More than singing in a Karaoke bar

04:23 by tsup ug

Naturally, when a family member is travelling, its human to get together and have one hell of a night. For me, Wednesday was one of those nights. My brother was leaving for the studies which may take years before he sets foot in the pot holed Kampala again.
For some reasons, he had always wanted me to visit some places and I had strongly resisted his sheer temptation, since this particular night was on him, he decided to do things his way and thus taking me to one of these places……. a karaoke bar.
I had never been in one and truth is I didn’t even long to enter one, but when I did, I will admit I was fully blown away.
Unlike the movie setting or our own Alligators where karaoke is about a screen, lyrics and booze, Kampala redefines the meaning.
Dancers, weird names and bar services are some of the few things to write home about a multi activity karaoke night experience in a Kampala suburb, to give this article meaning, I will tackle each of these in that order.
First the dancers; in a civilized world, karaoke would refer to a person sing lyrics of a famous song regardless of their good or bad voice. In any way, your professionalism and dancer is not called for, however, in this particular one, dance groups outnumbered the musicians in the house. They were all sorts of all-girls dance troops, well….. Did they have the moves?
It was just an issue of which dance troops shook their behinds more, it’s like these girls watch Konshens and Mr. Vegas’ videos for a living.
Weird names; Ugandan entertainment usually rhymes with weird names, think about it, our top musician is called chameleon, the other one is cool something and their other colleague is a beverage…….. Wine. Thus when two or more artistes are in the vicinity, you should expect such names.
At this karaoke bar, names came in a rather overrated gear; the MC kept calling out artistes like; Good Speed …. Wait, is this even a name? Peter left and Henry Right!! East Africa voices crew (kale Bebe Cool should hear this), High voltage, one code and Jarule … yes, that’s what he called himself.
The artistes were mostly combined in duos; they’ve actually picked lessons from Radio and Weasel. They all performed in a way where one raps and the other cries for love.
In a suspicious way; all performers were putting on shades in the night and, headsets they were not using. Their outfits were rather casual that it was easy to mistake them for the fans.
I was seated next to one of them, he seemed uncomfortable whenever I criticized a performer, kumbe he was an artiste too.
He sang about people trying to put him down and I was still condemned to that bad singing for the next three minutes, how I wished he could get a full time job.
After singing, the artistes would collect the CDs from the DJ because it’s the only copy they have, they would then be paid in drinks, most of them sang for two bottles of beer.
They actually took tips from the audience seriously; one even interrupted his own music to thank a fan.
Their song choices were from a wide range, they did songs from the famous artistes and few of their own. As you could imagine, most of their own music was mostly tailored to fit our current kidandali format.
There was this performer who declared himself Uganda’s true king of dancehall, his reason was that he sounds like the original king of the music genre; Shaggy. The guy looked like some of our artistes living in their heads, in his head; he was convinced he’s only competing against the internationally renowned Shaggy… poor guy.
However, Khalifah eventually saved the night with his Minakonda, Ekitangaza and nkwate wa. His performance was a breath of fresh air, the other artistes watched him with admiration, the same way he probably watches Chameleon on bigger concerts.
Just like many of our artistes, Khalifah too was first cut his teeth into the industry through different Karaoke bars around town.
The services; make of what you want but the services were quite a spectacle, when Khalifah suddenly recognized me as a journalist, the waitress changed and improved the way they were treating us. Cleaned the place and continuously greeted us. Then the MC asked me to tip him, mbu because am new at the place.


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