Tusker Project Fail – Season Fault

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?”

“Ian why don’t you diss the rest of the contestants so that Palek takes the title. That way, we’ll look like fair judges and the title sponsors will create a new market. We’ll be Superstars!“

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.

22 thoughts on “Tusker Project Fail – Season Fault

  1. I hope the right people are reading this. There is a way to rig a shows result but dont make it soooo obvious that EABL is trying to sell beer in South Sudan.

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  3. In all fairness ,most people find the show entertaining ,as for the rigging i don’t think with PWC on board that’s really viable.I guess as a country since our elctions were rigged we no longer believe in fair process.I loved Alpha the last winner,not only was he a brilliant singer he was also hot and i think had star power.Many people have used this show as a platform and its really unfortunate that some people want to bring it down.If you want a particular contestant to win,then i suggest you try and vote.If EABL were to rig then the most popular housemate K- deng from S.sudan would still be in the house.We miss you K-deng!!!!

    • The guy had swagger,thats why he was all over facebook,just like makmende that people like you couldn’t get what the craze was all about.

  4. Good grief aren’t you peachy! we’re not Hollywood, Tarantino isn’t the director….but we do try…Good day!….FYI, EABL and its employees don’t have a camera shift…a production outfit has actually been HIRED (endemol)

    • Oh, I’m aware. Which is why I was asking if we can’t do better.

      And of course we’re not Hollywood. But there’s this thing called globalization. You see what globalization has done is that in Kenya, we pay for american movies and music, and get ours for free. So we are competing with Hollywood no matter how you slice it. Kinda like the fastest runner in your neighborhood is probably not the guy you want to send to the olympics, these guys are probably not what I’d cosign as Regional Superstars.

  5. I don’t entirely agree with your reference from tweeps! All the same, that was their second time to get on stage! Did that hit you. Let’s compare notes at the end of the season. You really can’t compare US with Kenya now. Those people spend all their time trying to do music for quick cash while we spend through 8-4-4.

    I really admire anyone who can sing on stage. We have just started.

  6. As hilarious as ur post is, i have to side with the other paople.TPF has given many young people a platform to succeed – look at ngangalito who was a nobody before TPF,he now has his own show and is luanching his album,Hemedi from TPF2 is a big actor in TZ with an album to boot,our own Valerie Kimani recetly won an award – if u watch Studio 53 you would know all this,Caroline is also relly big in UG.So before we throw stones can we agree that TPF is the biggest thing to ever happen on the East Africa entertainment scene.If i could sing ,i would definately try out for the show,all that free publicity wouldn’t hurt.Maybe i should try out for big brother instead?

  7. To reiterate what was mentioned in the post several times: I watched the one episode only. And I never once discredited the idea of TPF. All I said is we can do a lot better than to turn this into a marketing ploy. Is it just me or does this not seem to be grooming stars? Maybe I’m completely wrong.


    Carry on.

  8. Those were harsh words icon. I think tpf has done a great job promoting local talent. Credit should b given where its due. And about u comparing us with the US, hmmm, yeah we knw you’ve been there alright, if u catch my drift.

    • Yeah. Drift caught.

      That said, show me the part where I compared anyone in the competition to anyone outside the region..or said that I could.

      If anything, I blatantly said I would be an unfit judge and the proceeded to compare them to local regional talent. Anybody will tell you I frequent everything from Blankets & Wine and Open Mics in people’s backyards to concerts and studio sessions. That’s who I compare these guys to. I look at any female vocalist there and think Maia von Lekow could best them. But maybe she’s more experienced, so I’ll bring it down a notch. Any of the finalists from last season would wreck them. Should I bring it down even lower? Fine: I heard this chick doing Karaoke at Sherlock’s Den the other night: I got her number because she was that good.

      Point I’m making is this, I watch the show and wonder if how so many local greats got overlooked. I know a kid in south b who plays 6 instruments and has the vocal range of Maxwell: how did he not make the cut? And he’s one of several. Vickie Zosi has more talent in her five foot forty kg frame than most of them do. And I’d bet on her to be a greater success anyday and twice on sunday.

      I’m pretty sure if this was fair and balanced, then even the most picky of us would have little or nothing to say at most. Even those of us who actually regularly support local music would feel encouraged to support this. And I’m all for the concept of TPF, not sure how many times I have to say that, I’m just not a fan of how this season is going. That I feel like this whole thing is staged and orchestrated should be of little concern if these guys really are the best Eastern Africa has to offer. And no one has tackled that yet. No one has stepped out to disprove it. The most I heard was that Deng had swagger and got kicked off. If you believe these are the best in Eastern Africa, raise your hand high. If not, tell me why.

      My experience in the US has little or nothing to do with any of that. But if it bothers you to a blinding point…well…yeah. Let’s just keep it at ‘show me the part where I compared the two.’

  9. I had predicted back at thome that Alpha from Rwanda would win TPF 3, it occurred to me that EABL are doing all they could to tap their market in any country that they can. South Sudan is their target this time round!!!

    Seriously speaking, I do not watch TPF(I’d rather watch some ants documentary on Discovery Channel), because there seems to be no high sense of creativity that one expects in such a programme.

  10. Did i ever mention that the contestants were the best in east africa? Or beta still did any of those artist u mentioned auditioned and were shown the door? Anyway it all comes down to opinions and i respect yours. Was just airing mine regarding yours. About the US thing, well, does ‘…given my few years working in the US music industry…’ blah!blah! ring a bell?

    • Oh, you mean “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.”

      Yep. Rings an ironic bell.

  11. I think Juve should not have been voted out of TPF 4. He has the passion for music and given time he would have made a tremendous improvement. What we have seen is TZ,UG AND Rwanda gang up for kenyan contestants.

  12. Pingback: Did Davis Deserve to Win Tusker Project Fame? « Diasporadical

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