UNTOLD PROFILE with FELIX NYAMBE
SOMEONE asked a group of music fans as to who is the most happening Zambian hip hop artiste currently; a few names were suggested but Chef 187 seemed to be the common choice for most of them.
It is easy to understand why that is so.
His current album Amnesia was one of the most anticipated albums on the local front in many years. The album was launched in December last year alongside his new clothing line “In a relationship Ne Ndalama” which is an urban wear range of coats, head socks, caps and t-shirts.
The clothing line is a natural progression for his brand as it represents the culture and communities that have followed his career over the years, attending his concerts, supporting him via social media and purchasing his albums
But much of the focus has of course been on the Amnesia album.
“It’s an album that expresses my growth as an artiste and I hope it connects me even further with the people that have supported me over the years,” the rapper said about the album.
Chef 187 has had a massive period in his career recently, performing at major events countrywide and working with organisations to promote social causes across the country. As a true demonstration of his rapid rise as a brand, Chef 187 worked with major international and regional brands such as Coca Cola and Hungry Lion, helping major them make meaningful connections with his fans and the general public.
Well, the multiple award-winning artiste who is the younger brother of Macky II, seems to have the world at his feet right now.
Born Kondwani Kaira on May 23 in Luanshya, he is the fourth born in the family of six. He came on the scene after his older brother but he has quickly gone on to establish his own name.
Lukundo Siwale, who is part of his management team, says the rapper wants to do something different from what others are doing and is eager to set standards for the industry.
Just over five years ago, he stormed the stage with the song Pa Mute which features incarcerated singer Nice M. But it was his works in 2013 that really cemented his stake on the stage.
Remember Foolish Me!
Chef 187 has gone on to share the stage with some of the finest and hard-core rappers and singers in the music game.
He attended his early school in Lusaka at Woodlands B but he reckons it was his move to the Copperbelt where he attended Kabundi High School in Chingola that enabled him to get some recognition.
His 2013 works, Foolish Me won him a Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Born ‘n’ Bred Award. But he was not done, he went on to win the coveted Zambian Breweries-sponsored Mosi Zambian Music Awards (ZMA).
“I also worked with big brother Macky II on the song Tabailapo from the album Zero to Hero as well as Am Zambian hip/hop and Seka Uponoke from the Ndimupondo CD,” says the artiste who also studied Business Administration at the Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts.
More hits followed-up; Amenso Pamo, Chinkula, Higher, Kumwesu, Bruce Le Tapompele and Two Two. He featured on Aikon-1’s Kwacha as well as Nice M’s Nga Na Ponena the song which also features Pilato.
A year later, his song Shofolo was named the Best Hip Hop song in the Born ‘n’ Bred Awards.
His 2014 album was titled Heart of a Lion and has songs like Ndafilwa Ukuichindika, Wala and Kumalila Ngoma. Around the same time, he was chosen as a brand ambassador for Proflight and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Now, he is running with the 18-track Amnesia album on which he has worked with the likes of Petersen, Macky II, Mumba Yachi, Pilato, Jay Rox and Jedi with others like Toni Breezy, Cream Dollar, Silent Erazer, Dice Ricco and Mag44 all coming in as producers.
“The album generally talks about having amnesia on the success that you have had over the years such that you can work like you’ve got nothing to your name,” he says.
Chef was recently on CNN where he talked about his music career including his clothing line.
“I sing songs which are clean because most of my fans are youths, so I do not entertain vulgar language in my music,” he said.
“As an artiste, you have to be smart, both off and on stage because we are the mirror of society.”
All in all, he says his journey in music has had its highs and lows.
“It has been down moments as well as moments that are worth remembering. There have been challenges, it hasn’t been a smooth road, but all I can say is that the brand is getting bigger,” he says.