Musicians Joseph Nkasa and Gibo Pearson have built their respective niches on playing typical indigenous Malawian sounds.
During his prime, Nkasa broke all records while riding on his traditional centric sound which originates from the country’s Lhomwe and Yao speaking districts. On the other hand, the recent entrant Gibo Pearson has seen his star rise ever since he came on the scene courtesy of his Phalombe Music creation.
Recently, the two artists announced they were working on a song which was released on Sunday evening. The expectation of most of their fans was that the two would utilise their established niches, but to the surprise of many, their new song Go Konko has been done in South Africa’s Amapiano genre.
Meanwhile, the song has received mixed reactions with some schools of thought touting the artists’ decision as bold and progressive while others have faulted the artists for ditching their DNA just to remain relevant on the market.
Music enthusiast Emmanuel Chikuse posted on Facebook: “Gibo and Joseph Nkasa, what in the name of Zeze is this? Please no, Gibo, you can’t do this to the great Nkasa. That is like Nas doing mumble rap.” He closed his post with a laughing emoji.
Actor-cum-filmmaker Isaac Misoya, however, threw his weight behind the composition, saying adapting and evolving is important considering that music is not just entertainment, but also a business.
He said: “Artists who rely on music as their livelihood should strive to be more creative and keep up with the times to satisfy their audience. However, modifying traditional music requires significant effort and investment.
“Only a few individuals in Malawi possess the ability to transform our traditional music into something that resonates with the current generation.”
But speaking in separate interviews yesterday, both Gibo Pearson and Nkasa assured their fans not to lose sleep over the issue as the new song does not mean they have ditched their known genres.
Nkasa said as an artist, it is not proper to draw boundaries on what one can do or not.
“Amapiano music is a generational thing and if we are to look at numbers that is where the biggest percentage is. We had to reach out to this section right where they are. But Nkasa will always do local music. You can be assured,” he said.
On his part, Gibo Pearson, who owns of the song, said going by the feedback that they have received since the release of the song, it is clear that people are satisfied with what they have done.
He said: “The music Nkasa and I do is identical in many fronts. The themes we touch on and the traditional style are almost similar. In this particular project, we wanted to come up with something unique, away from what people have always known us for.”
University of Malawi associate professor of media communication and cultural studies Anthony Gunde said it would be important for the two artists not to lose the identity that has propelled them into the limelight.
“Gibo has his unique genre just like Nkasa. I think they have been enticed by the quick buck syndrome. Or maybe it is one way of targeting the youthful urban night club revellers. Nevertheless, I would expect the two to stick to their identity,” he said.