The unenforceability of the 2011 Anti-Piracy Bill
and the proliferation of digital storage devices have made poverty a permanent
companion of many talented artists in Sierra Leone.
That situation of want is the lot of Mohamed Abdulai Kamara, also known as
Medish-K, a popular musician in his eastern Freetown neighborhood of Calaba
Town whose songs are regularly featured when his local promoter, Abass Kamara,
alias DJ Basco, inundates the area with loud music. Medish-K's main source of
income is not his music, he moonlights at a local women's hair salon fixing
nails and eyebrows.
Obstacles faced by up-and-coming Sierra Leonean
artists dominated an interview with both Kamaras. They pointed to the digitization
of music that has made anti-piracy laws much harder to enforce, a charge that
is easily verifiable by the music laden USB devices now favored by most Sierra
Leoneans. Music outlets, sometimes no more than a wooden stall with a boom box
to attract customers, no longer sell cassettes or CDs, they simply charge
clients Le500.00 per song for uploads to their digital storage devices.
In addition, no matter how good the music, in Sierra
Leone, free promotional airtime on radio or television is not guaranteed. Disc
jockeys have to be cajoled, sometimes given little gifts for a musician's
product to receive airtime. So what is a Sierra Leonean musician to do to become
famous or make money?
DJ Basco's strategy is to freely distribute the
music to disc jockeys far and wide and hope that his client will receive
invitations to perform concerts. DJ Basco predicts that his client can take
home up to Le4m from each concert.
Medish-K is scheduled to perform at a big coming out
party scheduled for Feb 6, an event he has been publicizing by doing interviews
on local radio stations. DJ Basco has also been lugging his heavy stereo
equipment around the neighborhoods of eastern Freetown to draw attention to
Medish-K's music and advertise the upcoming event. But their financial
difficulties are such that they depend on donations to buy gas for the
electrical generator to power the stereo equipment.
Medish-K is the featured artist on sierraleone365
radio this week. To listen to his music and the interview, download the tunein
app and search for sierraleone365 radio.