Untold Profiles with FELIX NYAMBE
JUST what defines a top class music producer; one who can make what is perceived an ordinary song become a hit among the global music critics?
When Michael Jacksonâ€™s best-selling album, Thriller, in the history of contemporary music raked in a staggering 70 million copies worldwide, ever wondered who its producer was?
Yes, the incomparable Quincy Jones was the master-mind of the epic album in 1982 and still holds the best-selling record of all time that won more than eight Grammy Awards in one night in 1983.
Today, across every corner of the music industry, intelligent and innovative music producers are considered as hit-makers, money-spinners, versatile artistes, who turn ordinary lyrics and beats into good music.
Remember Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis or LA Reid and Baby Face? Well, this quartet was hugely responsible for the transformation of pop/soul music into R&B/disco-peppered hits across the US in the 90s. That could be debatable, I guess.
But back home, music producers, or those masquerading to be such, leave much to be desired, otherwise we would not be subjected to what is blaring on the airwaves and in nightclubs.
Monotonous may be an understatement because just how do you describe songs that are produced and released overnight, and only to fade in a space of weeks?
And if that has to change, music producer Rodge P, like some of the few who have maintained the listenable and appreciated rhythms, seems to have a solution. Or do they?
â€œMaybe Government should come in and regulate us, otherwise, either our local music has gone to the dogs or the dogs have come to the industry,â€ bemoans Rodge P, whose real name is Rodgers Phiri.
The 37-year-old music producer and electrician has since establishing his own studio, Rodge P Studios, situated in the capitalâ€™s sprouting township of Chipata, strived to produce good music.
At an early age of 10, he was already steadily following the music of some of our local music luminaries such as PK Chishala and Paul Ngozi.
Rodge P, therefore, suggests that we need to revisit our music archives or posterity will judge us harshly.
The former Munali Secondary School pupil, who considers himself a â€˜Zam-dancehallâ€™ and â€˜kalifunkuâ€™ singer, has been in and around the music studios since the days of Muvi Studios.
â€œI recorded my first single, Pregnant School Girl, at businessman Edgar Angoni Ngomaâ€™s Star-quest Records situated at Carousel Shopping Mall in 2000, and ever since, I dream, eat and sleep music,â€ he states.
In 2003, under versatile producer Chris Mongri Zulu, one of the architects of the Muvi Posse Band, Rodge P went on to release his other song titled Mutuleni.
Its sequel under Trixter Studio was thus inevitable and the song Why Kakuona (featuring the Orga Family), was released immediately, before the singer unleashed the remix of Mutuleni (featuring Dalisoul) months later.
With these ideally smart social commentary songs, Rodge P went on to create his own studio in 2005 and ever since, he has not sat on his laurels.
The singer, who wed Sekai Phiri in 2002, with whom he has three children; Paul (13), Shadreck (11) and Loveness (eight), has been tirelessly producing songs for other singers.
â€œI have produced songs for other upcoming artistes including the likes of General the Caleb and Mo Money, in the recent past,â€ he reveals.
But with the coming up of many studios across the country, Rodge P desires to see more quality songs on the market than what he considers as â€˜one-hit wondersâ€™.
A few producers, such as Trixter, Flat-line and XYZ studios, he observes, have come on board and made a difference on the quality of locally produced music.
Other studios such as Brathahood Records, which is co-owned by brothers, Roberto and General Ozzy, have also been inspiring, according to Rodge P.
On April 30, 2016, Brathahood received accolades for producing, Amarulah, â€˜Song of The Yearâ€™ for both the Zambia Music Awards (ZMA) and Namibia Music Awards (NAMA), Pan-African category.
â€œOther notable studios which have been receiving kudos lately include Bizzy Baila, Bravo Records, Roma Side, Digital X, K-Amy, Kula Music as well as Danger Zone,â€ the singer said.
But over-all, Rodge P feels with the injection of funds in the arts fraternity through the National Arts Council (NAC), the music industry will be treated to and fed with some quality music.
In the end, concludes Rodge P, the few awards ceremonies held in the country will have a better judgment of what is brewing in the local music industry.
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Untold Profiles with FELIX NYAMBE