Kenya is an interestingly oxymoronic country. Our brightest political minds will never hear their footsteps echo down the halls of parliament. Our greatest athletes will never don the jerseys and cleats or step on the fields and arenas to represent us. Our brightest minds went abroad to mint money off their wit and even after being proven brilliant, we still don’t fight to get them back. And it’s even worse for the right-brained crowd. Our most creative are the equivalent of underground rappers; a tightknit community of freelancing jobless geniuses who either struggle to survive, give up their dream or dish out gold for free online, hoping someone sees their worth…in a country where only 8.6% of the population have access to the internet. Point blank, you have to hustle or subscribe. This is a nation notorious for denying people without nepotist access or ass kissing lips, the opportunity to ever amount to anything.
The same goes for the large majority of the continent. For this reason, I strongly applaud open-mic sessions and the concept behind things like Project Fame. What’s better than giving people a chance to be heard? It’s not just philanthropic, it restores balance to an otherwise corrupted system…if done correctly.
What Tusker Project Fame is doing however, makes my insides gargle sick.
I hadn’t watched the show until last night, and honestly didn’t need to. A quick skim through #TPF4 hashtag on Twitter on a Sunday night and all I see is Red Flags. A lot of very frustrated viewers, a stream of bile and disappointment and a seeming consensus on the lack of deserving talent.
Why I did watch it last night is merely because I happened to be walking by the TV around the time Leah was
bellowing singing as Nazizi freestyled. Naz is a homie from waaaaaaaaaay back so I kinda had to nod and smile and then cringed and reached for a crutch when I got overpowered by the background vocals.
In all fairness, Leah’s actual performance was decent. That can’t quite be said for the rest. And would you believe, the singing is their strong suit? Given my few years working in the US music industry, if I had to pick a ‘star’ out of this group, I’d decline the task. That’s like being asked: “Which water here tastes best?”
This is not a swipe at the contestants, they are hardly responsible for their selection and what happens on the show. I refuse to believe that this is the best we have to offer as a region seeing as I’ve witnessed real talent; amazing musicians, vocalists, instrumentalists; that would stand on the world stage and make a long lasting mark. But they never made it onto TPF, and by no fault of their own.
No, there’s a greater presence at play. A presence that may just be trying hard to peddle its products in
Sudan certain countries. A presence that may be less concerned with actually tapping into local greatness than it is with tapping into local markets. Would anyone really be surprised at the end of the day if a certain lady won?
I doubt it. You can see it coming from a mile away, regrettably. What’s even more disappointing is that the sponsors and creators of the show turned the auditions into complete charades to lure in viewers as they cotton picked their selections and let the odds stack as they saw fit.
How should the selection have been made? Mercilessly. Superficially. Yes, they have to have talent, tons of it. But they must also be stars. It’s a cold, cold world out there and people will take more and more shots at you the further you rise. If you aren’t a total package, you’re wasting film, time and hard disk space. But I doubt we’re actually grooming superstars with this show: we’re just taking the gullible for a ride.
That’s not a jab at the viewers or the contestants. Just saying that at the end of the day, how many of you would go out to buy any of the current contestants’ music? How many of you see them making waves 2 years from now? How many of you think that’s the best that the whole of Eastern Africa has to offer?
I know I don’t.
Oh well, maybe next time.
Further, is this really the best production value we can muster? Honestly. Big budget and all, and this is the absolute best we can do? I was in Nakumatt the other day. A digital HD cam is stupidly cheap. Hiring a production team to handle the whole affair would be even cheaper.
Sigh. I could really go on for days about what’s wrong with this show but as far as going ‘right’, I think my list stops at ‘1.The concept’. Anything else that may be right about it, I have clearly missed and yield the floor to ye readers, that ye may advise a lost soul.