Sonically changing the rules

Behind the beats with Blenge Mo Fire

10 May 2019 | Art and Entertainment

One Blood, The Wire, Ongoro Nomundu, Black Masters, Mushe, Blossom - how is that for a producer's catalogue? Blenge Mo Fire, real name Mbapewa Mbaundamuje Ndjavera, epitomises the highest level of music production.

With a long list of musical credits to his name, Mo Fire's musical contribution is quite the spectacle to look at and it is purely the music that has given him the attention and nothing else. In an interview with tjil, the producer shared that he started doing music when he was 11. “My aunt who used to live in the States bought me a mini keyboard when I was 11. It was very small but that is where I learned how to play keyboard and I have not looked back since,” he shared.

He describes his instrumentals as tradition and that is what makes them stand out. “If you listen to songs I have produced for One Blood for instance, you will notice that it is not entirely Oviritie, pop or disco. It has those influences but it is still different. We are trying to create a new genre, one song at a time,” said Blenge Mo Fire.

He released his debut album last year titled Don't Hustle a Hustler. The album has songs with features from reigning Male Artist of the Year Kalux, Ethnix, One Blood and more. “The genre I am trying to create is called Namibian music and my album is a taste of that,” he shared.

Blenge Mo Fire told tjil that he is happy with how his debut album is being received and hopes to follow it with another project soon. His goal is to expand his reach beyond the Ovahahero community. “My music and the work I have done with other artists is quite popular among the Ovaherero but I want to expand my reach. I performed in Botswana last week and I was impressed to find out how my music is doing that side,” he said.

He added that his decision to put out an album was inspired by the lack of recognition music producers get for their work. He mentioned that over the years producers have sort of only remained in the background, but there is this new found energy that finds producers becoming artists themselves. Asked what have been some of the challenges he has had to conquer to get where he is today, and how he has envisioned himself fitting into the game; the producer shared that he fails to understand music consumers in Namibia. “I was supposed to blow up a long time ago. There are songs I made in the past that I thought were going to get me recognition but those songs did not become hits; but the songs we sort of just freestyled are the ones that go on to become hits. It's a weird dynamic,” he said.

Another hurdle he pointed out was the lack of collaborations among artists. Blenge Mo Fire said there are certain artists who are individualistic and do not take a collective approach when making music. “These are some of the artists I believe can create timeless music with me and other producers, but we do not get to do so because we don't collaborate enough.”

He called on music fans to stop mocking artists when they dream big, stating that it delays progress and kills their confidence.

“I want to take it far. I want to win a Grammy. As Namibians we need to start having confidence in our music and be fearless to dream big because our music is good. If we stay true to our sound and not put out what is already out there, we will stand out and we will be noticed. We just need the support of our own people,” he added.

MICHAEL KAYUNDE