Power in double effort
In the years gone by, there existed music duos that lit up the scenes in ways that felt so special. Their disintegration, however, left bittersweet memories for many of their fans. And as Mwangi Alberto writes, there hasn’t been a better time to be alive.
Back in the day, anytime you heard American rapper and singer Ja Rule’s song play, you automatically expected it to be a collaboration with fellow singer Ashanti.
The duo seemed inseparable and their music chemistry was infectious. From 2001 when they released their first collabo single What’s Luv?, they went ahead to rock their fans with more hit jams including Always On Time, Mesmerise, Happy and Down 4 U.
Their albums and singles as solo artistes were commercially very successful, but when the two joined forces, they created instant hits, making them one of the most successful duos in the first decade of the new millennium.
It was out of their strong music chemistry that many people thought the two were lovers in real life.
But in January this year, Ashanti decided to put those rumours to rest when she insisted that the pair never dated, despite fans being convinced there was more to their relationship than hit songs.
“Our chemistry was so ill. We never messed with each other like it never was even a thing.
So, we could not see each other for months and we would be at an awards show and perform on stage and it would look like we’ve been together the whole day.
Even sometimes we would be coordinated with our outfits. It’s crazy to have that kind of chemistry with someone you’re not in a relationship with,” she said.
There were other music duos that broke the hearts of many millions of fans when they called it quits on their collabo act.
Duos such as Shaggy and Rayvon, Chaka Demus and Pliers, OutKast (Andre 3000 and Big Boi), Eric B and Rakim, and The Carpenters (Karen and Richard Carpenter) left an indelible mark on the music history books.
Ask any lover of the 80s and 90’s reggae-dancehall about their favourite duo and chances are that they will shout “Chaka Demus and Pliers!”.
The two are known for hits such as Tease Me, Murder She Wrote, Bam Bam, She Don’t Let Nobody and Help Them Lord.
Over the years in Kenya too, there has also been such moments where fans were left a disappointed lot when some of their favourite music duos decided to go separate ways, or couldn’t just release any more music.
Talk of the Longombas (Christian and Lovi), Deux Vultures (Colonel Moustapha and Nasty Thomas), Cannibal and Sharama, K-South (Abbas Kubaff and Bamboo) and Amos and Josh.
Others include Gidi Gidi Maji Maji (Joseph Ogidi and Julius Owino), The Bugz (Bobby Mapesa and VBO), Wyre and Nazizi and Zakah and Kah.
Many fans were also devastated when rapper E-Sir died in 2003, way too early in his explosive music career, and adding to the electrifying music chemistry he shared with singer and Ogopa Deejays labelmate Nameless.
Many music fans in Kenya still yearn to feel the vibe from some of these groups, and maybe they shall in future as Josh of the Amos & Josh (AJ) duo tells Spice.
“AJ is so much alive. We’ve gone through an intense season of rediscovery and being re-energised. The dream is back on course; new, free, purposeful sound in mission.
On June 1, this year, we’ll be doing an online showcase (#ReImagineAJ) and that will answer in regards to what people can expect,” says Josh.
He adds that the duo’s strength is that the two singers are part of the same family.
“We can be different as individuals, but the vision of our family is our strength. That is our church, friends and fans.
They helped us as individuals and as a group regain our compass. Big shout out to our bishop and life coach Welly Odendo, Life Pool Chapel fraternity and every AJ fan still alive,” he says.
On his part, Moustapha says nothing is too late to be done, as far as having Deux Vultures getting back in the game.
“You can’t say someone cannot do this or that; as long as they are alive and kicking, anything is possible. I miss those moments too,” he says.
During his recent visit to Kenya, ex-Longombas duo member Lovy said it would be so hard for him to perform even an acapella to any of their hit songs, since the half member of the dynamic duo is no more. This was due to Christian’s demise on March 13, this year.
“I cannot sing. We (himself and Christian) used to be tight. I just can’t imagine performing without him.
We were a team,” he said during an interview on Bonga Na Jalas YouTube channel.
In 2015 (10 years after K-South went their separate ways), former member Abbas gave a ray of hope to their fans that the group would hit back when least expected.
“At times you have to sit back, survey and then strike with a bang,” he said. However, this is yet to be realised, seven years later, but Abbas is still keeping at it as an individual.
Bamboo has since seen the light and also concentrates on his solo acts as a gospel rapper.
Legendary music producer Tedd Josiah, who has since intimated that he has already given up pursuing any music interests, told Spice that music duos (or groups in general) disintegrate when the individual members discover personalities within themselves that sometimes clash with the other member.
“So, they decide to go separately, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone going solo.
It is not something that only affects the Kenyan urban music industry, it happens everywhere.
Sometimes it is much easier to write alone because of the differences that arise for instance beliefs, economics and sometimes ego. So, it has to do with a lot,” he said in conclusion.