Monday, September 11, 2006

East African Bashement Crew is on fire

MEANT TO WORK TOGETHER: The East African Bashment Crew became an overnight success after Bebe Cool went into studio with the Necessary Noize duo of Nazizi and Wyre. Their Fire Anthem says it all
Some snobs claim that true reggae must come from Jamaica, but like the universal message the genre carries, reggae is becoming a universal voice of unity spreading to all corners of the earth. In East Africa, there is a rich talent of African reggae, with a new wave of reggae and dancehall artists becoming best sellers in their own markets as well as breaking through on to the international music markets. The latest act to make a mark on the world music scene is the East African Bashment Crew (EABC), comprising of Kenya's Necessary Noize-Nazizi and Wyre (the love child) and Uganda's Bebe Cool. Hardly two years together, the trio is already curving out a niche on the international market as Africa’s reggae ambassadors. Their hit Africa Unite, off their maiden album, received a Kora Award nod under the category of the Best African Reggae Group. The song was also part of the collection of the biggest reggae tunes that feature on the African Reggae collection cover CD. Their Fire Anthem has topped a number of East African charts and the crew; says they have just begun their journey onto the international musical scene. Fire Anthem has also been nominated for Kenya's Kisima Awards. Coming togetherThe collaboration between Nazizi, Wyre (the Love Child) and Bebe Cool is not new. Bebe Cool started his career in Nairobi, where he established close ties with Nazizi and Wyre from Necessary Noize who were also cutting their musical teeth. Meanwhile, on his return to Kampala in 1998, Bebe Cool rose to stardom as one of the local artistes. Even then, he did not lost touch with the then upcoming duo of Necessary Noize. Soon, he was talking them into coming down to launch themselves onto the Ugandan market as well. "Bebe Cool brought us to Uganda for our first concert which was at Steak Out. It was his show-'the return of the King' after his sojourn in the states (US)," the first lady of Necessary Noize, Nazizi, recalls. That was in 2004.
HOT TRIO: East African Bashment Crew’s Nazizi (left), Bebe Cool (centre) and Wyre. Photo by Edgar R. Batte
That marked the beginning of the trio's musical journey. On their way back from the performance, Bebe Cool asked them whether they could take their association to another level by doing a song together. When they went to studios, they did five songs instead of one. "From there, everything just happened so fast. We decided to form the East African Bashment Crew simply because we mixed so well," Nazizi chips in. The outcomes of their collaboration are hits like the Fire Anthem and Africa Unite. Nazizi points out that they were meant to be, because it is not that easy to find someone with whom one can do five songs with in a matter of three days and you end up sounding like you have worked together for a while. Since then, every time Necessary Noize comes down to Uganda they make sure they record some new music. When they talk about their future, it is with so much optimism. Breathing fire "From the first time we came together, we have just been growing bigger and bigger. We are spontaneous when it comes to style but strictly a reggae group that wants to bring up the picture of African reggae," Bebe Cool says of their union. He says that they decided to particularly do reggae because it is the only music genre that can connect an African group to the rest of the world. Since they want to develop to doing live music, the Bashment Crew feels it can be pulled off more easily with reggae music. Bebe Cool has already started fine tuning his live performances with the assistance of Afrigo band. He also discloses that the EABC plans to work with them (Afrigo). The crew, arguably the most successful group in East Africa currently, judging from the positive response their music is generating. "We have just sold our album strictly for the internet market to Swift Global Kenya for Kshs1m (approximately 25million). We have sold the buyer the copyright for one year. He (the buyer) is a good businessman and has already paid for the music," the crew exclusively revealed to It's Friday. They were able to make a trip to Ethiopia to shoot the video of their first song Africa Unite, leading to a Kora nod. The new Fire Anthem video has also played a part in promoting the song in Kenya, Tanzania and beyond the African borders. "I think Africa Unite was just the beginning for us and like the song said, it was the beginning of uniting East African music. We still have a long way to go and people have just had an introduction. They have a lot to see and hear (from us)," Nazizi put it. Big plans for the Future Riding high on their good fortune, the trio is grateful for the success of their maiden album and they have now embarked on new projects. The group is slated to perform at two concerts in London this November. They also have an upcoming tour in the US in August.Their main focus at the moment is signing a promotion deal with one of the big East African companies. "I have drawn up proposals for this plan and some of the regional companies like the idea," Bebe Cool notes. He argues that this would make them superior in East Africa as well as enable them produce more quality work. On their first album, they worked with Dream Studio, First Love Studios and the work was finalised by Nairobi's Ogopa deejays.They have now started working on their second album with the help of the Ogopa Deejays and other Nairobi producers. "The upcoming album is going to attract international interest. Basically the album has nothing to do with local languages. All songs are in English. This is not to mean that we do not like our local languages but of course we do different work for the local audience as well. We need to attack the international market with the same energy and quality of work," the crew pointed out. Unlike their maiden reggae album, the trio discloses that their forthcoming album is going to be more of dancehall. They have already collaborated with Peter Miles and Menshan; the product is expected to be out soon. On the album they have also featured two other international artistes who remain a surprise for their fans, just to prove how big they are. Besides their joint mission, the artistes are also looking at developing their solo careers. Wyre has a new solo 15-track album. Nazizi is also releasing her album soon, whereas Bebe Cool has just released his Sente album. Watch this space.


Blogger ngeks said...

nice article,
Got a question. Where do i get their album, am in Vancouver Canada and just came back from nairobi but wasnt able to get my hand on the album. Give me a shout as to where i can land an "East African Bashment crew" album.

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