By Mtandazo Dube recently in LUSAKA, ZAMBIA
According to a Mozambican journalist only identified as Nhampossa, no party in his country is worth talking about if DJs do not play the late John Chibudura’s classics — be it in Beira, Manica or the capital Maputo.
Recently, while in Kasane, Botswana, party-goers revealed to this publication that Winky D and Jah Prayzah would easily make music lovers part with as much as 300 Pula to watch one of them perform.
Alick Macheso only just discovered his star power in the South African province of Limpopo where they cannot have enough of him each time he performs.
Kenyans and Tanzanians have been calling for Jah Prayzah to grace them with a show as his stock continues to rise on the African continent while Ammara Brown, who has shifted base to South Africa has recently discovered that her services are in demand in the region.
When this writer arrived in Lusaka last weekend for the Apollo Arena festival where Nasty C, Ammara Brown and King 98 were part of a star-studded line-up – a number of people wanted to know when Selmor Mtukudzi would be paying them a visit for a performance.
There are countless examples of how local music is appreciated on the African continent and beyond, the same way songs from other countries like Nigeria, DRC and Jamaica make inroads in Zimbabwe. However, some local artistes spend a lifetime without discovering this while lucky ones like the late Oliver Mtukudzi make the most of it.
Jonah Moyo found his enclave in Thohoyandou, South Africa and so did the late greats Tedious Matsito and System Tazvida in Mozambique.
Hip-hop singer King 98, a new kid on the block, may have stumbled onto this largely unexplored gold mine — if his 20 million-plus reach with “Bad Vibes” is anything to go by, not to mention how well his performance was received in Zambia.
While Ammara Brown was easily the one to look out for — with all her hit songs and previous appearances in Zambia — it was King 98 who became the talking point. Not that the delectable Ammara did not thrill, far from it, she had them drooling and eating from the palm of her hand.
Still, nothing quite prepared this writer for the love that South Africa-based Zimbabwean artiste, King 98, whose debut album “Francesca”, is fresh out of the oven, was lavished with in the Zambian capital.
If the 21-year-old University of Pretoria music and arts student thought he was playing games and biding his time until he finds something better to do in life – he got a rude awakening.
First, it was the journalists — he was swarmed by the media — from Power FM Zambia, the biggest youth radio station in that country, to Power TV as well as Diamond TV.
Then came the big names in Zambian music, the likes of hit-music maker Roberto, DJ Cosmo, and many fast rising talents on the African hip-hop scene. King 98 must have felt a bit nervous to attract such attention and be on such a grand stage where seasoned Ammara and mega-star Nasty C were set to appear. But again, with the support of one of the best keyboardists in Africa, Alie Keys, who plays for Cassper Nyovest, something must have assured him he was safe.
On the decks was DJ Silence Dosh, a mix-master who has left audiences at festivals in South Africa, the United Kingdom and locally in awe after unbelievably high-energy sets. Of note in the combination of DJ Dosh and King 98 is their ability to fuse, seamlessly, new age trap hip-hop with Afro-pop — something that had other DJs and performing artistes bewildered.
King 98 was set aback upon realisation that his audience, which was predominantly Zambian, knew his lyrics as they sang along to music on his debut offering released on May 1.
His duet with ExQ, a departure from hard-core hip-hop to an Afro-pop feel, had Zambians in wonderland.
If he had been unsure up to that moment about his performance — his confidence must have surely shot up. “Go”, his other track on the debut album also sent the crowd into delirium, as the young man’s two dancers came to the party on that track and gave the crowds more than they had bargained for.
“We are just so thankful to the Almighty. My music is playing on Channel O and Trace. The penetration here in Zambia is unbelievable as we have just witnessed and now we look ahead to our next challenge,” said King 98 soon after his pulsating performance in Lusaka.
He added: “Lusaka will also be a first for Nasty C but we both have a collaboration with Laylizzy, one of that country’s biggest artistes. It looks promising. These are new markets opening up.”
No wonder Davido has compared King 98’s journey in music to his own, there are many similarities.
The Nigerian has also pledged to personally handhold him while Nasty C, one of the brightest prospects from the continent, has a video featuring the young Zimbabwean dropping any time from now.
After the Mozambique gig, King 98 will be off to Nigeria where he has performances lined up and is also set to record a song and shoot a video with Zlatan, one of the fastest rising stars in that country.
Could this be the future king of hip-hop? One wonders. The Sunday Mail