By Cleo K. Murungi (@Cleo_TheSphynx)
Social Media is a blessing and a curse. A very powerful instrument for building, but also a weapon for destroying. I’d like to think we are a community, I use that term loosely. In every community, there are relationships, which work hand in hand with mutual respect and then give birth to beautiful babies called collaborations. Some of the biggest tracks in the industry have been collaborations. For example; Competition Is Dead, The All Female Hip-hop Cypher, Hustlers’ Night, Ndakwikundira, Bad Man from Kamwokya etc Like many other successful collaborations, they have Diversity in common. The variety of talent displayed on a single track makes for great music, which should be something taken seriously by any artiste. But that’s not what I’m trying to get into today.
Today, I want to touch on a very touchy subject. My last entry rubbed some people the wrong way, I cried myself to sleep for hurting so many peoples’ feelings. I’m now under psychiatric observation and this is only part of my therapy. Collaborations! Have you always dreamt of contributing to a dope song, maybe a remix or maybe The UG Cypher? Did you inbox your favorite rapper and asked them to be on your song and they just “brushed you off”? Then this article is for you. Rappers do collabos for many reasons. The very first reason is mutual respect. An artiste will only want to collaborate with somebody whose craft they respect and vice versa. They also collaborate with artistes who have something they bring to the table; like skill, tapping into new fans, different flavor that will work for the kind of song they are working on. Artistes like to work with those they have great chemistry with. Everything is nice and smooth if you get along and egos are not trying to topple one another. Which brings us to the mystery, or is it not, why your favorite rapper will not collaborate with you.
1.Pay your dues.
Many young rappers enter the game with a lot of ego, hot air and a misguided sense of entitlement. They never think that everything must be earned. Enygma has been open about this. You must pay your dues.
“I am wary of being used by a nobody who wants to latch on to my popularity to help jump-start his career. I will not be used as a shortcut by somebody unwilling to put in the same hard work I put in to build my brand. And that goes for those who want collabos and those who want beef. They both want the same thing, exposure. And I have more important things to deal with than help lazy bums take shortcuts to getting radio play. But if I see a chap is talented, very hard working and comes with a concept I like for a song, then we can work together.”
2.Creative cohesiveness (Different tastes, principles, preferences).
A couple of years ago, I was sitting in, during Ruyonga’s studio session. He had been sent a beat by Llyboc for a Ntinda Anthem. Llyboc said something blasphemous somewhere in his verse and that was enough for the Christian Emcee to turn it down. If your song is celebrating drunkenness, hoes and drugs, don’t expect Ruyonga or Enygma to jump at it in excitement. Still on this, but related to beat makers. I know you put in the work and you believe your beat is the reincarnation of Dr. Dre’s “Still Dre” and when you offer it, (moreover free), the recipient is reluctant to jump on it. It gets shelved or completely ignored. It’s nothing personal against you; people just have different tastes and preferences. All these things could be avoided if we just did our research before bombarding artists with demands.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about artistes is that they sit around, with all this time on their hands. And they should therefore always make time for you. Some of them have jobs outside music. Those who do music full time are even busier, even being on Facebook and Twitter is part of the job. They may not always be able to reply every inbox let alone do every collabo requested of them at that particular time.
“I would like to get in studio with most of the rappers in Uganda, but people think we charge for collaborations. I need to start charging! Be like a million per verse, haha. People have this whole thing like they can’t approach The Mith. Contact me! If it works,it works. Timing has to be right.
There was this one kid. He wanted to do a song with me and he met me in a bar. Ok. He introduces himself, says he wants to do a collabo. I am just wrapping up my album last year, so I said yeah, ok, when I am done with this stuff, then we do Navio’s concert, then Lira, then my concert, so any time after that is cool. He was like “no, I need the song now!” And I was like, “Guy, I have told you my stuff, but let’s get together Oct 18 onwards”. He was like, “Oh so you’re not going to do a song with me?!” No. I am not going to. Not now.” – The Mith (Conversations with rappers 4)
Talent is a wonderful thing. Ego is only tragedy to the most talented and promising artists. But Insolence is the End. The only thing insolence does, is not get you anywhere. Outright disrespect when you’re requesting or demanding for a feature, and even when you get turned down for whatever reason, only shut doors for you. We have heard of young rappers throw tantrums and become abusive because they are not getting what they want. Some people refer to it as a case where “top rappers do not want to support new blood”. Nobody ever asks for the facts or the top rappers’ side of the story.
“If you are a newcomer approaching a veteran, then present yourself with respect. People are supposed to respect others naturally, but even more so when you need something from them. I’ve seen dudes send me a message along the lines of “Yo! I’ve got this banger in studio and I’ve told the producer you’re coming in 30 minutes to lay down your verse! Here’s my number 077385398, call me when you’re done with your 16 bars and I’ll come listen. Another told a friend of mine “Yo, I have this banger that’s going to resurrect your career. Call me on 077385398 if you’re interested and I’ll arrange studio for you. Otherwise I’ll give it to someone else. Such fools need thousands of slaps!”-Enygma
5. Substandard work.
Maybe nobody has told you this straight to your face, but nobody wants to collaborate with a wack rapper. Maybe it’s the flow and delivery need a little more work, maybe it’s the lyrics. Usually, one would work with somebody whose work they are familiar with. Someone who is just as good or even better than them. Not somebody who is going to compel your listeners to block out half the song. There are also cases where verses have been removed or songs don’t make it out of studio because certain things were just not up to standard. Just don’t catch feelings. Do better instead. Maybe someday they’ll be the ones asking you to jump on their tracks.