With the unexpected announcement of the spilt between members of the popular teen outfit Camp Mulla, BONIFACE MWALII sheds some light on what led to the breakup and what this means for the artistes’ futures.
Come August this year, the trail-blazing Camp Mulla quartet were scheduled to make their stage debut in Zambia in a cross-continental tour that would have taken them to Zimbabwe and several other African countries.
In between, they would also visit Dubai and do a mini-tour of Europe in efforts to establish the outfit as the newest-kids-on-the-block in the urban African music scene. But as matters stand, this will not come to pass.
Mid last week, Camp Mulla’s record label, Sub Sahara Entertainment, issued announced the end of the group as we know it. Read part of the release: “It is true that Miss Karun is no longer with the group; she has left the group to prepare to join university in the USA in August. She’s also working on solo projects.
Another of the group’s former members, Thee Mc Africa (previously known as The Taio Tripper) is also pursuing a solo career. Both Miss Karun and Thee Mc Africa are wished all the best in their pursuits”.
The statement ended months of speculation in local entertainment circles, and just when rumours of an impending break-up had reached fever pitch. According to a source privy to events that led to the split, Miss Karun broke the news that she was no longer going to be part of the group during a meeting between the label’s management and the artistes ahead of their planned trip for the MTV Africa All Stars show held last week in Durban, South Africa.
It was after this shocking revelation that Thee MC apparently alsoresolved to quit if the sultry-voiced Karun left. As a result, the two remaining members of the group, Shappaman and Marcus were forced to perform in Durban on their own, bringing along Collo, with whom they have just released a new collabo, ‘Chafua’, as a replacement.
“No one can possibly be more disappointed than we are at this turn of events. We thought this was going to be our year,” said our source. “All the contracts we had already signed; the international collabos in the pipeline and shows lined up — all that effort is gone down the drain.”
While heartbroken fans across the continent and the dashed hopes of the entire Kenyan music fraternity might be a lot to contend with, the looming financial losses for the group’s label are expected to be huge given that they had reportedly signed several contracts to perform and even received down payments for some of the shows.
But is is not the end of the road for the group, our source said. “Miss Karun is willing to continue recording with the rest of the group and even do some solo stuff when she’s in the country for summer holidays in December.” In fact, Miss Karun is set to release her first official solo track this week which will be marketed and distributed by her former label, a sign that there’s no bad blood despite the recent events.
And as Sub Sahara’s release states “Kus Ma and Shappa still carry the Camp Mulla flag and are the new face of the group.” With the entry of Sub Sahara’s new signee, Tiri, who featured in the ‘new’ Camp Mulla collabo with Collo, time will tell what the future holds for the ‘Mulla Team’.
But even with the sulking and finger pointing surrounding the perceived demise of what could easily be ranked as Kenya’s most internationally recognisable musical outfit, the question begs; was it always just a matter of time before the group splintered?
Many say that Kus Ma (Marcus), the genius producer behind the group, was one of the reason for the split and there are reports that he brought in Tiri since she is his girlfriend. “The group stopped geling a long time ago and it was just a matter of time before they split and Karun couldn’t take it,” our source said.
As anyone close enough to any of the group’s members would attest, despite their shared affluent upbringing and circles of friends, their personalities and family backgrounds couldn’t possibly be more divergent. Critics even opined that the group was ‘manufactured’ to capture the industry’s attention therefore they could never click as individuals.
This coupled with claims that some of the group’s members were treated better than the rest allegedly contributed to their inability to connect with the majority of their Kenyan teen audience hence their failure to penetrate and dominate the local music market despite their glowing international successes.
Then there were claims that the artistes were being underpaid despite earning millions of shillings from performances within and outside the country. While the details of these secret financial arrangements may not be in the public domain, the group’s current woes further lend credence to all the speculation.
But as hip hop activist Buddha Blaze, who is credited as being one of the first to spot Camp Mulla’s potential, says “we can only be thankful that they put Kenyan music on the global radar with their BET nomination and appreciate the fantastic album they gave us.”
The real task now for each of the old and new Camp Mulla members is to prove that they have indeed got what it takes to stand on their own.