Written by Hadi Bah    PDF Print E-mail
For some artists of Sierra Leone, penury is part of the repertoire
News - Society

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.

medishObstacles 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.