After a long journey, from love lost to new discoveries of it, to wasted friendships, fallacies of business partnerships to a comfortable solidarity, life has shown me its rewards. The main thing that has come from it all is the degree of self-love one has. It is comforting to know humanity and humility still rule over all evils and the important part is the self and how to own it and love it. It takes strength, a lot of strength and faith. The battle of getting swallowed in expectation, pressure and failure – it happens as naturally as the rain or a cold winter breeze seeping through your window at five in the morning. The body, however, still breathes, eyes blink and your heart beats. With every demon lies an angel to counter-act all its moves – all one is meant to focus on is being – holding down the true essence of the self.
The musician and the politics of the environment are always battling for their existence, especially for those who are in the local industry. Content, expression and imaging is under pressure to look conventional, conservative or acceptable – you dress like A.T.I, you are a Satanist or have homosexual tendencies; you sing reggae music, you are on drugs such as marijuana and God knows what else, you wear tight jeans that are the colours of smarties with gold patented sneakers and carry a skateboard around, hang around mixed race people or white folk, then you are definitely going to get stares from people in a combi. Have you noticed how people really look at a group of exchange students or back-packing tourists cross the road or walk past? Does it not make you wonder about how open-minded Batswana are to the notion of difference or the other? We are keen at the notion of smartphones, blackberry, ipad, OrangeMoney or MyZaka but can never get used to an inter-racial couple, or a girl walking or dressing like a boy – we know nothing about such individuals but we continue to judge them upon face value? How free in thought are we in terms of learning new things – are we comfortable with them if they are there in their foreign contexts and not close – even if they are close – we look but do not touch – just whisper, cringe, point or laugh. My point is how much do we know about the Other to exclude them from society (okay, a bit of digression, but relative nonetheless)
How much do promoters and managers (instigators of un/healthy competition) know about artists enough to feel that they have a right of way in terms of making decisions for them. Sometimes I think it is the lack of effort put in by artists because we either assume the manager knows better about the artists than themselves (weird) or like they say – let the fool shoot themselves in the foot and limp out of your life (well, I say that…)
What I do not understand is how, after that rejection they feel that you are of lesser quality, because you would not accept their terms and conditions (which are never included in the contract or are in really small print). How do we make peace with competitive natures that cannot be avoided? Where you go around hearing that you as an artist have competition, but you were not out to compete in the first place? That you are a very rare species of people that actually despises, if not fears competition and would not like putting themselves in situations that are competitive.
Personally, I believe that it deters the nature of arts development and grooming, freeing the arts and being at peace with knowing that you are contributing positively by providing a platform of the free expression of arts – and not the cash in. It is unfair for those that do not see or are not able to identify such characters and it is a pity because they are young, therefore not prone to being guided or listening. There is a sense of self-guilt on my side, as I feel responsible for exposing certain individuals to these dream-gnawing demons, but on the other hand, every man makes the decision for themselves and the strength of the wisdom can only relay truths right? Experience should be a real determinant for an artist, how bad they want to succeed and what they truly want their talent to give back to them: money, attention, stability and just good karma in the end – what! Shouldn’t experience establish how worthy you are of talking big, claiming you are a brand and that you should demand a core level of respect.
It takes a lot of gusto to bind people with contracts, to get them to trust you and they sign away their future – what are you as a businessman or woman going to give a 17 year old drummer who has just finished school, is not lost and has the support of their parents, that their parents will not do for them? I understand the idea of business and how it is an adequate enough dynamic in the world of music and politics but some people are there to tarnish souls, manipulate them at the cost of their selfish wishes. I think the world can do, our industry can do without sleazy promoters and so-called artists managers – because with the right resources, transparency and a strong familial connection, artists should try, at least to make it on their own. You want to avoid situations where you are paying fees for this project, and subscription this and that – what about education – of the individual – of the talent – of the industry that you are in. I am not saying that we should boycott these functions because there are good souls out there but with every good soul, it seems there are five bad ones. Be wary. Ask and query. Do not give in to pressure, especially if you are a young artist. You were not born desperate. Do not be.