Make us listen to your music

10 May 2019 | Columns

A lot of musicians enjoy being classified or categorised into upcoming, established, mainstream or underground artists, while others just say they are artists and make good music.

My point is it does not matter which category you choose to align yourself with, it is necessary to be creative and entertain. You can be informative and motivate, but that should not stop you from being creative.

We have a lot of artists – old- and new-school - who ignore many things when performing live or recording, which should be part of creative process, namely: the tone of the song. I have to believe you and see that you know and believe what you are talking about. A lot of artists, especially rappers, excel in toning the song if they express anger. However, you can be angry without shouting and cursing and as a listener I will still hear the anger. Every feeling or emotion has its own tone - happy, desperate, angry, concerned, worried and so on, which can be in sync with the beat.

Secondly, the rhythm with which you decide to flow with may change from time to time, depending on the rhyme scheme you use. Most artists master the rhyme part, forgetting they have to choose the perfect rhythm and the rhyme should be in sync with the beat or instrumentals played. You may not rhyme but rhythm is essential.

Thirdly, beat selection. Whether you are making an album, EP, mixtape or just a single - beat selection is important. You should know when an instrumental will overpower or suppress what you want to say. Fourth, with vocals there are two things I can say about them: projection and lyrical content. With projection it is either you are in studio, or performing live. I had a chat with Ann Singer last week who is a good live performer. She emphasised that you should look how you project certain words or phrases to emphasise something. With lyrical content one should know what you are talking about. I have written loads of album reviews and I have noticed that there are few artists who stick to the concept, getting carried away with punch lines, metaphors and similes. Know what you are talking about and stick to it, creatively though. Lastly when you are in front of a crowd delivering your artistic material, please perform and not just recite lyrics from your songs or album and present them. This column was inspired by the conversations I had with radio compilers when I was doing research on how to get your song played on radio - which is another insightful piece you should look forward to in this edition.

Among those conversations, another interesting discussion that came up was how the media gets a lot of backlash from upcoming artists for apparently always covering the same artists. We are often reminded of how they want to blow up so badly and how they are definitely better than a lot of the artists we consider top musicians in the country. Maybe that is true; maybe you are better than the most celebrated artists and I honestly feel your pain. For real though, it is rough out here.

Although it may appear as though the new celebrated herd of artists found overnight success and have not moved from their positions since then, I will tell you as someone who has been documenting the culture for quite some time now, that's not the case. A lot of these artists' stories go back years before their success and are no different from yours. Phred Got1 has been independent ever since I have known him; he probably makes his own beats and scrambles to shoot his own music videos. Vikta Juiceboy has been postponing giving us visuals to his breakout hit Meriam Kaxuxwena because he wants to have a proper budget for the video and the model the song is named after is always on the go. I could go on and on. The point is, this music thing is not easy and no one can say whether you will make it or not, but I can say that it's the journey that separates the casual artists from the ones who deserve to be here.

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