It does not need debate to assess the success story of urban music in the country. Commentators predict that music has a promising future in the country such that what is on the market is just a slice of a loaf.
However, there is another big question to be answered both by artists and music experts. Why is it that despite having quite a number of urban songs released by local artists, the hits are not part of the playlists at home, bars and other public places?
A recent spot check at several drinking joints in Blantyre and Lilongwe exposed that Malawi’s urban music does not constitute the largest number of songs played by disc Jockeys (DJs). A visit to popular drinking joints Blue Elephant, Culture Club and Chez Ntemba showed that it was South African, Zambian and other foreign music that enjoyed massive play time.
DJs themselves admitted the trend and blamed it all on the quality of urban music produced by Malawian artists.
That’s why the urban music party idea was hatched, to promote local urban music at house parties and other gatherings.
In an interview last Wednesday, Mr.265 Malick of 101 who is popularly known as Deejay Malick, said the quality of music performed by most Malawian urban music does not suit busy public places.
“It is true that we play most foreign music like the Zambian, South African and even Mozambique and Botswana. The reason is that what Malawian artists produce is not danceable and we cannot concentrate on that music in drinking joints where most people want to dance,” he said.
“Most of the urban music is suitable for home or listening while driving,” said Malick who is also chief executive officer for Creative Entertainment.
Another popular DJ, Scarpper, concurs with Malick that urban musicians are missing the point.
“If you go in clubs you should not expect to hear more of Malawian urban music. The music is about swag, money, cars, girls and also sorts of pompous words and you even wonder if instrumentation has room in the production—talking throughout. Message and instrumentation in music controls listenership and our playlists are controlled by this,” he said.
He adds that the main reason why foreign music dominates their playlists is because the songs are danceable and have coherence of keeping a listener in a dancing mood.
MBC Radio DJ Mike Chilimampunga, popularly Mike C, says drinking joints are the test point for each successful song.
“Urban music has become popular in the country, but its quality does not surpass that of Zambian and South African music. In clubs it is only the hot songs that are played and this is the reason Malawi’s urban representation is poor,” he said.