4 January 2018

Ugandan Music a No-Show in 2017

Last year has arguably gone down as a disappointment as far as local music is concerned.

Not that artistes did not release music; they stayed in their comfort zone and some left the scene altogether. The year started on a promising note, considering that politics was out of the way.

Politics had been blamed for the 'death' of Juliana Kanyomozi, Iryn Namubiru, Haruna Mubiru and Rema Namakula's careers in 2016, but truth is 2017 did not help things that much.

While Rema found her footing again with Tikula, her female contemporaries with whom they were boycotted had nothing to show for the last 12 months; for instance, Juliana dropped two songs I'm Still Here and Right Here. Much as the latter got the country talking, it was for the wrong reasons as the video was heavily criticized.

Namubiru tried to pick herself up with a solo concert at the end of 2016, but failed to follow up with equally good music in 2017. Her song with Kenneth Mugabi, Olugendo, was commendable but did not top any charts.

The year was not any better for Haruna Mubiru, Pallaso, Radio and Weasel and Jose Chameleone, among others, despite some of them even releasing new music; in fact, the saving grace of mainstream music was new artistes such as Ykee Benda, Fik Fameika, Vinka, Latinum, B2C and Voltage Music alias Kent and Flosso, among others.

In songs including Superman, Malaika, Overdose, Baabo and Kutama, the new school ran the show with a little help from Bebe Cool, Sheebah Karungi and David Lutalo.

While Chameleone, Bobi Wine and Mesach Ssemakula released music, it was nothing close to their past works. But even as Ykee Benda and friends churned out music, 2017 still failed to produce a chart-breaking album like Irene Ntale's Sembera (2016), or Bebe Cool's Go Mama (2015).

Worse still, the 12 months failed to produce a club anthem to the level of King Saha's Muliranwa, Radio and Weasel's Juicy, or Sheebah's Nkwatako in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Other artistes that tried to establish themselves in 2017 include Geosteady, Lydia Jazmine, Roden Y (Kabako), Spice Diana and Zanie Brown.

On the gospel music front, again old brooms including Exodus, Judith Babirye and Ps Wilson Bugembe had a quiet year, while new brooms led by Zabuli took the genre to new levels experimenting successfully with dancehall, Lugaflo and baxi-ragga fusions.

The year of Bobi Wine

Music had such little offering last year that the industry highlight was not a hit song, but a musician-turned-politician.

Bobi Wine was not the first artiste to get into parliament, but he was one of the few that joined politics when their star was still shining.

Being MP for Kyadondo East may have crippled his music career in a way, but no doubt, 2017 was Robert Kyagulanyi's year. Because there was little music coming from the 'big' artistes, the industry looked elsewhere for entertainment with Nigerians benefitting more.

Nigerian artistes Wizkid, Mr Eazi, Tekno Miles, Skales, Ice Prince and Timaya jetted into town for shows. This saw the resurrection of the Save Ugandan Music movement geared towards getting local clubs and media to give local music priority.

This movement started in 2014 and had tempered following great music in the subsequent years; last year the complaints and blame games surrounding the popularity of Nigerian music resurrected.

The movement started by Chameleone was joined by Eddy Kenzo, Juliana, Iryn Namubiru, Radio and Weasel and Dr Hilderman, among others.

Looking ahead, fans can only hope the artistes snap out of the 2017 daze and give them a reason to once again ditch Nigerian music for local hits.

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