CELEB BUZZ: Is Redsan overrated?

Saturday September 29 2018

Dancehall artiste Swabri Mohamed, popularly known as Redsan. PHOTO | COURTESY

Dancehall artiste Swabri Mohamed, popularly known as Redsan. PHOTO | COURTESY 

PHILIP ETEMESI
By PHILIP ETEMESI
More by this Author

There was a time in my life when I used to think I could be an artiste. This was during my high school days. Silly me!

I blame this on my friend Dan, who still does music to this day. He used to say I looked like a star – the greatest lie I have ever been told. Why don’t friends ever tell us the truth?

He could have just been honest and told me I look like a nerdy writer then I could have gotten serious with this writing business early enough. Maybe by now I’d be having a New York Times bestselling book.

Anyway, so together, we had created group called Fire Boyz. We used to remix songs of popular artistes just for fun then perform them during funkies.

I used to like dancehall music a lot at that time, so one day we decided to do a remix of a local dancehall song – Redsan’s “Akitaka Apakatwe”.

Bad idea! You see, trying to sound like Redsan is like expecting Bifwoli Wakoli to say ‘charger’ instead of ‘charcher’ or ‘Joseph’ instead of ‘Chosef’. It’s just impossible.

That day, we jumped onto the stage in front of all these girls from different schools. We were sure we were going to kill it but the only thing we killed was our clout.

Just a few seconds into us trying to sound Jamaican, lyrics evaporated from our heads. It was panic mode from there. We tried to fix in a few words like “Mi hafi do this!” and “Ya don know!” but things only got more absurd.

CAREER

The expected reaction followed. People laughed uncontrollably.

It was a disaster. It was embarrassing. It was the end of my musical career.

I thank God for that day because it changed my vector and made me start a journey towards what I was really born to do – writing.

Kenyan dancehall artiste Redsan performs during the Extravaganza Concert at Cabanas Grounds in Nairobi on September 6, 2014. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenyan dancehall artiste Redsan performs during the Extravaganza Concert at Cabanas Grounds in Nairobi on September 6, 2014. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Speaking of Redsan, he is one of the few artistes I respect to this day, mostly due to him having played a part as a pioneer in the industry.

Many people like him too but does he really reciprocate the fan love with good music? I don’t think so.

During a recent interview with SDE, he was asked why he had disappeared from the music scene for such a long time before resurfacing a few months ago and this is what he said:

“I realised every time I released a song, it became the biggest in the industry and there was no competition for me. So, I decided to chill and do my work on the low.”

Haha! Such boastfulness! His words could have been cool if they were stuffed with truth but they aren’t. Like when Mayweather says he’s the best, his bragging doesn’t offend you because it’s true.

SONGS

But not all of Redsan’s songs are hits and the fact is that there is more competition in the industry now more than ever.  

I think we just love Redsan because of the whole package and aura, not the artistry. There are artistes who don’t always deliver musically but people like them because of how they present themselves. Akothee and King Kaka are good examples.

For a long time Redsan has been viewed as an artiste with no blemishes. Men have adored him for his macho stature while his looks have netted him some serious cachet among women.

One female radio presenter even voiced her disappointment when he referred to her as ‘’my sister” during an interview. She’d have preferred to be addressed with a term that meant she had a chance.

But have we always assumed that he is good because of the few kosher hits he gave us back when we were young? If you take your good ol’ time to analyse Redsan’s catalogue, you’ll quickly realise that it isn’t solid at all. 

His last major hit song was “Shoulder Back”, which was released more than two years ago. What has he been doing since then?

The only other notable songs that he has released in between then and now are “Whine Fi Mi” and “Not Normal”. Those two failed to take off and their numbers on YouTube give enough evidence of that.

Dancehall artiste Redsan performs during “The Wave” concert held at the Ngong Racecourse Waterfront Gardens on September 9, 2017. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

Dancehall artiste Redsan performs during “The Wave” concert held at the Ngong Racecourse Waterfront Gardens on September 9, 2017. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

'NOT THE BADDEST'

His new album has a few ‘okay’ songs but it is ultimately a little aimless. It’s a painfully wearisome fusillade of try-too-hard tunes. I am pretty sure that many Kenyans haven’t even listened to it.

Redsan was on fire in the 2000s but since the start of the 2010s, he has only had like five major hit songs. This says a lot about his work ethic. Especially when you compare him to his veteran peers like Jua Cali, Nameless and Wyre, especially Wyre.

People like to make comparisons between Redsan and Wyre because they are the only two successful dancehall artistes in Kenya. In reality, there are no comparisons to be made. Wyre is miles ahead. Wyre releases a new hit song almost every two months. He has been doing that for the past 16 years. Redsan hasn’t.

I respect Redsan for the longevity and the ability to effortlessly sound like he was born in the same hospital as Konshens but the hype around him is sometimes excessive and unjustifiable.

His lyrics are nothing other than zingy nebulousness, perennial bragging and braggadocious passive-aggression. There is nothing of any real substance or depth. In addition to that, his music is the same thing every time – retreaded sounds, clichéd lines, and endless inanities.

Redsan is great but he’s not ‘the baddest.’ Let’s not over-praise him. He’s a respectable veteran but he’s not the best to ever do it.

To put it even better, he is like a soldier who fought bravely in Vietnam and did a lot for his country but he’s not Rambo.

Advertisement