Promoting raw talent

CoolPRO Entertainment is a reggae music promotion stable established in 2004 to promote local reggae and dancehall music. Through the years it has dedicated its efforts to build careers from scratch by working with raw jewels who have the potential but lack resources and the platform to turn into diamonds. Our Staff Reporter BRIAN ITAI caught up with owner of the music stable Duffy Chikakuda, excerpts:

Chikakuda: It is important for artists to have a manager

Q

: When was CoolPRO established?

A

: The stable was established as far back as 2004. I started it on my own as a DJ using my own equipment. In 2015 I stopped the DJ business and diversified into a record label. I also built a club and entertainment centre in Malosa, Zomba. I did this after noticing that the vibe of reggae music in Malawi is dying slowly and my idea was to revive it.

Q

: Since its establishment, what has the stable managed to achieve?

A

: So far we have helped and worked with artists such as Queen Fyah, Ndindi Mally, Positive Yut, Roy View, Provoice, Don Tarz, Beanca, Akada, Sulu Godwell Thunga among many others. We worked with these artists on what we called the Underrated Project. We have also managed to help some of the artists by giving them the biggest platforms through appearances at Lake of Stars, Sand Music Festival, CoolPRO Reggae Sunsplash as well as the Sound and Light Concert.

Q

: What is CoolPRO Entertainment philosophy?

A

: Our main objective as CoolPRO Entertainment is to promote the raw talents which are unknown in as far as reggae and dancehall music is concerned. Basically we look at special talent that we can work with regardless of factors such as gender and age. We help the artists with studio work and promotion. Our goal is to reach the level of Jamaicans with the genres.

Q

: Why reggae and dancehall music in particular out of all the genres out there?

A

: Reggae music is about immortal themes such as love, freedom, equality, peace, oppression, kindness, humanity, oneness and all that. The music resonates with basically anybody. This is the type of music that can easily ease pain when one listens to it.

Q

: How much potential do you think exists for local reggae and dancehall music?

A

: There is potential only that there is lack of seriousness starting from the artists, managers and promoters. For instance, if an artist is not coming up with strong lyrics and there is no direction in his music, chances that the artist can make it big are very slim. The only challenge that is hindering reggae music to flourish is lack of resources. For an artist to come up with good compositions and promote it, there is need for enough resources and good management to offer strategic direction. That is why it is important for artists to have a manager who can push things around for them. If we can get all these factors right then the future of reggae music is bright.

Q

: Some have argued that reggae music is not our own and therefore no need to invest much effort in it since we cannot do it better than the originators of the genre: What is your view on this?

A

: That is not true. I can give you an example of the Black Missionaries Band. They are a reggae band, but whenever they are having live shows their performances are always well patronised because their music has got drive and substance. The only thing is that reggae music requires seriousness when coming up with both the beat and generation of the lyrical content. You need to give yourself enough time to work on these key points. And with the introduction of music softwares, the taste of reggae has slightly changed that is why most artists do not sound the same when they are on stage with a live band. That is why as a stable we have started working with international producers such as Chris Kelly who is based in South Africa and Sinky Beats from Spain just to make quality consistent.

Q

: Do you believe Malawian reggae music can make it on the international market?

A

: I have no doubt about that. If Lucky Dube made it to the top, then why not us? If Senzo made it, why not us? We just have to make sure that our music has the message that can be loved by many and establish some good connections. Our artists also need to combine Chichewa and English while sticking on originality. So far, our local reggae artists are only hired by fellow Malawians living in diaspora to perform outside the country but we would like to see them perform at platforms such as Summer Jam and Rototom Festival.

Q

: What project are you working on?

A: This year we have introduced a certain project which is meant to promote any artist who has the potential and is willing to go to the top. We have identified a young artist, Lion Paw who is currently in the studio and we will release his two tracks on August 2. We are also working on Ndindi Mally’s album and on this particular project we have lined up a number of collabos with the likes of Lucius Banda, Sally Nyundo, Taurai and Nepman. n

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