Written by Ernest Tulye Nsimbi Lupiazitta Zamba
The events of the last week are nothing but shameful! And I feel for the future of our young artists in the Industry. On my return to the Industry, I nonchalantly dropped a single in typical GNL Storyteller fashion giving credit where due to fellow artists and the girl I Love #HipHop. My single caught the ears of the fans longing for genuine lyrical content and took off to the charts like a wildfire 🔥 and soon the chants began on social media and in the streets “THE KING IS BACK !!! “ All I wanted was to release a song that tells my Hiphop story, as “to know where you are going, you need to know where you come from.” I have a new solo album coming called THE SPEAR and I’m confident that it is the one to take LUGAFLOW fully to the mainstream international market. I have taken 3 years creating it, taking time and not compromising quality or authenticity. My fans deserve the best and if I’m going to represent my people, I will give it my best. THE SPEAR album is my next stage of artistic evolution. Think Koyikoyi album but on a more mature, refined, and diverse stream of thought 💭 and sonic exploration.
I have been on a spiritual Journey! In the Mecca 🕋 of entertainment hanging with The Gangstas, the Hippies, and the Fabulous. Learning everything from Highlevel Music performance (instead of being a gym instructor on stage) (Shots fired) I have acted in a few small roles, allowing myself to grow and this month I will be PREMIERING the very first of many videos/films I directed. YES it seems I direct better than I act 🙈😂
Last week with the success of my latest single Dear Hiphop I admit I had forgotten how vicious Kampala can be, and I was still acting like I was in LALALAND 😂😂😂😂
I expected civility and brotherhood but no sooner had THE LION KING ZAMBA (SIMBA) landed than the hyenas pounced hoping I would lose my vision for the Lyrically Starving Kingdom. I know I can sometimes be a dominating figure- giants form huge shadows! My presence made the insecure parties of my genre do what people do when they are afraid- hate and attack are the responses of a binary mind. As Nas says, “people fear what they don’t understand, hate what they can’t conquer.”
On interviews I was caught off guard, often a set up starting with a “bribed presenter” and editor. My pacifist nature appealed to me but the battle instinct of a young GNL Zamba popped out on some particular interview, reminding me I had more work to do to become a higher me and continue to be a great example to my younger brothers (I can’t start freestyling disses on live TV because honestly, the Ugandan masses are still on a spoon-feeding level of Hiphop. My wit and braggadocios cadence to amateur listeners is sometimes mistaken for arrogance, forgetting this is what all Hiphop artists do: we express ourselves at the highest level in the language of the street called “talking yo shit !!!” Jay-Z does this, Nas does this, Your Humble Lugaflow Legend does this too- immaculately like I did on the Bomboclat Remix - GNL ft Ykee
Anyway! On my return, I have realized that nothing has changed in the Industry. I have realized that nothing has improved through an intellectual artist lens. The bitter and toxic seed of small-minded violence and warring among musicians like Jose Chameleon, Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine is now a tree bearing the bitter fruit that feeds local ethos !!!
To sum up the ZEITGEIST, I don’t want to be a part of this negative cycle. My mission is to uplift. Hiphop must uplift and empower young men and women. Hiphop’s Higher power cannot be diminished by ignorance and I shall not digress from the vision by wallowing with swine.
A Hiphop BATTLE is a sport of dueling 🤺 with words, where respect is shown to either party. But when you trade insults about mothers and children outside of a battle arena, it seizes to be a battle and tumbles to the filthy gutters of a beef. For example, imagine Mayweather fighting in a ring compared to Mayweather fighting in a bar. Rap enthusiasts know how Tupac and BIG ended- there is no way to control the outcome, even wise men do foolish acts of violence in anger and revenge. I have maimed people in fights and honestly, I don’t think fights that beef provokes sit well after the death of two dear friends dying in such a manner (Moses Radio and brother AK47).
That said, I will use this opportunity the universe has presented as a teachable moment. I have said before that my role in Hip-hop is to inspire and crown young kings. As a Pan African I think this gets Africa closer to our goals. I love RAFIKI the baboon in Lion King because he reminded the young king of his responsibility to the kingdom while dealing with his struggles of the past. I named my company after seeing the baboon Troop! The unity in these creatures and seeing that the baboon was the wisest in the kingdom, also appeals to my spiritual consciousness of a bigger purpose to serve Humanity in my art!!!
The following should not be interpreted as an attempt to insult but rather to teach those that think the world ends at Busia. (That came out wrong but you get the point !!) As an industry, we need to lean back from the canvas to see the bigger picture.
Lesson commences! Some people need to be told that a dollar is heavier than a shilling and that performing one weekend in a 300 person venue in Las Vegas or Los Angeles is financially equal to a stadium in Kampala. Now imagine doing that twice a week when you have a residency contract for a year !!! People lie to themselves a lot. I also used to do the same. I used to come to America every year since 2009, but for years I was performing at "Ugandan" venues for the diaspora communities until I realized that this is like leaving Uganda to perform in the Katanga of America. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 (Facts: Besides Kenzo most Ugandan artists perform in places that Americans and mainstream international artists call “a hole in a wall” ie a dingy place in the middle of nowhere. Some Kampala clubs look far better than these places. But just coming to America doesn’t mean you have had the experience of performing on a reputable stage! I have had to work to that level also aided by the fact that a storyteller that speaks two international languages is an easy sell.
I have seen many artists with hits who are now poor. To me, it is more about quality than quantity. (Masterpieces versus Stop 🛑 signs). My approach to entertainment is be patient and work smart. Working so hard and in haste is an exercise in futility. That’s why you see even in their Mid-40s our big brothers are reduced to begging rich South African ba summer, Sugar Mummies and Powerful affiliations. Our collective image suffers when we do not learn the steps to get to real wealth! My revised approach to entertainment is better! It creates a better royalties strategy, better quality music for the listener, more time for family & loved ones, time to monitor other diversified business investments and time for constructive hobbies not to mention benefits to one's mental health, giving yourself enough sleep instead of local bar touring every night to promote a song often chasing & clashing with DJs like Empty Tin did with Dj Ciza. Such is symptomatic of frustration in dependence on one income stream- THE STAGE. This breeds the bwebatakakuba siyitawo mentality that most my fellow artists still have.
ie Hans Zimmer is one of the richest musicians in the world but does not have a hit, goes to the stage once a year and the ticket price is handsome. Meanwhile, our artists still give free tickets 🎫 to half the venue on their shows to put up the facade that they are big! Some camps pay bawagizi in the front row to keep hands up! The realities are harsh because after paying PAYOLA, bloggers, DJs, promoters, and journalists, the artist has little left if any to save for retirement. The Ugandan Local Musician Rat race has 10,000 mice, 50 hyenas but only two malnourished Lions 🦁 because even after years of hard work we haven’t escaped the cycle. Bwebatakakuba siyitawo is glorifying a hit so much that you miss why they call this a business, which requires “profits” and generates dividends.
To build wealth our paradigm needs to shift. If you know better you do better !!! California is built on tech and entertainment. Uganda can capitalize on this to become the entertainment capital of the world 🌍 but we are held down by small-minded crews defeatist to the higher calling! There was a time I was also naive and Ignorant. I’m still learning a lot. I remember when I did country tours and filled stadiums, making enough money to buy land and a few cheap cars that at the time I thought were amazing. I thought I was on top of the world until I realized that was an anthill and I had to work harder and explore more ground to make it to the HolyMountain!!! I’m still climbing, I’m still working to get to the peak, happy with the humble way things are going. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, my vantage point right now is Aaron (Prophet Moses’s big brother) standing on the mountain seeing the promised land. Moses labored with the Exodus for years but never made it to Canaan, only saw it from afar. Aaron and the young Hip-hop Israelites did. I’m here to take Hip-hop to its promised land !!! I don’t care who is king 👑 I know how to get through this desert 🌵 🐫 I know where the oasis is and we have the camels (Hip-hop). We can solve unemployment with Hip-hop while making a Billion playing on the global stage. Yes, we have the power to do that. I can see it clear as day but first I have to deal with a rabid dog 🐕 attacking my calf muscle and causing distractions. That was last week!
Proceeding on what we have to do: Building Ugandan artists and teams that can be paid at an international rate.
In 2015 I learned one thing that many Ugandan artists are yet to learn. An artist doesn’t only make money on stage. I only accepted bookings to shows that I wanted to do. I gave my self the opportunity to master my craft and DIVERSIFY !!!!!. Mid-year I applied for the 01 Visa for International Professional Artists and got it. The man at the window told me that in Uganda 🇺🇬 only Kinobe and I have ever been granted this. Most Ugandan artists still sneakingly use a visitors Visa to do the hole in the wall shows. You are not professional if you are still doing that, and oh by the way I suspect the EMBASSY knows.
If my attitude hadn’t shifted I wouldn’t have explored this. My partner had moved to California and I missed her. I went to visit twice but wasn’t brave enough to cut the cord. We did long distance for 9 months, but I kept postponing making a move while doing local gigs until she put her foot down. The frozen screens and bad internet FaceTime calls plus my indecisiveness were driving her crazy! One day with a “red face” amidst tears 😭 she said if you don’t make a commitment to grow with me in LA (Los Angeles) you have to let me go!
Love is a great motivator! I told her to give me a month, she said I had a week. I sold my bar that wasn’t making profits, hired an immigration lawyer, and applied for the same visa a British superstar would apply for to perform in the USA. My wife and a booking agent helped me book a string of shows in California. I felt so free in West Hollywood! First of all I could walk in sapatus to a Whole Foods grocery store without turning a head and being afraid that a Tabloid may make that a story!
(Tabloid stories like this affect brand value forcing artists to depart from reality to a more pretentious larger than life image) For five years I escaped that!
In West Hollywood and Malibu where I live and work respectively, I ran into A& B list Stars at the post office, coffee shops, next to my house, film sets and sets for commercials but most artists are simple beings. Damian Marley to Nas, these people ain’t as superficial as you make them out to be!
They spark mundane conversations and live simple lives. (Impossible to do in UG).
I had forgotten how tough it is to live in that existence of torment. I’m no stranger to struggle but I know there is a better way to live! (Dear Bloggers and presenters- even positive content pays and is respected let’s not destroy our society with the IT BLEEDS IT LEADS careless approach to news. See what it has done to AMERICA??! The richest economy in the world cannot agree to a bipartisan solution to corona simply because their polarized and divisive media has driven them to FUCKING HATE EACHOTHER for years! We can do better!)
In the few years, I have been “away,” I have made more money off-stage than I ever did in my entire career! I have only done entertainment work as a professional. I would have told you the story about how fellow immigrants discouraged me from doing music alone while away from Uganda advising me to do kyeyo! My fiancée then laughed so hard at the kyeyo returns and I also felt stupid! People who have this attitude will probably do this work for the rest of their lives paying huge taxes and having little savings. My time and passion were more valuable, the opportunity cost would be so high! I respect what other immigrants do to put food on their table but that is not me, my journey and purpose is in service and the arts. A ghetto dream in full Color takes sacrifice and persistence !!!
In 3 months after moving to Los Angeles, I booked a residency! With a company that could use an African artist using his African language. Luckily they had two packed venues. Every weekend, I performed in Las Vegas or LA depending on where the production needed my talents. The crowds loved me! Wuba Akatambala drove them crazy and my storytelling between songs has made me one of the most sought after East African artists in LA.
Through my art, I have a real chance at upward social-economic mobility. Like Alexander Hamilton why would I waste a chance at Inspiring others, opening doors, and becoming an African billionaire ?!!! (shoot your shot!)
Who wouldn’t want to operate legally in Hollywood? All it took was a leap of faith and a love that saw my talents constantly reminding me of my abilities.
Baboon Forest is now an LLC in the biggest entertainment city in the world (FYI There is no snow here, it only rains like twice a year). From humbling Kawempe Ghetto beginnings, I’m beginning to see a chance to get my family to a better life and retire well.
So do I loving having a hit ?!!! YES. Would I choose 100 hits over a career that gives me peace and makes money? HELL NO !!!
There is a need to break the mental chains. Artists, managers, and presenters have to think better and educate themselves better on these realities. To build a better ship to international waters we need a steady informed crew, not petty squabbling.
Diversification in income Is key ***** to any Business model, music included- they call it the entertainment business don't they? Any entrepreneur will tell you that, but I was often attacked for trying a hand at film. The hyenas laughed when I got a few small roles asking why I wasn’t in a blockbuster. Like babies, in everything we grow. I was only acting so I could learn to instruct actors. Again, acting is more like looking for a hit, while producing and directing is the more paying & sustainable career. The close-minded only think HIT eliwa but when COVID hit and the industry took a hit, I was cooling on an Island in the Atlantic shielded from the heat of the world on Martha’s Vineyard. Even Obama has a house here!!! Those are the real goals every creative should have. I’m using this time and knowledge-creating content and writing a script, while the musicians with hits are begging on TV 📺
This isn’t meant to be about me, this began as a tweet until I decided that I do a disservice to the next generation of artists if I don’t point out the mistakes and flaws of the current system.
Only a handful even have their songs registered and ready to collect revenue. Using myself as an example I never got any royalty money in Uganda while I only operated in one market, I didn’t know I was leaving money 💴 on the table. I was blinded by show money instead of the prize which was publishing! But now I get GNL and NSIMBI Royalties. Again one artist two brands (diversification). Film Music arrangers & composers tebalina hit !!!! In this COVID time where there are no shows people should learn a thing or two from people that have achieved a level of fame and passed it. We can survive a drought and have transcendent goals !!!! We don’t need drama to stay relevant- we stick to the mission of greater service to the genre and show respect to eachother!!! That is what Nigerians, South Africans have over us for now. Filling a stadium 🏟 is great. Even better filling it when your fans pay a good price for a ticket 🎫 , not 3/4 attendance free. Im certain the feeling isn’t great putting in all that hard work and having peanuts to show. A campaign of free tickets, and kneeling for rotation at every station is not a position any self-respecting artist loves. Our profession demands dignity and respect for self first. At least by my standards as a man. With the lack of a broad base understanding of the industry, sponsorship money is easily swindled by promoters under the nose of the artist, and they end up in debt paying with their money the things that the sponsor cleared or should be paying for. Anybody can fill a stadium even empaka za sebabi filled Nakivubo but the question is if you can fill your cranium with the know-how to retire well.
I Know after all this many will say that it is because I have a wealthy wife, but again I assure you, I have a wealthy wife because I have wealthy head (I play too much, that was a wordplay on cunnilingus in case you were slow to catch it, rappers will get this. I play too much I need to stop but this is fun).
As I was saying I have a good heart and a brain that I use often. Not to mention a well-chiseled face and manners from the Ssemakula household. Haters said the same about Jay-Z. See Beyoncé was richer than him by the time they were an official couple. But now he is a billionaire and she is a part of his legacy.
THE NSIMBIS, THE OBAMAS, KANYE, AND KARDASHIAN OR THE CARTERS- strength recognizes strength. It is also an inferiority complex and often false perception to think all white people are rich and that a Black man can’t fend for himself. I supported by wife then-girlfriend with my rapper money 💴 when we met. She didn’t have sh!t, she was working at Fenon, BUT that is another teachable moment for another day!
Thanks for reading this far lets work together and put more love in the world !!! #EnsiYaffe I’m Rafiki from the lion king🐒
Young boys can have the crown 👑 I don’t want it. I want a legacy of Lugaflow. I want to tap into the universal and limitless power of Hip-hop and to serve Uganda’s youth as a big brother! I want to show you how we can survive and thrive!
Baboon Forest Entertainment 🌳 🐒
GNL Kyali wo owe Kawempe ✊🏽🌍🙌🏽
#EnsiYaffe #ZambalandNation #BaboonForest Forever !!!