rhythm and Blues duo, K-Ci and Jojo (the Hailey brothers) were a no show in Malawi despite organisers having already gone all over town building the hype. That was many years ago but the song still resonates with those that were around during the time of the ill-fated show.
Another song from the outfit which did fairly well is one called ‘Zalowa China’ which saw Aimor and company rap about how ‘fake’ and non-dependable everything on planet earth had become, equating it to fake
merchandise synonymous with some Chinese-owned shops which at the time, were proliferating in the country. The other striking feature is that both these two songs were done in Chichewa.
Aimor says the Hip Hop industry is somehow retrogressing, in terms of content. He was however quick to add that when it comes to quality, artists are doing fine.
“It is however difficult to change content because people move with time. I feel like for content everyone is free to write whatever they want. As long as it is changing, it affects the whole industry,” he says.
He is also strongly of the view that having a buoyant economy could empower the youth to priotise music and produce good music.
“Trust me, there are some people out there who are talented but they weigh up on opportunities. They choose other things instead of music because they feel music cannot take them somewhere,” Aimor says.
He affirmed to Weekender that he is still very much into music despite being dormant at the moment.
Aimor Nameless, who had his last release in 2014, said there is a lot more that needs to be done to nourish M-Dubz HipHop and he says fans should expect to see much coming, not just from him, Hip Hop wise.
“My last release in 2014 was ‘The Dead Central Legion’ which had tracks like ‘Kuvepha’. But in Hip Hop nowadays, I can say people are doing much and I can predict that much is coming,” Nameless said.
It cannot be disputed that several artists have emerged on the scene of late and as HipHop has been transitioning from the 1990s down to the millennium, some local artists have been experimenting by fusing it with other elements such as traditional beats. Perhaps this is the reason why Aimor remains optimistic that there are good tidings ahead.
But how come we no longer get to hear Nameless, let alone see him performing in the country or beyond borders?
Aimor says he has been up and down because music is really involving and needs much time.
“I am in Harare, Zimbabwe right now and I run a pharmacy. I failed to balance up the two, music and business, but I exist in music conditionally. I am still in music and being a producer also, I still have a studio,” he says.
The artist says he has plans to work on a project and a lot would depend on how that would go.
“There are a number of things that pull down artists ranging from how one can balance up his or her normal life with music career. One can be an artist at the same time an employee. So people weigh benefits, what music brings them and what career brings them as well,” Aimor adds.
He caps it all off by recognizing the great work that those in media do by promoting and uplifting talent in the country, arguing many are progressing in music because of exposure.
At this point, memories came flashing in my mind of media personalities that contributed immensely to the promotion of HipHop. Disc Jockeys such as Kenny Klips (Kenny Wako) , Ill the Illest, DJ Gwynz, Vic Smooth, the Big Dog (Shingirai Mpesi), Willie Soko and Honey K (Mphatso Tambala) did a lot to push Hip-Hop and RnB, through the radio, into the homes of most people as well as playing it in clubs. Those pushing the mighty pen have also done their bit by constantly writing about HipHop. It was therefore only right and proper that Nameless pays his tribute.
“Radios are now all over. Television Stations are also there. So are newspapers…these work much, in as far as pushing for different projects are concerned,” he says.
One can only hope that as the times change and HipHop continues to evolve, the legacy of outfits such as Nameless will be cemented. It must be pointed out that there are now young artists such as Eli Njuchi and Quest who appear to be ready and focused, perhaps to take M’dubz HiHop into the future.