In an interview, singer Ken Miziki told us of how his friend Daudi Lumu tried to steal his song.
Ken, who is better known for his hit Ekintambuza Empola, released that song in late 2008. However, until mid-2009, Ekintambuza was attributed to Lumu whom Ken offered a small verse in a technical move to make the song more appealing.
Then little-known Ken was advised to partner with a trending artiste to push his music forward. While Lumu was rocking national airwaves with his Afaayo hit, Ken was only known in his hometown Jinja for playing drums and singing unrecorded songs, including Ekintambuza.
"After recording the video, I went back to Jinja," chubby Ken said, recalling he started hearing rumours about an artiste performing the popular song in Kampala. But he did not pay attention since he trusted Lumu.
Lumu's luck ran out when he took the song to Power FM, where one of Ken's friends worked.
"I was so shocked. He had already staged so many shows and made a lot of money. It became hard for me to reclaim it since people didn't know me," said the artiste who writes and records his own music.
Ken, who is cagey about his age, said he has since buried the hatchet with Lumu and plans to shoot a fresh video for the groovy hit since tactical Lumu made sure he dominated the original version.
Born Keneth Atuhura, Ken was raised in a humble extended family. He hustled to pay school fees till he graduated with a diploma in Media Studies at the International Institute of Business and Media Studies (IIBMS). Now he also works as an audio manager at SMS One Media, and hopes to return to school for a degree in International Relations.
Owing to his poor surroundings, Ken turned into an angry youngster who always fought at school, earning himself numerous expulsions. But he later got saved in S.1.
"Pastor [Robert] Kayanja healed my parents during a visit at his Jinja Miracle Centre. They later converted me." He has since stuck with Miracle Centre Church.
Cutting his teeth
Despite his family's financial concerns, Ken's talent for music showed at a very tender age. While at Jinja SS in S.3, he made a record at the national inter-secondary school MDD finals held at the National Theatre in Kampala by playing eight drums simultaneously, which made him famous in Jinja. Using substandard studio equipment at school, he honed his production skills and initially produced Ekintambuza, which he performed for pals and in churches. Producer Paddyman later fine-tuned the hit at his city-based Dream Studios.
Because of his troubles with Lumu, Ken didn't immediately warm up to crowds despite Ekintambuza's success, which was nominated at the 2011 Kenyan Groove Gospel Award. His second album, Fasi Fasi, also got a lukewarm audience.
"I didn't make a video for the title song. It is hard nowadays to break through without a video," mused the reclusive singer famed for scrutinizing his music before release.
In order to appeal to young audiences, Ken has had to rebrand- a revolution that started with Fasi Fasi. He has since fused his slow-band-afrobeat style with the contemporary genres, RnB and dancehall. And the move is fast elevating him to the top of gospel charts-- he is promising to be a major force this year. Already, his Tonjagala hit is doing rounds on airwaves and critics say it has the potential to outdo Ekintambuza.
The singer, who now sports a well-groomed afro and runs a string of private businesses, said he hopes to marry his girlfriend by this year's end. He also said he would be "very rich by end of next year."