The Sunday Mail
THERE is seismic activity in the Zimbabwean music industry!
And most artistes and their ill-equipped handlers cannot feel or see it.
Down the road, they will not even know what hit them. For instance, how many music fans know a single song by the group Flying Bantu?
Okay, maybe Flying Bantu, like Mokoomba, spend too much time raising the Zimbabwean flag high around the world for anyone to notice.
How about Nyasha David, the guy that recently released a scorcher, “Advocate of Love”?
The point is bands and singers like Nyasha David, Mokoomba, Flying Banyu, Hope Masike and Janet Manyowa, among others, do well not just because of their talent, but also because of the skills in their employ — their management teams.
When news hit me that King 98, who recently finished putting together visuals for a song he did with Nigeria’s Zlatan, had assembled a world class team of managers, I quickly understood why some artistes make it while others do not.
Take Roki, for instance, where would he be with a manager half as good and as connected as Mokoomba’s Marcus Gora? A clueless manager, who does not read or consult and has never been anywhere beyond their village boundary or ghetto, will certainly put you on a road to nowhere.
If you are an artiste and your manager only knows mugomba (City Sports Centre), they will not even think about letting you play at Unplugged or launch your album at Belgravia Sports Club. The best they will do for the artiste is to take them to Harare Gardens — a place they accidentally went to during Hifa some donkey years ago after they had received a complimentary ticket.
But Leonard Mapfumo, who knows the ins and outs of the industry, will get Nyasha David gigs every week while some talented artiste with a rich catalogue is sitting at home waiting for manna from heaven. Mapfumo will even get slots at festivals in the region and beyond and live a comfortable life while others cry foul.
For King 98 to rope in Colin Gayle — a renowned marketing strategist and founder of the African Creative Agency — it says a lot about the intentions of this 21-year-old.
For those not in the know, Gayle is a Jamaican who worked in the United States of America for years but is now based in South Africa.
He has represented, successfully, the interests of Warner Bros, G-Unit Records, African Fashion International, Essence (Time Inc.) and Motsepe Foundation, to name just a few.
Among other things, he facilitated the collaboration between NE-YO and Coke Studio Africa. He also helped the Essence executive team through defining, developing and validating the opportunity to extend the Essence Music Festival to Africa. Gayle has worked on the Comedy Festival in Nigeria, pairing US comedian DeRay Davis and Nigeria’s Basketmouth for eight sold-out shows across Nigeria.
I point out Gayle’s successes to prove that a manager should not be a yes man or just a booking agent — it should be someone who knows their stuff.
We have all seen how some “manager-less” footballers’ careers crushed and burned before they even crossed the Limpopo River, all because they were too short-sighted.
While Gayle concentrate on the strategies of marketing King 98 — Ayanda Ngcobo, a South African, with an intricate understanding of his market — will handle all of the “Wacko” hit-maker’s dealings in South Africa.
Sam Frank will do the same in Nigeria, where King 98 has now done two collaborations — one with Davido who has just released a collabo with American Chris Brown and another with Zlatan, the most happening young artiste in Nigeria at the moment.
DJ Simms, who has always been by King 98’s side, continues to hold the reins — in case some “stupid” ideas associated with 21-year-olds creep into the young man’s head. He is the road manager. DJ Simms knows how to handle hot heads — he worked with MC Smylie. If you know, you know!
However, it is the inclusion of DJ Dee Nosh that just blows the mind away. He completes this team of Galacticos.
Dee Nosh, who is the other half of 2 Kings Entertainment and also runs his own company, DTL Records, among a plethora of other investments, is a survivor and a winner. He is definitely not looking for some chump change, he has put his name on the line. He knows what he is doing and has seen the potential.
“King 98 has a passion for music, he is an artiste not scared to go international. I have promoted music locally and I have seen a lot. Most artistes are afraid of real international stardom. They are content with the little they have. But this is someone ready and hungry.
“I don’t have a magic wand, but this is the next level for me and I’m willing to take the chance with this next superstar. This gig has come at the right time,” said Dee Nosh.
He added: “At his age, it’s a good time to grow and focus on local and international music. He raps in English and really, believe me I have witnessed this, he has the youths’ attention and support. And looking at the new digital world – he is definitely on the right track.”
Gone are the days when mere errand boys were disguised as managers, the days when one’s knowledge of mbanje peddlers and prostitutes was enough to get them a seat in a musician’s car and eventually answer the phone claiming to be the star’s manager.
Music is no kiddy game, it is serious business. As Mama Mahwindo is wont to say, “Arts is business”.
King 98 tour dates
Cape Town September 20; Durban September 28; Johannesburg October 4; Vaal October 12; Perth & Melbourne (Australia) September 13 and 14 respectively; Pretoria October 18 and Harare December 21.