Third Eye’s lasting legacy
Mandela Mwanza has earned the trust of the corporate world. Third Eye has perfected his act since the first day he rhymed his first. If you put together Mandela (the activist) and Third Eye (the lyricist), what you have is an influential voice.
Remove the beat, read the verses and you will be enjoying some poetry. If not his poetry, what you read in his music are ideas of how the youths can move forward and be part of the change Malawi has desired for so long.
What differentiates Third Eye from ordinary artists, he says, is that he does not dwell on ordinary things.
“I use my music to touch on topics and emotions other artists don’t. I bring a little more extra to the ordinary,” he says.
He hopes that someday history would describe him as legendary.
“I would describe Third Eye as revolutionary, visionary, unprecedented, empowering and motivational,” he says.
While Third Eye is a leader of his generation, the doubters would say Mandela is wasting his time and potential doing music.
“While a lot of people love Third Eye for his music, very few actually know Mandela. Where Mandela fails, Third Eye succeeds. Third Eye’s place is on stage and Mandela’s is behind the curtains. It is behind those curtains that ideas are generated,” he says.
How special is the name Third Eye?
“I needed to find a name that described me best and at the same time be a name that everyone would relate to. Most of my life is spent looking past the illusions that life presents and trying to marry the abstract with my empirical reality and my most efficient tool in this process is my mind’s eye, in this case my third eye.
“Also every human being has a pineal gland behind the third ventricle of their brain which is also referred to as their third eye. So my third eye is what I have in common with mankind,” he says.
The beginning of his journey
Third Eye nurtured his talent as he grew up in Kenya, performing at numerous talent search competitions. The first steps he made earned him recognition and admiration from music fans and peers.
“I remember participating in a six-month long BBC sponsored talent search and I was fifth out of 600 contestants,” he says.
When he was 20, Third Eye released his first mix-tape The Ten Plagues of Moses towards the end of 2005. He released his second mix-tape The Final Call in 2006 collaborating with renowned artists from Kenya.
“I was later a member of the organisational team that the British Council in Kenya recruited to create a platform for artists. I worked with youth activist Buddha Blaze and radio presenter Mwafrika and helped in the foundation of a British Council youth-based activity called WaPi,” he says.
In 2006, Third Eye returned to Malawi and released two hip-hop albums Imagine Being Jesus and Not Knowing It and Taking Kandy From a Blind Baby in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
“I was then hired by British Council to co-facilitate, promote and host the three inaugural episodes of WaPi which proved to be quite a success,” he says.
In 2008, he was one of the four local artists featured in Malawi’s first hip-hop documentary and photo exhibition which were sponsored and facilitated by Goethe Institut.
He suffered a broken leg in 2010 while playing football. The combination of two childhood loves football and hip-hop is evident in the soccer-inspired album The Hat-trick in 2010. The album applied soccer to the principles of life.
“The irony of me breaking my leg in two places while playing soccer in July 2010 meant that I had begun my recovery process with the release of my fourth offering Broken Verses in December 2010,” he says.
Third Eye’s music and inspiration
Despite releasing two mix-tapes in Nairobi in 2005 and 2006, Third Eye says his music journey started with Imagine Being Jesus And Not Knowing It in 2007.
“This album was created in a time of turmoil. Turmoil caused by mental events that would drive me insane unless I expressed them through my music. My music at that time was my only therapy.
“Each thought expressed was about me, by me and from me to the people out in the world who were experiencing similar turmoil at the time,” he says.
His music goes from a personal level in the song ‘A Good Day To Die’ to ‘Good Mourning’ a song that he attempts to bring back his younger brother Stevie to life.
The mental turmoil birthed Third Eye’s dissatisfaction with modern day politics and religion that resulted in the songs ‘Leftovers’ and ‘Burning Bush.’
His sophomore album, Taking Kandy from a Blind Baby, released in 2009 marked the calming of his personal storm which stemmed from the acceptance of his vocation by his mother, family and close friends.
“It also marked the genesis of my artistic balance as Dominant One guided me on marrying my personal music desires with the realities of the musical industry especially in Malawi. The only criticism I mostly received for my first album was that I could never manage to match or better it and facing up to this challenge forms the basis of Taking Kandy From A Blind Baby,” he says.
The album concept is about reversing the cycle of colonialism set in motion when they gave candy to Africa, at the time a blind baby who hadn’t started teething yet. This process of reversal is highlighted by songs such as ‘One Good Reason’ and ‘Nuggets.’
“This album also contributed the song ‘Deep’ to hip-hop history. Kingdom’s pride is one of my most complex metaphors ever as it uses other animals to describe human nature,” he says.
The other songs in the album are ‘This Dance’ which is an expression of his idea of a woman and the words personify his love for his woman, his mother and ‘Mama Africa’ itself.
In Broken Verses, Third Eye takes the world on unprecedented musical journey using newfound voice of experience through songs such as ‘My Story.’ His take on friends is presented on ‘Real Friends. ‘His experience of the unending conflict between the artist and the person revealed on the Daredevils produced ‘Behind The Curtains’ and his feelings on hip-hop shared in the song ‘Louder.’
“My recovery would not have been complete if Broken Verses did not give insight into the love I have for a ‘mystery woman’ my mind keeps warning me about on the song ‘Break Ups’,” he says.
First Vernacular album
In 2011, Third Eye realised the influence his music had on the youth. This resulted into first vernacular album Kumidima. The album, produced by Lemekezani Phiri, featured Jay Jay Munthali on bass guitar, Ernest Ikwanga on lead guitar and Mwayi Chitidzi on drums.
“This album witnessed the return of turmoil to my mind, be it more a reflection of political unrest and financial instability in comparison to the personal nature that was responsible for my first album,” he says.
The song ‘Dzuka’ continues where ‘Good Mourning’ from his first album left off as five years passed without Stevie waking up. The song ‘Misonzi’ is the musical epitome of being fed up and speaks for Malawians that have had enough of a low level of economic welfare, political irrelevance and the effects of neo-colonialism. Kumidima moves into a more hopeful frame of mind with the song ‘Mose Wa Mawa’ which celebrates children as the source of future hope and gives a glimpse into the average situation of Malawian youth in areas and how their life stories usually end up. The other songs in Kumidima are ‘Tipemphere; and ‘M’mene Zilili.’
Mandela the activist
Third Eye’s activism compelled him to be more professional and this led to the formation of Soul Rebel Entertainment. The board members are Dr Collins Magalasi, Pat Mhone and Regina Mwanza.
“Soul Rebel is basically a bridge between the corporate world and the youth,” he says.
His activism intensified when he was selected as Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) fellow and met former US president Barrack Obama.
“I had the opportunity to meet the leader who is respected world-wide for his admirable leadership. For a young leader I have been, I learnt a lot from this interaction and I would like to do more for the youth in Malawi,” said Third Eye whose album launch in 2017 renewed the role of the youth in Malawi in development.
The Highly Underrated album launch centred on the role of the youth in sustainable development goals. He brought on stage about 73 children on stage with everyone playing a role.
Third Eye became the first Malawian artist to host a show at Bingu International Stadium in 2017.
“It was a success because of the number of artists who performed, the quality of the performance was quite a huge success,” he says.
Third Eye, who is set to release a new album in May this year, says it is quite amazing that a lot of companies have trust in the youth.
“I received huge corporate support last year and I am glad that I am the voice that people who make decisions can listen to,” he says.
Some of the companies that have supported Third Eye are Old Mutual, TNM and Mark Construction. He is yet to finalise a deal with Airtel Malawi.
In 2017, Third Eye launched Rediyo App for music distribution and video streaming.
“I have intentions to expand to Kenya and Nigeria. I believe in my project and I believe in the youth of Malawi, I want to influence a lot of people to believe in themselves,” Third Eye says.
If Mandela’s story will not be told, Third Eye’s music will continue speaking on behalf of Mandela but the dream that Mandela has is to see the youth shaping Malawi’s future.
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