Up-and-coming artists music lovers should know  

01Sep 2021
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Up-and-coming artists music lovers should know  

​​​​​​​BEYOND popular musicians in Tanzania's music industry and other well-known entertainers, there are little-known artists with talent that could catch the country's music enthusiasts' eye.

New genre artist, Jane Masha, nicknamed 'Neash'.

We all have a favourite artist, who just always gets it right when it comes to twisting our feelings and emotions in tune with the melodies and rhythms, but then what is music if one does not explore different sounds from different artists?

Is there a music enthusiast that wants to listen to more artists but he or she hardly knows where to begin?

A music follower can begin with these five up-and-coming domestic artists that are waiting for the music follower to press 'play' on their songs and be transported into a different world of music.

MEX

Simantha Manimendra, professionally known as 'Mex Cortez', is a Dar es Salaam-born and raised rapper, who originates from Sri Lanka.

Known for his ability to rap interchangeably in both English and Swahili, and impeccable lyrical ability, he is undoubtedly one of the best Hip Hop artists in Tanzania.

While growing up, he was a huge fan of Tanzanian Hip Hop artist, 'One The Incredible', and a prominent US rapper, Eminem, who both greatly influenced his lyricism and flow.

Mex began writing raps in Swahili and then decided to give English raps a try as a result of being influenced by foreign artists.

This in turn led him to employ both languages in rapping and many, including popular members of the country's music industry, have him hailed as a top lyricist.

He started his journey by releasing music and sharing it with friends and also sold CDs in festivals.

He has performed in several places including a festival, known as 'Nyama Choma Festival', and in events that took place at venues including Alliance France and The Lounge in Dar es Salaam.

He initially started doing hardcore rap music but expanded his genre to Afro-beats, R&B, and soft rap and is currently experimenting on rapping in Sinhala (Sri Lankan language).

Expressing who he would like to work with, he stated: “I want to work with Ruby. She has a powerful, mesmerizing voice that would go so well with my songs.''

''Other artists in Tanzania that I have always wanted to collaborate with, I have them on my album. That is 'A.Y', 'Nikki Mbishi' and 'G.Nako' to name but a few.''

Commenting on what he would like to change in the music industry, he said: “More Hip Hop labels need to exist in Tanzania. They are there but they are not mainstream. Most labels in Tanzania sign singers and entertainers but we need to make the Hip Hop scene grow and be heard.”

Mex’s lyricism has led him to receive collaborations from the industry's prominent musicians such as 'A.Y' and 'Fid Q', 'One The Incredible' and also has got cosigns from top Hip Hop artists such as Khaligraph Jones from Kenya.

His bilingual rap style found itself to the likings of legendary Hip Hop artist, 'Cassidy', who added Mex’s song 'Barbender 3' on his mixtape 'Who Got Bars VOL. 2.'

His upcoming debut studio album, 'Monsoon Winds', includes hotshot tracks from prominent artists like 'A.Y', 'G.Nako' of 'Weusi' music group, and 'Wakazi'.

The musician has also worked with international artists like Gemma Griffiths from Zimbabwe who dropped a track, known as 'Last Friday'.

 

MJB

Mjuni Benard Matovu, known professionally as 'MJB', is a rapper hailing from Mbezi, Dar es Salaam.

He was born in March 1996, to a father, who was responsible for some of his early encounters with music.

His grandfather, Gration Matovu, was the first Tanzanian soccer referee to be renowned by FIFA.

He has always felt like music was his calling because, since he was a child, he would always try to create music by freestyling on the school bus, when he was aged six, and singing along to songs.

He began recording tracks on his sister’s laptop when he was young and later, he and a friend created a band called 'Aloha', which was active for a year and later faced demise due to the youngsters' integrations with the school.

After he was done with high school in 2016, he decided to pursue his music career full-time.

His parents became divorced and the young boy resorted to doing music to escape reality.

The parents' separation gave him, even more, drive to pursue his music career since he had a lot of pain to release and music was the best tool.

In 2016, he dropped his debut long-playing vinyl record, titled 'Zone', which got him reviewed by a radio station Trace FM and the artist was invited in a music program, 'The Weekend Chat Show', hosted by one of Dar es Salaam radio stations.

The musician performed at the '5Selekt' events, Oasis, Culture Days in International Schools, and a festival, 'Onja Onja Festival'.

He then dropped his album, titled 'Mfalme wa Mbezi', which won him more viewership, and then he dropped extended play records 'EPs', titled 'Zero Sun' and 'Phenomenal', and a mixtape called 'Mbezi Night'. He has also organized his show known as 'SoundCloud Night'.

MJB has expressed his want of creating a new genre of music by fusing different genres into one. He describes his music as Rap, Afro-beats, and a little bit of R&B.

He hopes to collaborate with the likes of 'A.Y', 'Mwana FA', 'T.I.D' and 'Diamond Platnumz' in Tanzania and South African 'Nasty C' and Nigerian Burna Boy.

He pointed out: “Up-and-coming musicians should not give up. Sometimes they will face challenges like not having money for studio sessions or an investor will try to change their vision for business purposes but they should do not forget why they are doing what they are doing.''

In the next five to ten years, he expects to have millions of fans jamming to his music and he hopes to change different lives through his music.

NEASH

Jane Masha, a.k.a 'Neash', is an up-and-coming musician from Dar es Salaam. Born from a family of four, 'Neash' was exposed to music at a young age where her mother was a gospel singer and her late sister was an Afro-soul fanatic who used to play the songs often at home. Her brother wrote rap songs and asked her to perform them with him.

She moved to Uganda for studies and was exposed to different Ugandan veteran artists, who impressed her, namely Irene Namubiru, Juliana Kanyomozi, Joseph Mayanja 'Chameleone', and Radio & Weasel.

She has always been passionate about music, singing along to different existing music until her friends suggested she join the music industry.

After completing her studies, she came back to Tanzania and got in touch with the producer, Steve Kings, where she started releasing a series of songs titled 'The Unspoken' during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The songs centered around helping people speak their minds against the naysayers and unleash hidden emotions. The singles include 'Cup of Love' and 'Sogea Karibu na Mimi.'

She proceeded to compete in 'The Good Vibes' competition, hosted by legendary Tanzanian singer Judith Wambura 'Lady Jaydee', she was announced as the competition's winner.

Neash describes her music as Trap-Soul, Afro-Soul, Rap, and R&B. Her dream collaborators include Vanessa Mdee, Turunesh, and Yemi Alade from Nigeria.

She is also a TedX speaker where she took part in the 2021 TedX 'The Bigger Picture and talked about how she feels that music is the big picture for her.

She participated in the Infinix 2021 competition where she came out among the top 10 among hundreds of competitors and walked away with a brand new phone.

Music is not the only thing she is venturing in as she is also an actress and she was in the movie 'Binti', directed by Seko Shamte, and the series 'We Men' by Maximilian Rioba.

According to the artist, music is, to her, art and she believes that music is the best way for an individual to express himself.

She urges other upcoming artists to 'just go for it, because an individual's music may be a reason someone expresses themselves freely.

V.I.C

Victor Johannson, nicknamed 'V.I.C', which stands for 'Vision Is Clear', is a multi-genre artist from Dar es Salaam.

The artist began his musical journey by freestyling in his classroom with friends and eventually decided to make his complete projects.

His music is a mixture of rap, soft rap, pop, afro-pop, neo-soul, and dark R&B.

He was heavily inspired by American musician, Drake, and his emotion-infusing style of music, and US musician Ne-Yo’s vocalizing abilities.

In Tanzania, he admires acclaimed singer 'Ben Pol' and new artist Damian Soul who, according to the artist, has one of the best vocals in Tanzania.

He issued his opinion on the current state of the music industry in Tanzania, noting: ''The industry has to wake up and realize that there is new music being released every day, different types of music, that people would love to hear if they were being pushed by the media and the industry itself.''

He believes that if promising musicians are given the platform, they could excel on the scene.

He has released several EPs, which he has uploaded to SoundCloud, such as 'Endless Night' and 'Overtime' which have earned him more than 10,000 plays combined.

He has not yet been able to perform in big events and festivals but hopes to showcase his abilities on the 'Sauti za Busara' stage.

The musician pointed out: ''It is a dream of mine to perform at 'Sauti za Busara', simply because there are many people from different cultures getting together to celebrate music and art and also sharing it among each other. It’s also a platform that involves artists of many many genres that I’d love to hear.''

He urges other emerging artists to not be swayed from their vision by the business of labels.

“Artists should be able to stay true to their craft and stick to their visions and goals. Always have fun when making your art and enjoy it,” V.I.C revealed.

Apart from making music, V.I.C is a good impersonator, mimicking the voices of famous people like US musician Jay Z and he also does comedy. Acting is also something he likes to do.

His single, titled 'Finer', an Afro-pop produced by Blaq Beats will soon be available on all platforms and he is also featured in Mex Cortez’s album titled 'Monsoon Winds' which is out now exclusively on Bandcamp.

Leysir Brown

Leila Siraji, a.k.a 'Leysir Brown', is a singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, and voiceover artist.

She began singing as a child after being influenced by movie and cartoon soundtracks she saw on TV and did covers and sing-alongs to the songs.

She decided to start writing her music and, in 2017, she began her career as a singer by releasing her first audio, 'Usinitende', an R&B song that talks about love and betrayal which she wrote in 2015. In the same year, she released her first video of the same song.

As a songwriter, she has written for upcoming artist, 'Chazz Barton, and acclaimed R&B artist 'Ben Pol' for his song 'Bado Kidogo'.

She was featured in the fan-favourite single, 'Chibonge', by artist, 'Marioo', featuring 'G.Nako' and 'Byter Beast'.

She was also featured in a song titled 'Sina Chuki' by upcoming producer, Mpeula.

Leysir’s music cuts across R&B, Slow Jams, and raps. She can also sing in English, Korean, and Indian.

When she started university, she stopped all music-related issues to focus solely on her studies but now she is finished with school, she is back again with new energy and believes she is going to deliver tenfold of what she already has.

She would love to collaborate with the likes of Vanessa Mdee, 'Lady JayDee', 'Mwana F.A' and 'Weusi, and internationally with US artists, Chris Brown and Bruno Mars, Nigerian artists, Davido, and Tiwa Savage.

She feels that the industry right now is focused solely on topics about love, sex, and money, noting: ''I wish things would go back to how they used to be in terms of a song’s message.''

''The industry today in Tanzania caters more to topics of body shapes, sex and all that to attract the audience leaving others who try to release educative messages through their music looking old-fashioned.”

She states that people have always tried to doubt her dreams. ''Most people laugh when I always say my dreams but what harm does it do for a girl to dream?''.

She believes anyone can achieve what they want and it all begins with a dream.

Currently, she is about to release a song titled 'Single Mama' which is centered on bringing to light the struggles and hardships of single mothers.

The artist pointed out: “It is a powerful song with a powerful message but still very much enjoyable and fun so stay tuned.”