It is difficult to fit in your father’s shoes especially when he was talented, amazing, brilliant and a genius in the reggae music world.
It is even more difficult when you are talking of an artist of the calibre of Joseph Hill, who can be placed on the rich menu of the likes of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear, among others.
But there is a saying “like father like son” and so Joseph Hill’s son puts it clear that although his father was a genius in reggae music there is simply no difference with him.
This is in reaction to some quarters who have said Kenyatta is nowhere near his father.
Last year, Impakt Events brought into the country Lucky Dube’s son, who many felt his performance was not impressive.
He was simply nowhere near his father’s exploits.
But it is a different case with Kenyatta, whose mother, Pauline attested he was no different from his father.
“My husband was awesome and a genius. He was unique in his own way but Kenyatta is no different and I have pushed him to fit in his father’s shoes,” she said.
And just to show his ability, Kenyatta dropped some lyrics from one of his father’s songs at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre to the amazement of artists and the Rastafarian community which gave him a tumultuous welcome.
He also went on to offer a few lines in the popular song ‘One Stone.’
Kenyatta, his mother Pauline and two original members of Culture – Albert Walker and Telford Nelson jetted into the country on Wednesday through Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.
“The four of us are here but we have the other team coming from South Africa,” he said.
The other team that arrived on Wednesday afternoon is not made up of original members according to Walker and Nelson.
“We are the original members but the other members have just come in to support us,” Nelson said.
Kenyatta also parried away fears that they would perform with a CD assuring people that they do not play with a CD but rather they were here for live music.
“We don’t play with a CD. We will use the equipment and it’s a live band,” said Kenyatta flanked by Walker and Nelson.
The Jamaican team is in the country courtesy of Impakt Events led by musician Lucius Banda and will hold two performances with the first one at Mibawa Multipurpose Hall in Blantyre tonight and the last one at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe tomorrow.
While it has been difficult to hold press conferences with other international acts, Kenyatta and his team were humble enough to take questions right at the airport even though they had a long flight.
Kenyatta even took it upon himself to alight from the vehicle at Chileka Roundabout as they were waiting for a presidential convoy to pass and started interacting with the fans.
Kenyatta who trained audio engineer, said he felt at home just after his arrival at Chileka.
Kenyatta, who is the current leader for Culture, will perform alongside Lucius Banda, Black Missionaries, Anthony Makondetsa, Sam Simakweli, Nepman and Soul Raiders Band.
Kenyatta Hill’s career began the day his father’s ended.
Joseph Hill, singer and songwriter for the legendary Jamaican vocal trio Culture, collapsed and died while on a 2006 tour of Europe.
But to the amazement of promoters, fans and critics alike, Kenyatta stepped on stage and delivered electrifying performances time and again—19 shows in all— until the tour was complete.
Kenyatta is said to have given of himself so totally – as his father had for so many years – that the two seemed to become one, the similar voices.
According to information on his website, at the Ranny Williams Centre in Kingston, Jamaica at the memorial concert for his father, Kenyatta’s performance with Culture was the highlight in a star studded night and garnered him the rousing support of the hard-to-please Kingston reggae audience.
The reggae artist went on to front Culture in a series of performances in USA and other countries.
Kenyatta is influenced by the elements of dancehall, grounded in the roots tradition and motivated to carry on his father’s work, the musician set to writing – to finish songs that his father had started and create new music of his own.
Jamaican Observer reported last year that Kenyatta during one of his tours landed on one of his father’s unreleased songs from one of the clubs and had to request for it. He was not impressed with its sound and reworked on it.
Today people even in Jamaican are impressed with Kenyatta’s sound. He was actually named after Kenya’s former president Jomo Kenyatta.
It is even reported that Kenyatta’s debut CD prompted one of the longtime Culture fans to proclaim that “Culture is alive.”
And so Kenyatta Hill and Culture continue to share the wisdom of Joseph’s conscious reggae overlaid with Kenyatta’s own lively and youthful musical vision.
Culture was born in the ‘70s golden age of reggae and Culture’s legendary Two Sevens Clash was Reggae Album of the Year in 1977 and is acknowledged today by Rolling Stone Magazine as number 25 of the 50 all time coolest records (the only reggae album to make the list).
Kenyatta has his own albums including Riddim Of Life (Honest Music) which he released in 2014.
And now this year marks 40th anniversary of Culture classic album Two Sevens Clash and a world tour with original members of the group as well as solo performances are in the works now and this includes the performances in Malawi.
“As I said earlier I love it here, I feel welcome especially with the Nyabighi drummers and all I can say is expect the highest from us,” he said.
Kenyatta said his music is growing and called on people to come and be part of the two concerts.
“The good thing about music is that you feel no pain,” he said.
Kenyatta said his father never did anything that was wrong and that all his words were about equal rights.
“This is the message I am continuing and my mother has been there supporting me,” he said.
The artist also said there is a probability that they may collaborate with Black Missionaries which is the host band.
“My message to artists in Malawi is that believe in whatever you are doing, have faith and be strong and with that you will succeed,” he said.
His songs include ‘Afrikan,’ and ‘Jah Is My Friend,’ from Riddim of Life.
Ras Vision said as the Rastafarian community they were excited with the Jamaican team’s presence.
“Feel at home as you are true sons and daughters of Malawi and Africa,” he said.
Lucius said they were very happy that they have managed to bring the Kenyatta Hill and Culture.
“These are not just shows but we are helping in promoting tourism,” he said.
Having already brought into the country other Jamaican artists such as Turbulence and Busy Signal, Lucius said Malawi loves reggae and that this is why they brought in Kenyatta and Culture this time.
“Let’s accept Malawi is a reggae nation, the impact of reggae music is so huge and this why we have brought Kenyatta and Culture. All we are asking is support and if you do that expect another big artist coming up,” he said.
Lucius said they put in extra effort to bring international acts.
“ For now we can say that as Impakt Events we have managed to bring in over 15 international acts. So Blantyre this is a test and we hope you will come in large numbers,” he said.
He heaped praise on reggae artists saying people love them because they perform for a long time and that they do not have difficult conditions,” Lucius said.
It remains to be seen as to whether Kenyatta and Culture will manage to pull the strings and live up to Joseph Hill’s music exploits in the two concerts in the Warm Heart of Africa.
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