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A Classic in the Making – Fid Q

22 May 2006 No Comment

It’s a wet day in Dar-Es-Salaam today, the Saturday traffic is buzzing as usual, congestion, horns are blaring, near misses, Chaos! Im calmly negotiating through the maze of Daladalas (Private minibuses that are central to the local transport network in Dar-Es-Salaam) and SUVs making my way to Bongo Records studios! The occasion? Exclusive Listening Session for Fid Q’s long awaited and much anticipated debut album aptly titled ‘Vina Mwanzo, Kati na Mwisho’.

I’m running late, but Fid isn’t. He’s been waiting for me for the past 45 minutes. He is on time! Saturday morning! Surely a rare thing for Artists/superstars! But Fid Q doesn’t carry himself like one. Humble, soft-spoken and down to earth. He meets me at the gate, smiling, he doesn’t seem bothered by my lateness, apologies are in order though. Within minutes we are in the building with P-Funk, better known under his new moniker ‘Majani’. We go way back, I’ve always known him as P. That aggressive young kid with passion and hunger for Hiphop. Hugs are exchanged and we are ushered into the studio. There is no-one here today. It’s early, plus its an Exclusive session!

PFunk steps on the board and cues in the Intro track to Fid Q’s album. It’s difficult to describe the vibe at the studio. Fid is seating next 2me quiet. Poker faced. Expressionless! Pfunk lights up the herb, crunks up the volume a few notches, gets the decibels right and my ears are met by an eerie sound with a sinister dark loop, A sweet female voice narrates Fid Q’s childhood years, the humble beginnings of being raised by his grandma, deep and heart-rendering rendition, an echo, a slight pause then the drums kick in and Fid Q’s opening lines fill the room! As expected, an instant surge of adrenaline!. This is what Hiphop’s been missing! This is how you open up an album. The track is ‘August 13’ it features Juma Nature and Salama Jay. And it gets better, track after track, song after song. A deep introspective song follows. ‘Mwanangu’ is the title. It features Banana Zorro. Fid is talking to his son in a dream, a deep song. ‘Kadi na Ua Rose’ features lady JayDee and its not your average love song. No filler tracks here, I quickly learn. The track listing isn’t finalised yet. There’s almost enough material for two solid albums. It’s not clear which songs will make the album at this point (And Fid tells me he’s recording two more. One which will bear the album title and another one ‘Unanijua au Unanisikia’ which is set to feature the Heavyweight Mc himself-Prof Jay). The latter track is stirring up a serious buzz, as fans of both artists’ have been anticipating a collaboration between these two, since Fid Q dropped those 8bars on an interlude in Jay’s current album ( J.O.S.E.P.H).

One thing that really sticks out is the production on this album. This is Vintage Pfunk! The monotonous 2 step drums and endless strings are replaced by boom-bap, dry drums and snares with sinister dark loops. This is the sound that Hiphop enthusiasts have been starved of.. This isn’t Bongoflava, this is Classic Hiphop. There are guest appearances from big names (Sugu, Mandojo, Juma Nature, Lady JD and more), but even better there are some up and coming artists like Magazijuto (who delivers an incredible verse on ‘Utaua Bendi’). Fid is the star on this album though. He holds his own with his witty and thoughtful punchlines embedded deep within his complex rhyme structure. The multi-syllabic rhyme scheme is the embryo of this album (hence the new album title). Every song and every verse carries an element of this. Its like listening to a Rakim album in 1989! This scientific approach in his rhyme creation is what separates Fid from the artists of today. No corny lines in here. Even when he’s being playful with the punches, he’s still thought-provoking…

"Maisha ni kama kioo, ukiyachekea nayo yanacheka, na hii mipaka bila uhuru Afrika ni Utumwa wa kifikra, unataka ufe kijerumani uanguke una tai shingoni,au mchagga anayeshinda na njaa na pesa anayo mfukoni"…

This album is what I call ‘Quotable Heaven. Every other line is worthy of a Quote. He continues..

‘Maneno yangu mimi ni ya moto na mdomo wangu hauna Friji,yanatoka bila kuyapooza,unajiuliza niliyameza vipi’

‘Huyu jamaa anaitwa muda,hana urafiki na binadamu,atakukosesha mavumba kama hauko on time, amenyaye kwa mdomo sikuzote haishi kutema, Asante Mungu kwa sauti hii ya Busara leo nasema,’… And more and more.

We finally get to the end of the album and all I can do is shake his hand and congratulate him for bringing Hiphop back. What more can I say? Am I surprised? Not really, I half expected this. But I must say, I didn’t know how deep into the dungeons of Hiphop he’d gone! There’s an interlude to be done and Pfunk has the beat ready. Fid decides to get on the booth and wrap it up! He mumbles some lines to himself and tells Pfunk to cue him in! Wow! Just like that? I ask, ‘Yep’ say P, ‘Just like that’. Fid Goes in, ?Mic levels are adjusted and sure enough he spits 8 vicious bars in one take! He peeks out of the booth and asks Pfunk for his opinion, P okays it. Few backing vocals and it’s a wrap indeed! Just like that? Bongo5 Forum – Bongo5 Joomlaboard Forum Component version: 1.1.2 Stable Generated: 18 May, 2006, 11:30 Pfunk laughs and says, ‘that’s Fid’s style’. Incredible work ethics. Im sitting there staring in disbelief.

It’s a few hours later and im driving back reflecting on what I’ve just witnessed. A classic in the making. The big question is are the true fans of Bongo Hiphop ready for this kid? I guess that’s the million dollar question. Every single he’s put out so far has been explosive. He’s been on more tours this year than known Artists with few albums under their belt. All this on the strength of 3 singles that he’s put out over the years. A remarkable achievement.

‘Im ready’ remarks Fid when I meet him later that evening at Rose Garden ( a nice hang-out spot in Kijitonyama/Mikocheni area of Dar-Es-Salaam). Its been a 3 year trek. He wants his fan to have the chance to listen to the record now. He still writes daily he tells me. He sits in a Dark room by himself, constructing what many have come to accept as ‘deadly bars’ of rhymes. ‘Is there going to be a follow up to the album’?, I ask, Fid smiles, pauses for a few seconds and shrugs his shoulders, ‘we’ll see’. He’s not sure about that. He only planned to do one album. So he poured his whole heart into it. ‘The scene is disappointing’ he retorts. Distribution issues, bootlegging, copyright issues, ownership of masters for the recordings etc. He’s facing the same issues that all the other artists are facing. ‘It would be different if we as Artists’ controlled the market. I’d do an album a week!’ He laughs. ‘Its like 8 to 10 songs an album right? I’ll be submitting one album a week most definitely’! But unfortunately, the widely Asian-businessmen dominated music industry, leaves no room for such talents to better their lives. The marketing is totally out of the artists’ reach. I understand exactly where Fid and many artists are coming from. This is a God given talent. You could never duplicate these skills. No institution could ever manufacture such raw talent, and yet all there is from this game currently is Fame without Fortune for the most part. A challenge for the new Government perhaps? No one knows.

Its approaching midnight and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. With a flight to catch at 5AM next morning its time to part ways with this Lyrical Giant. I ask him one last question that im sure he’s had to respond to over a zillion times. ‘When is the album dropping?’, ‘Soon’ he replies casually. ‘I mean it this time’ he adds on. ‘I’m working on the album cover’, he offers. That helps. Things have moved on indeed. I give him a Dap and wish him luck in his heavy responsibility of bringing HipHop back home. He nods his head, appears thoughtful like an idea just popped in his head, then abruptly turns round and fades into the Dar Night….

PS: At Press time, Fid Q’s debut album (Vina Mwanzo, Kati na Mwisho) was slated for June 2006 release. For more information on Fid Q write to Xtrapensive@hotmail.co.uk

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