Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The 2010 Ugandan PAM Artiste of the Year

Bebe Cool in a video shoot
As anyone even remotely interested in Ugandan music and entertainment now knows, musician Bebe Cool (birth name- Moses Ssali) was named Pearl of Africa Music Awards 2010 Artiste of the Year. It is an award Bebe Cool has coveted since 2003 when Isaac Mulindwa organised music awards first came into being, adding an extra end of year spice to the entertainment scene. And, though in some quarters it is disputed, ratcheting up the competitiveness in a field that already was quite competitive. 

I say in some quarters, because, even though some musicians denied they wanted to have anything to do with the awards, they still could not stop talking about them. Bebe Cool included, who each year he lost, to Jose Chameleone (2003), to Bobi Wine (2006), he loudly and vociferously denied that those awards meant anything. They were fixed, as far as he was concerned. Some musicians, like the best known female gospel singer Judith Babirye, went ahead to demand they not be nominated, would certainly never appear at the awards, because then they were sponsored by a beer company. (Judith Babirye not only received the 2010 PAM Award best gospel single for Wanjagala) but she also actually got on that ‘worldly’ stage and ‘mimed’ to her song. 

Mimed, because none of the artists who performed at the 2010 PAM Awards actually sang ‘live’ or had an accompanying band. Babirye’s ‘performance’ (if it can be called that...) was not the worst of that night, that unfortunate dishonour would fall to Cindy (legal names Cinderella Sanyu), who this blogger will still insist can put on quite a show but that night was just not her night. In part, I suspect, because she had just lost the 2010 Female Artist of the Year award to Iryn Namubiru. 

So anyway, Bebe Cool was far from the only artist to trash talk the PAM Awards. Or media personality. It is always open season, when the PAM Awards on. But as one legend on a t-shirt claims, if no one is talking about you, you ain’t doing shit. The PAM Awards do matter.
Bebe Cool’s own reaction on finally winning the 2010 Artiste of the Year accolade says so. On Sunday, November 7th, 2010, a clearly exhilarated Bebe Cool posted as his Facebook status message, “These awards, I dedicate to Allah, my mom, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta, my wife and kids, brothers and sisters, producers, DJs, friends and fans of Gagamel. No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

  • Allah, because Bebe Cool is a lapsed, sometimes practicing Muslim (I guess depending on his mood and where he is in his life!
  • Mom, because Bebe Cool, in his earlier interviews at the beginning of his ascent to Ugandan musical fame, before he reconciled with his father, Honourable Bibandi Ssali, used to claim he had been raised by a single mother. The elder Ssali was once a part of the current Ugandan government before he fell out with President Yoweri Museveni, and has sebquently formed his own political party, the People’ s Progressive Party.  
  • Yoweri Kaguta (the other names of the President) because it was reported that Museveni personally contributed hundreds of millions of shillings to enable Bebe Cool to fly out of the country to the USA to get specialised treatment after Bebe Cool was shot on a Saturday morning 30th January 2010 by a policeman under yet to be still fully explained circumstances. The presidential contribution raised uproar from some who thought Bebe Cool did not deserve ‘special treatment’ after his ‘bad behaviour’ while others defended the ‘favour’ because Bebe Cool is a major musician in Uganda and one of the inspirations of upcoming younger musicians.
  • Wife and kids, because his former beauty queen wife Zuena Kirema Ssali is a muse of sorts. To Bebe Cool himself (her temporary estrangement in 2009 inspired a creative frenzy in the artist that yielded hits like Agenze, Bamugambe, and of course Kasepiki). And to other musicians like the Goodlyfe Crew leaders Mowzey Radio and Weasel, among whose break out  hits ‘Zuena’ catapuluted them to fame and escalated their feud with Bebe Cool; Eighton and Rainman whose Matama, that features the ‘real’ Zuena saved them from being one hit wonders with their Kiwoko.
  • Producers because one in particular, Rinex, worked on some of Bebe Cool’s biggest hits of the last two years. Rinex worked on Kasepiki, Bogolako, Chemical Reaction and Chap chap among many others on that Kasepiki album.
  • Gagamel-Bebe Cool’s crew, after he left Firebase Crew (or was tossed out, if you listen to Bobi Wine’s version). Mostly they are younger musicians he mentors.
  • The Bible-that one stumped me! The No weapons quote comes from the Christian Bible Isaiah 15:74.
Now, after all this, you might think 2010 Pearl of Africa Music Award Artiste of the Year is all Bebe Cool won. No! Bebe Cool was actually the biggest winner of the night. He also won 2010 Best Reggae artist and even more prestigiously Kasepiki was declared the 2010 Album of the Year. 

I will confess I had not laid hands on this Kasepiki album. So I sought it out to find out the album’s line up. In no particular order, below are the songs on Bebe Cool’s 2010 Kasepiki album...

  • Trouble
  • Kasepiki
  • Bogolako
  • Big Size
  • Come to Me featuring Ks Alpha
  • Chap chap featuring AY
  • Let It Rain
  • Sebowa
  • Nsumba Mata
  • I Believe in Love
  • Chemical Reaction
  • Till You Love Me  
The most arguments I have had are not about whether Bebe Cool deserved to be Artiste of the Year. They are about whether Kasepiki deserved to be Album of the Year when there are the likes of Jose Chameleone’s Basiima Ogenze, Goodlyfe’s Ngenda Mumaaso, Bobi Wine’s Mr. Money and Dr. Hilderman’s Amelia-just to mention the ones that come fastest to mind. 

Do you think Kasepiki deserved to be Uganda’s 2010 Album of the Year?


Anonymous said...

good one, davi, really a refreshing read. The kind you won't find in our mainstream newspapers. Cb

Iwaya said...

Thanks, CB!