Sierra Leone’s Entertainment industry has suffered a lot of setbacks and is faced with myriad of challenges. Because of the high risks involved potential entrepreneurs shy away from investing in the industry. Those who get involved want short term returns. The country’s contemporary music is only popular amongst Sierra Leoneans and most artists, no matter how popular they have become, have not been able to breakthrough in the international market.
By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla
Additionally, people have expressed apprehension about the attitude, conduct, work ethic and aspiration of artists who only wait for their first major hit and they renounce contracts. Some so-called show promoters have also been accused of always wanting to live off the artists and percentages meted out to the artists are incommensurate to the value of their products. Also, the Sierra Leonean culture has always been widely and largely receptive to assimilate foreign cultures and songs. This has been a serious obstacle to the growth of Sierra Leonean known music genres.
In early 2000 Jimmy B arrived with his Paradise Studios, after a long and successful music sojourn abroad, to revolutionise the industry with young talented Sierra Leoneans taking advantage of the opportunity to express themselves through music, to the extent that Jimmy earned the accolade of ‘godfather of contemporary Sierra Leonean music’. Several years later there were significant contributions to the development of the industry and its actors by Sahr Issa of Yahoo.com fame and football icon Mohamed Kallon through the KallBoxx Studios under the Kalleone Group of Companies.
Now, the hope of the industry seems to rest on the firm and enterprising shoulders of a young legal practitioner and philanthropist called Abu Bakarr Turay Esq. aka The Kabaka. And his newly established Kabaka Multimedia and Entertainment (KME) is the new wave that has taken over the entertainment landscape in Sierra Leone.
“My aim is to use entertainment as a medium to change the narrative of our country,” says The Kabaka. “Music has greatly shaped the destinies of many nations. It is Sierra Leone’s turn to show Africa that we can be the best in music in terms of talent and artistic abilities, and it’s time to tell our own positive stories by ourselves.”
He continues: “Quality music will change people’s perception, both in and out, about Sierra Leone. It will give a new sense of hope to those who thought the industry has lost direction and is now left in the hands of haphazard operators. The game has just begun.”
KME has signed six major local and proven talents- Rozzy, Markmuday, Blesz, Future K, Krack Twist and Samza. These are amongst the first crop of Sierra Leonean celebrity artists to be part of KME. The rumours about each one of these artists being dashed a car are quite true, although the young CEO is very shy about that. The Kabaka believes that motivating the artists is key to bringing the best out of them.
He says KME intends to produce songs that will not only sit within the boundaries of Sierra Leone, but that will first be very popular within the Mano River (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) and The Gambia. This will, he continues, set the stage for Africa and the international community. He says he intends to achieve this by creating songs that will undeniably beat the current trend and that will compete internationally, especially with songs from Nigeria and Ghana.
The KME label has already hit the airwaves with two very popular songs, ‘Omojuba’ and ‘Kam Ya’. These songs will be released at the official launching of KME at the Radisson Blu Hotel on 28th April 2017. Hopes are high. Expectations have gone over roof tops. The future it seems is very bright for Sierra Leone music industry. The new face of that is KME. Support and patronage is what the CEO says they need from Sierra Leoneans.
“Entertainment only has one language, to give pleasure to people in whatever state. Even when someone is sad, there is their kind of song or music. It is one way you can always be able to relate to people,” says The Kabaka.
Let the music play.