It has been a while ever since Michael Ross Kakooza has featured on our screens or even graced stages at major concerts. The ‘Usher Raymond of Uganda’ like many fans refer to him is a good dancer and entertainer. He likes big stages and performances.
However like he confessed sometime back on a local TV show, many Ugandans do not understand him or his kind of music. Although he is a veteran of sorts in the music industry in Uganda, his fan base has been very limited especially to the youth and university students to whom his urban dance moves appeal.
One of the reasons one observer gave is the fact that, his music genre of choice RnB doesn’t cut across many music lovers in Uganda. Most Ugandans are familiar with Afro-beat, Ragga and Dance hall music. The top artists have however come up with a style that fuses most, if not all the above with a blending touch from the traditional Kadongo Kamu commonly referred to as ‘Kidandali’.
Another keen observer however points to the fact that, Ross sings mostly in English where as the local fans are ‘comfortable’ with luganda and therefore prefer songs done in the local dialect. He argues that Diva Juliana Kanyomozi and her long time ‘frenemy’ Iryne Namubiru used to struggle a lot in the industry like Michael Ross before jumping into the luganda band wagon where they became instant hits after producing songs in luganda.
“Many Ugandans like songs done in luganda and therefore FM stations will not play songs done in other languages as they are also fighting for listeners” Tony an ardent Jose Chameleone fan noted
However, during the heated debate that involved artists led by Bebe Cool criticizing local DJs for shunning Ugandan music, X-FM’s DJ Beekay and Sanyu FM’s Fat Boy rubbished the ‘patriotism’ argument saying good music is good music regardless of where the artist comes from and language used, a good song will always be played on any radio, TV station and club.
“This man does not understand how the radio industry works. They are not charities. They exist to make money. If Ugandan artists want their songs played on radio, they need to make GOOD music.”
“As it is, very few Ugandan songs make the cut as ‘good’, and that’s why you don’t hear a lot of it on the airwaves. I like Bebe Cool as a person, but I’ll be frank, to me his music ain’t all that.” Fat Boy posted back then in March
And just at a time when Nigerian’s are forcing their way through onto our airwaves with their unique style of music that has taken the world by storm, some Ugandan artists have not given up the fight to compete with them in the international scene.
A case in point is Eddie Kenzo whose ‘Sitya loss’ song went viral on YouTube and othersocial media plat forms on the internet. With his strong danceable Afro beats and creative dance moves done by the ‘ghetto’ kids in the music video, the song has taken Kenzo places and he has become a darling of many yet he sings in luganda.
Other artists who have also upped their game include, Radio and Weasel who have been nominated for numerous international awards because of the high quality of music videos they have done. Jose Chameleone too went back to the drawing board and redid some of his music videos to raise them to ‘international standards’
However the biggest breakthrough and step forward comes from Bebe Cool whose simple but classic ‘love you Everyday’ song is what many critics and fans described as ‘close to perfect’. The song done at Fenon records by producer Michael Fingaz, became an instant hit on international scene. Locally here it has also become some sort of anthem for lovers as the contagious Reggae/Rock tune spreads like wild fire. Bebe Cool decides to take the direction of the western world by applying the ‘if you cannot beat them, join them philosophy’
Michael Ross took that direction too the last time he did something of significance with ‘clothes off’ still produced by the same man. The song was a big hit both locally and internationally. He then went quite and no one knew why.
However his latest project aimed at winning more fans and support at home is titled ‘Ndi Nowange’ loosely translated as I am with mine (lover) and still has 80% of the lyrics in English. Whether it becomes a big hit remains to be seen. However we can’t run away from the fact he has put on an effort for a serious comeback to the local music scene where artists are quickly forgotten if nothing new comes from them.
The love song as usual in typical Michael Ross fashion, has an RnB flavour blended with some old school disco Rhythm. His trade mark Michael Jackson/Usher Raymond dance moves are missing in the music video and replaced by a simple ‘I am in love’ story line in the backdrop.
Produced by Vince Musisi at Swangz Avenue, the song seems to be a new chapter in the artist’s music career as he fights his way back. He recently premiered the video shot at GoodEye Films at Club Venom and Amnesia and has already received invitation to some gigs including the Club Mega Fest Scheduled for September 20th at Namboole Stadium.
It seems a distant memory now when we listen to ‘Siniorta’ that became his biggest selling song and hopefully with these new songs Ndi Nowange’ and ‘Love I feel’, he can rediscover his form and win over Ugandan music lovers.