As fears of losing identity and cultural values to foreign influences continue to grip the Malawian music industry, vernacular rapper Martse has lessons from his US trip to try out.
Courtesy of US-based Malawian promoter Brandon Mafuleka and his Flakers Entertainment, Martse flew to the US to participate in four shows which started on January 16 in Washington DC. He wraps up his final show on February 13 in South Bend Indiana.
Commenting on his experience so far, the Mwapindulanji star said Malawian musicians stand to make it big with music done in their own language and style.
“Songs that made me come to the US were done in Chichewa. Let that sink in. No hard feelings, but Chichewa is big deal,” said Martse.
One of the major challenges that continue to face the local music industry is an identity crisis. Scores of musicians, especially urban artists, tend to copy foreign music styles.
As a result, they fail to make an impression on the global platform where they face stiff competition from the same rappers they try to imitate.
But Martse said fans in foreign countries such as US always expect unique music.
Martse said: “While my Chichewa songs and style interested Malawians living in the US, the Americans were simply wowed! To me, I see something great in maintaining our local styles.”
Martse’s sentiments were chorused by Chancellor College music lecturer Robert Chanunkha.
“One of the biggest tasks that we have as a country is to create our own identity that will create demand for our music. We should really have something that will be a focus for international audience just like the way other countries like Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa have done,” said Chanunkha.
He tipped budding musicians to capitalise on traditional music and dances to come up with their own styles that will impress the audience.
“You can’t go to America and impress with hip hop unless you are really good to outshine Jay Z and others. But if you can blend that hip hop with manganje or chitelela, I bet that you can shine,” said Chanunkha.