Tanasha Donna is what I love most about Kenya – Diamond Platinumz
Last weekend, the Naivasha Love Festival teamed up with Koroga Festival and featured Tanzania’s Lope hit maker Diamond Platinumz as one of the headlining artistes for the two-day affair. GRACE WACHIRA caught up with him
You obviously have a soft spot for Kenya. What stands out for you and keeps you visiting 254?
First of all, (smiles), Tanasha Donna is what I love most about Kenya. But beyond having friends and people that I call family here. I enjoy the peace and harmony that Kenya has. Kenya is a great place.
Now that you frequent here, are you getting in studio soon with one of our own or are there already upcoming collabo projects that you have lined up for us?
Yes I would love to do more collabos and yes, I have already gotten into studio with Kenyan artistes and projects will be rolled out. You know, sometimes, we as artistes are busy and our schedules are hectic, so getting time to work the music out together is a challenge itself.
But that said, there are very many artistes from here that I would love to make music with. I do not discriminate; good music is good music and collabos excite me.
You consistently produced hit after hit and yet, you still run a business and are a family man. How do you strike the balance in all your trades?
As a fulltime artiste, I have learnt how to respect my job. The same way people leave their homes and head to their places of work like a clock is the way I treat my job that is music. I respect my craft and take entertainment seriously and as such, I have a dedicated management team in place that ensures I get the work done. That way, I can juggle all the other parts of my life with ease.
You’ve mentioned the role management plays. Wasafi Records has over the years signed artistes and honed their skills until they have left the fold. How do you ensure there is smooth transmission for the artistes without scandals?
At Wasafi, we go all out for a signee. That means we ensure they get the best videos and video quality, promote their music and utilise our budget extensively until they attain their maximum creative levels.
It is selfish to sign artistes under labels because of competition. Failure to push their brands out there makes artistes’ careers take dives by the time their contracts end.
We push our Wasafi artistes, and when they leave, they are still felt and relevant and the musical mileage they gained gives them a safe landing.
See the bigger picture and look at employing people in music as well. The industry is not kind to selfish artistes.
A lot of the times, artistes cite that music does not pay and have music as second jobs. How were you able to monetise your music since music for you is your bread and butter?
Diamond as a brand has standards. These are standards that I have set for myself because I know what I am worth and know what I deliver. I have rules of engagement and because art is easy to take lightly, I have strict principles in place over the years.
When an artiste is readily available to the public and is easy to get, the market lowers their standards. I for example, do not accept some deals because of the money.
If it does not meet clauses in my contract, I forfeit them. We have to move away from the practices back then. Availing yourself too much waters you down and you cannot have bargaining power.
I will not lie to you, YouTube has also given me good money and when I look at the views, the bulk of the viewership is from Kenya. That tells you Kenyans can support music so it depends on how you brand yourself and maintain your standards.
We all know Khaligraph Jones as the best rapper in Africa and we accept it. He has already set his bar.
We currently have a new sound in Kenya; Gengetone. Have you heard it?
Yes I have and I think it is pretty good.
What do you think about artistes jumping in on popular sounds considering you have time and again produced music with different sounds and still maintained popularity?
Well, first I think, understanding the market is important. If the new sound is what sells, go for it. But that said, even when I change ship once in a while and have a new feel in my music, I think beyond my country. I do not take the sound I am working on lightly and so when I get into studio, I churn music for international audiences.
It is sad to just produce music for local consumption. Package the sound and deliver across the borders. I bet Gengetone if well packaged can easily transcend Kenyan boundaries. It could be the sound that puts Kenya on the map just as Bongo did.
Some of your songs have been banned in your country and in Kenya. What are your thoughts on that?
For starters, I respect the government and countries’ leadership when they see it fit to ban music.
They are trying to safeguard and maintain morality and culture. I, however, hope they do not completely cap the music but instead, restrict it to certain places like clubs or appropriate watershed hours or even to YouTube.
The West produce love songs that are allowed to air on our local media but when we do the same, we receive the bans. It should be across the board. We cannot sing love making songs like a hymn, for example, and we still need to express that because we mirror the society.
Each song has its place and a few restrictions are better than complete bans. That does not mean we hate the government; personally, I respect authority and they are really just doing their job.