Creating is about freedom, and obtruding agendas disrupt the experience and output.
Historically, the art of creating an artiste’s brand and business has basically been dependent on the uniqueness the artiste offers. It’s always been about personal goals and how one's individualism and experience can influence and shape the direction of their art.
And truly, each person is different. You will have an artiste who will create music simply because there’s a wave, and another delivers a narrative that best details his or her struggles.
The truth is music is an art form that often imitates life. It has acquired a central role in almost everything we as the human race are about. It’s a force and an effective tool to start conversations around economic, social and political issues. What’s important to any creative in the world is to be awarded the freedom to explore and exhibit their artistic elements the best way they can.
While a country like Tanzania faces serious censorship, Kenyan artistes might stop at nothing to have their music playing in the clubs or on the airwaves. For most of them, they are on a ceaseless verge to release a number one hit that will boost their brands. However, in an era where youth are being encouraged to advance their entrepreneurial skills, it also feels like their freedom to create is being curtailed.
Roughly less than seven months ago, Alvindo landed a hit perhaps by fluke. For anyone who was following, he seemed to be riding a wave - the “Lamba Lolo” wave. And to his surprise, his effort “Taka Taka,” which in sense was not even meant to be a proper track, found its way to the clubs and even better the airwaves. It was an absolute banger. However, Kenya Film Classification Board’s boss Ezekiel Mutua recently banned the tune, deeming it offensive to women.
Was this ban justified? On one side, many may back Alvindo’s freedom of expression, as it might be based on his actual experience. On the contrary, others might be frustrated by the controversial theme highlighted. Lyricism like "Unakataa kua dem yangu Naenda kwa mrogi nakuroga Unakufa na nakuja kwa mazishi yako kukula na kukunywa nikuchekee ukizikwa" might have been meant to provoke fun when it all began, but this has not been taken that way by detractors.
It’s unfortunate that some people have established takes on artistes and probably don’t seem to know when to separate the work from the creator. In the case of Alvindo, as he has repeatedly suggested, he simply builds an elaborate narrative that simply details his life and what he actually feels about this entire encounter. The ban certainly pushed him to release the track's video, and that has since put him in trouble with the authorities.
It might be true, music can influence the masses to a certain direction and shouldn’t be used to infringe the rights of anyone, but controlling the artiste’s thought process can also be considered retrogressive. Every artiste should have their own personal way of relating with the world. Musicians need to eat. If the only way they can achieve that is by going against the grain, then we should let them. All we consumers can do is pick what we want to listen to and leave what doesn't work for us.
When an artiste is making music, they don't go around compelling people to like it. No, they just create and hope people will like it for whatever reason. Having that experience with any art form is indeed a good thing. Creating is about freedom, and super-obtruding agendas obscure and kill the significance of the experience and the work developed.