A list of who we think did the thing in 2018 as far as urban music goes…
10. Hayze Engolah:
You would agree with us that we, or rather most of his fans, wish we/they saw more of the fulfilment of most of the promises that this man made this year; starting with the EPs he said he would release this year to the ‘From the Trap to the World’ Documentary that was never released. However, it goes without saying that the self-proclaimed modern-day Matafale had a good year with a good number of features including making it on the South African Artist’s album (Fameboy Hydro) that also featured Da L.E.S, Stogie T, and Gemini Major. Hayze also made one of the most talked about collaborations of the year with Trevor Trix as the two went Reckless with the 16’s. Rounding off the year with the DecemberFest performance (after performing for the SummerJam Gardens), it has been the most active year the Ghaadbody has ever had as a solo artist.
9. JayJay Cee:
One of the artists who was busy in the studio in 2018. Jay Jay Cee appeared on the lists of most of the people we interviewed about ‘who did the thing in 2018’ as far as Malawian Urban Music is concerned. Definitely one of the best DanceHall Acts of 2018.
Sangie is one of the artists showing other Malawian artists it’s possible to grow from being in the studio to working with the corporate world as she became UNICEF’s Champion for Children this year. Sangie started her year with a performance at the SET IT OFF event organized by the Lake of Stars Crew in January; in February she released a 4-track EP titled LOVE ARCADE. Sangie was also one of the performing artists at the BEERFEST show organized by Castel Malawi. To top it all, her song titled ‘Ngwazi Zazikazi’ featuring Robert Chiwamba won an international award at the 2018 European Union Development Cooperation (Devco) Europeaid Communication Awards.
Pay attention to Sonye as a producer, you would think he cannot do better at singing; pay attention to him as a singer, you’d think he cannot do better at being a music producer. Sonye is one of the Malawian artists who do not get the praise they deserve. His 9-track Somewhere in Africa EP is one of the best bodies of work that came out this year.
6. Kim of Diamonds:
Definitely One of the most hardworking artists in Malawi. Kim is one of the few artists in Malawi who see the need of not starving their fans with a long-month’s drought of not feeding them with new music. She released a 19-track album this year (in August) titled Kim of Diamonds. Kim also started her year by being part of the SET IT OFF show organized by Lake of Stars and later on shared a stage in the same setting with Major Lazor and Sauti Sol at the Lake of Stars this year.
5. Tay Grin:
A man who needs no introduction. Tay Grin started his year by announcing his partnership with UN Women in Malawi as the He for She Champion for Girls Education. He later on grew his relationships with the corporate world by organizing free shows to celebrate the awards he won at the Nyasa Music Awards. A move that was criticized by many as a Fredo-wanna-be type of rapper. Being a celebrity who’s used to shutting out negativity, he reminded us that all we’re good at doing is ‘kuLUBWA-LUBWA’ when the LUBWA video premiered on TRACE AFRICA in October. The Nyau King also pushed more international boundaries by making it on Supersport TV earlier this year. Need we mention the noise his Chipapapa Fruit Drink has made?
The Slice Magazine’s Second Issue Cover Star. The man who signed the legendary DareDevilz to his Ghetto King Kong Recording Label this year. Fredo started this year where he left off in 2017 by making more moves in the corporate world with the British High Commissioner and UNICEF. His video ‘Amafila Fredo’ aired on Trace Africa in March and he also headlined at the Lake of Stars alongside international acts – Major Lazor and Sauti Sol.
If our list was only based on the moves being made by artists in the corporate world, both Tay Grin and Fredokiss could have been top two. But the two only have a combination of three songs this year (Tay Grin released one song this year).
‘Waondaso nthawi zanji?’ show us a Malawian rapper who is better at handling the controversies that surround him/her, we will wait. Gwamba had a good year which begun with him dropping his 7-Track In Advance EP and has since released singles that did massive numbers as far as downloads go, on the Malawi Music Website. He is probably the Malawian artist with the most number of music videos released this year. Ending the year with 5 nominations at the 2018 UMP Awards, he is definitely top three on our list.
2. Hazel Mak:
You can say what you want about Hazel Mak’s music, but your favourite Malawian artist never bagged an award at the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) – one of the biggest award shows in Africa. Her single, JAIVA, which won the award was also aired on BBC Africa in March after the video had been released two months earlier. The singer pushed the hardest on the international scene and definitely put Malawi on the map this year.
Suffix was recognized as the best artist this year by the music fans and the few journalists we approached when compiling this list. He is a combination of what all the aforementioned artists did as he pushed on the international scene (by featuring Sho Baraka on his ‘Ghetto Ndi Nyatwa’ song and aa performance in South Africa); released what is arguably the best Malawian rap album at the moment (Before I Sleep); organized a show for the album launch on 5 May that had a great turn up of fans; was one of the headliners at Lake of Stars and Sand Music Festival this year; Most Nominated artist (alongside Gwamba) at the 2018 UMP Awards and; he’s advert in the fight against cholera was also a great gesture, showing artists it’s not only about making music.