Know the ledge
The untimely death of Moise Sekibogo AKA Mowzey Radio has hit us so hard. We celebrated his life with 6 hours of continuous music, each song better than the next. The Rapper Rakim said Knowledge is knowing the ledge, life is short and delicate, we walk a fine line on a ledge of life and death. Many fall in that pit. It makes you wonder if artists are doomed to die young, if the same forces that make them great make them fall. Uganda doesn’t have a music industry, it has a party scene, the ethos is chakalate, paka late, pakalast. Radio and Weasal were born out of this hedonistic party scene, the party started and never stopped for 11 years, issues like management, royalties, contracts, percentages and the nitty-gritty was left to another day. People will tell you it was an accident but it was clearly murder, they created a drunken brawl to cover that but it was planned from the minute he was invited. Their former manager had threatened Radio’s life several times, they were embroiled in legal cases as to where their money went. No one in Uganda expects the killers to be brought to justice, these are rich men who can pay bribes.
The perfect formula
Radio and Weasal perfected the formula for pop music, their music travelled well because it was always simple, melodic and anthemic. With roots in Luganda Kidandali and gospel, but fused with Ragga, Lingala, South African and rhythms in the language of the streets. It was happy, feel-good music, always upbeat and positive. It was the soundtrack to my life for the last eleven, it was everywhere, blaring from radios, cars, clubs and pubs. They arrived at a perfect time when the internet was penetrating our conscious and download speeds where fast enough to listen and watch songs. Their first show was here at an old mansion-style hotel called Royal Villas, I had no idea who they were but when I heard 3 of their songs I realized they were stars in the making. Their output was prolific, some 138 hits plus features, means you can play 7 hours nonstop. They never did albums, just hit after hit after hit. They could never stop to plan and sort out their lives. They went from tour to tour with a ceaseless energy, but when you look at their catalogue they should be millionaires, their potential was fulfilled musically but not fulfilled. They still remained in the Kampala Chakalating matrix, a little bubble onto itself, and they never broke out of it and it killed Radio. Their management was not capable of taking to the next level, they wanted them to stay small so they could eat their money. Only going to the BET awards and winning woke them up to their true international potential.
Management is crucial
Just like leadership is crucial to a nation, management is the defining factor in maintaining success. Any talented artist can break into stardom, but to stay there you have to good management. Artists choose the worst managers, people who just want to hang around stars, normally the guy who settles and counts the bar bill becomes you manager. Music management is no different from corporate management, in fact you are better off hiring a manager who worked in a normal company, like a bank or a factory. A person who is disciplined, has people skills, clerical skills for records, can negotiate contracts, can handle bookings but leave your financial management to a qualified financial manager. Do NOT pick the friend you drink all day with, don’t pick a friend who helped you along the way because you feel you owe them a favour. Don’t pick someone because they know the industry better than you, that is an agent, not a manager. Your manager manages you, your team around you, your financial manager handles money, your agent books your shows for a commission. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT give ALL these jobs to one person, ESPECIALLY if you are related. Don’t pick relations or best friends, and if you pick strangers maintain a professional relationship, don’t be best friends, maintain a distance. Above all, sign contracts which stipulate everything, their workload, their responsibilities, the timeframe of the contract and how much they are paid. This is very hard in the chaotic world of music, where money comes in spurts and dry spells.
Get a team
Radio should never have been killed like that, he should have had management protect him more. Good management spots problems early and cuts them out. They manage your security, entourage, spending, and keep you out of dangerous locations. Good management understand that nothing can touch the golden goose, otherwise they will all be out of a job. King James was once in a bar and called his financial advisor to ask if he could afford to drink that day, he said no, and he left. That is what happens when you have a team around you to keep you accountable, no just vultures wanting to eat your money, who keep you drunk all day and night to steal. Have a publicist, manage you image, every word you say must be on point, all actions, all pictures. Beyonce has a team of 50 people so she just has to arrive on stage and perform, that is why she looks professional because someone is behind taking care of everything. Her father, was a VP at Sun Microsystems and left to manage her group and it was $1bn venture. Do not rely on rich benefactors because they will control you forever, rely on your talent.
Maintain some aura of mystery, don’t be everywhere all the time, be paid to make appearances not pay to make appearances. Crucially, separate your real self from the Star you portray, don’t mix your ego and alter-ego. If you are called David Mugabe always remember, remember the real person you are before you became famous. So many stars forget who they are, become a cartoon version of themselves, no one around you will tell you you’re crazy. Keep people who keep you grounded in reality.
RIP RADIO MOWZEY
Think global, act local