Big tune: The art of hit making
Posted Saturday, November 24 2012 at 23:05
- Entertainers spend every waking day of their lives trying to come up with the next big thing that will ensure they remain ahead of their competitors
- Curiously, while some musicians seem to constantly be churning monster hit after hit, others are yet to crack this secret to instant stardom. So just what does it take to make a hit song?
In show business, they say you are only as big as your last hit.
And thus it is that entertainers spend every waking day of their lives trying to come up with the next big thing that will ensure they remain ahead of their competitors.
Some get it right, most never do. Hence the lopsided ratio of celebrities to upstarts.
Curiously, while some musicians seem to constantly be churning monster hit after hit, others are yet to crack this secret to instant stardom. So just what does it take to make a hit song?
If there’s anyone who would know anything about hits, it would have to be Red Republik’s big shot, Madtraxx.
With a string of chart toppers that include songs like “Boda Boda”, “Get Down” and more recently, “Skamares”, the burly rapper cum producer surely must be doing something right.
But according to the self-christened Super Producer, Super MC, “anyone who says they have a formula to making a hit song is lying. There is no such thing.” He adds, “there are so many factors that determine how a song will be received and these are dependent on so many variables.”
However, Genge music’s self proclaimed Godfather, rapper Nonini begs to differ. With over a decade of experience in the music industry and numerous hits and awards to show for it, the rapper argues that in order to remain at the top, one has to understand their territory and conquer it.
Sieve through dirt
“I never step out of the recording booth unless I’m sure that what I’ve done is nothing but the best,” he confidently confides. “Consistency is key and so I always try to ensure that by the time my song leaves the studio, it is already a hit.”
For Sauti Sol, a different rule applies. Arguably Kenya’s leading boy band, the globe trotting quartet have won the hearts of music lovers from Kenya to Croatia through trial and error.
“We have recorded hundreds of songs most of which have never been played or performed in public,” says Delvin Mudigi. “But out of all those we select the one’s we feel would have the biggest impact and more often than not, they turn out to be hits.”
Pioneering Kenyan musician Nameless, famed for hits such as “Ninanoki” and “Juju” concurs. “Making a hit song is like digging for gold in the dirt. You have to sieve through a lot of dirt to get the gold. What’s most important however is realising that as an artiste you rarely make music for yourself. Instead it’s a combination of having the right song with the proper timing and banking on a bit of luck that the audience will respond positively to it.”
Conversely, when Jaguar released “Kigeugeu”, he had little expectation of the song. “I expected my other song “Nikuskize” to do better than any of the other songs I had at the time,” said the philanthropic rapper. “Its success caught me by surprise but at the same time I had put a lot of myself into the song and it was quite rewarding to see it so well received.”
The single went on to become one of the most celebrated Kenyan songs in recent years earning the singer a new status as the top dog in the business and numerous accolades in the process.
Pint sized songstress Size 8 struggled for many years as an upcoming artiste signed to the Calif Records stable but when she jumped ship and went solo, her fortunes changed almost instantly.
While the response to her previous releases had been rather lukewarm, her first release as an independent artiste, “Fire”, saw her rise to become one of the most celebrated female and overall musicians in the country.
“When you are true to yourself and your music, the fans respond and connect with you,” she advises. “I gave that song my all and it was evident in the way my vocals sounded, the lyrics and even the way I performed it.”