Good people, Lawi was dynamite—he ‘was’ before the newest track from his forthcoming album, Sunset in the Sky.
The real sunset in the horizon could be the fading sparkle that made many believe everything the musician touches turns into gold
Going is the excitement that welcomed his self-styled hit album, featuring Amaona Kuchedwa, four years ago.
Then, some elders, yapping about ‘good ole days’, were convinced that the next big thing was already here.
Of course, Lawi showed he knows music like the back of his palm, distinguishing himself from his peers who rub their noses with the back of their palms.
But he has been soaring since he dropped the single Satana Luma almost 10 years ago.
Lawi, the album, gazumped all that—a massive upgrade of the Lawi mostly loved by radio disc jockeys.
Amaona Kuchedwa is a song the DJs behind the microphone of your nearest radio station clichéd due to a familiar penchant for vernacular lyrics or sheer laziness to explore more tracks.
A better Lawi sparkled like a star in dark on the songs least replayed on air.
It happened to celebrated reggae star Evison Matafale, whom some radio DJs squashed to Watsetseleka, although Kuyimba 1 actually has more thoughtful, radical and exquisitely arranged songs hidden from the nation.
Lawi may have been numbed by replays from radio DJs obsession with Amaona Kuchedwa at the expense of Lilongwe, Whistling Song and other wonders.
Artists and listeners must demand the best and accountability for the choices radio stations make.
By playing to the gallery, when some radio stations no longer insist on playing quality music, Lawi’s comeback track, Zonenena Kuchuluka has left tongues wagging about how could he be regressing instead of thinking bigger and better.
Do not judge a book by its cover. It may be harsh to rate Lawi by one track from an album likely to contain more tracks, but the promotional track bears unmistakable resemblance to Amaona Kuchedwa.
At least, it attracts mentions to take it an extra mile.
Except it does not appear that Lawi is going forward.
The artist may be trying too hard to impress using the methods that stunned three years.
‘Recycle and re-use’ is the slogan of waste managers, not artists.
Lawi did not have to cliché familiar borrowings from legendary guitarist Allan Namoko. Alluding to distinguished oldies is supposed to be a rare trick of spicing newer creative works and conferring status on inimitable greats.
But what is really mortifying is that Zonena Kuchuluka pans out like a recycled Amaona Kuchedwa—except the lyrics and Mbenjere-like drums are new.
This is why no serious musician should take easy-to-please DJs as a yardstick. Only skilled choosers deserve an ear.
The new release is shockingly the stuff only unskilled DJs will replay.
It falls below the bar raised by the Lawi who dazzled diverse audiences, including corporate captains and expatriates who happily booked him to entertain their guests as did David when King Saul needed music most.
Surely, such an artist cannot be a one-hit wonder or a one-trick artist.
His story did not end where we parted four years ago.
Those of us who believe in artists’ ability to surprise think music critics had better sheathed their swords because there may be better numbers on the way.
This is not patience. They call it ‘the benefit of doubt’.
It is good, but not good enough for creative minds that cannot bear their offerings being taken with a pinch of salt like raw mangoes.
This is why Lawi must demonstrate that he is maturing if not ripe for a tougher challenge. n