Reading Between The Rhymes by Holly Rahman (Kenya)


By now, everybody around Africa who cares to, actually knows that I am an Amarula addict. I just can’t get enough of the South Africa manufactured brew. But I am not here to talk about that, which I just did, apparently. It’s called marketing, a thing that most artists around Africa don’t know about. Unfortunately, I am not here to teach you about it either. I’d rather talk about more interesting topics like how Kanye West is a douche. Ironically, I am listening to his music as I type this, the one they did with D’Banj. That should really mean a lot to fellow artists out there. One, you can be stupid but people still can’t run away from your stuff.


I have a lot of friends who are greatly talented on the M.I.C and when I say ‘talented’, I mean from T to D. Yet they are virtually unknown around Africa simply because, well, they channel their music to the wrong audience. Earlier on, when I was starting my music career, as part of Dr3am Ville of course, we used to just make music in English. That was the group’s policy, until we realized that our music was getting airplay abroad but no one in Kenya actually new about us! As a matter of fact, we were getting invites to play abroad but no single show was forthcoming back home, sad. Let me use Kenya to be an example. For you to get paid, you must make music that is played on the media. And for the media to play your music, then it has to be on demand, by the local people.


Artists make one single mistake of not knowing their target audience. Let nobody ever lie to you that they like being underground, that’s the excuse of those who cannot make it to mainstream. Not all mainstream acts are sellouts, mark you. Nas has been making great music, even collaborating with Darmian Marley, yet he is considered mainstream. Cut the crap and know your act. There is a difference between making music for your cool friends and doing music for the people. I once took my music to a marketing agency and the guy politely told me that they don’t accept such. When I prodded him further, he explained all the nitty gritty of the music business to me. Ever since, I have been studying the business side of showbiz.  After spending quite some time doing my own research on popular artists around Africa for my Around The A articles, I realized that they had one feature in common; authentic.


There is something beautiful about our local languages that make a song stick to mind. A while back, I came across a song by a Zambian artist called Macky 2; “We Don’t Care” where he rapped majorly in a local Zambian dialect. The song I suppose was huge in his country and it was my favorite jam for a long time. I couldn’t care less about understanding what he was rapping about; I was busy bopping to it. The one advantage that we African artists have is, almost all of us know two or more languages. Imagine Lil Wayne or even Jay Z has no option but to use English. Let us play around with our different languages and make beautiful jams.


Music is a universal language; it is about time that you started crafting your skills and channel your creativity to the right audience. Music pays, when you sing to the right people. Read between your rhymes.


Kind regards,
Dr3am Ville
Nairobi, Kenya


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