If there is one area in the music industry that Ugandan musicians know very well, it is beef. Almost the whole of the Ugandan music industry is thriving on musician ‘feuds’.
Beginning his career in the early 1990s as a DJ at the Maganjo Mizuri night and later signed to a Kenyan record label called Ogopa Djs, Chameleone enjoyed strong success with one of his first singles, Bageya, which featured Kenyan artist Redsan. He later collaborated with fellow Ugandan singer Bebe Cool, who was also recording at the same studio at the time.
However, after a short time together, Chameleone and Bebe Cool developed a tense rivalry. The latter came back home from where he met an upcoming musician with Bobi Wine being choice of his stage name.
The two formed a music group, the Fire Base Crew. They made a couple of songs but it was their 2003 hit, Funtula that finally made them a household name.
Funtula which means attack in Luganda was mainly hitting at Chameleone and his then white girlfriend. It enjoyed a lot of success though it marked the end of them singing together!
Claiming ownership of the song and trading of insults among the two is what followed. Bobi Wine and Bebe Cool badly split up that up-to-date they don’t see eye to eye. This has gone on to be the trend of Ugandan music up to date.
However, the question is; are these ‘feuds’ real or they are just taking unsuspecting public for a ride?
The earlier beef involved fighting especially at Night clubs and saw musicians like Bebe Cool, Vampos, Red Banton among others sustaining serious injuries. However, now it is only in songs and this has even changed the public’s attitude towards musicians’ beef. There were worries before that what happened between United States rappers 2 Pac and Notorious Big may appear happen in Uganda too but that perception has totally changed.
This is because the public has got used to the many feuds among musicians and has also become suspicious of them.
Bobi Wine and Bebe Cool’s feud immediately made them mega stars thanks to their hate songs. The public was always waiting for the “response” song between the two musicians.
Another batch broke away from Chameleone’s Leon Island and decided to form a group naming it Good Lyf that is Mowzey Radio and Weasle
The coming of the two saw Bebe Cool “break up” with his wife, Zuena in the same period. The group majorly thrived on singing about Bebe Cool’s relationship that had gone sour opening room for war between the two camps. However, it wasn’t only the Good Lyf, which had their entire first Album attacking Bebe Cool. Bebe Cool also benefited from it himself and had a full album about the relationship.
Bobi Wine as usual couldn’t miss out. He made a couple of songs about the matter which turned into mega hits.
But a few years later, all this was forgotten and the above musicians have organized several concerts between the feuding camps and the public has attended in large numbers, of course after paying.
The musicians who are now millionaires courtesy of their hate songs decided to bury their hatchets.
Why did they decide to reconcile? No one knows but maybe they saw that the public had enough of that.
Though, this does not mark the end of feuds in the Ugandan music industry. Of recent, members of one of Uganda’s oldest band, Eagles Production were at loggerheads since their split. The singers almost exchanged blows recently at Court where they had gone to answer to charges.
Three of Chameleone’s members, including his manager for the past eight years and his kid brother broke away to join the Good Lyf while one of Good Lyf’s members, Mowzey Radio opted to go solo.
One may argue that it seems the breakaway was because the Good Lyf members had come out of age having been nominated in last year’s BET Awards. Is it that the singers had turned into continental stars, performing across Africa and can now stand on their own?
Should we expect hate songs from AK-47 towards his big Brother, Chameleon? Or hate songs between the warring former Eagles Production camps?
Whether the feuds are real or fake, at least what can be confirmed is that the musicians are hugely reaping from it. And wouldn’t beef one another if it can bring in more money?!