Born Sylvester Munanjala Jr, Silverman Zambia is a 21 year old Hip Hop Musician with two singles on the market. He is also a dancer and model.
He says he wants to take Zambian Music which is not known even in the African continent out of the doldrums. He has therefore “zambianized” hip hop.
His two singles, “Dance with you (Feat Neo) and LSK ate selling on various websites across the world and his fame is fast and music are picking up a loyal following around the world.
So what makes him tick? How do you “zambianize” Hip hop?
Silverman Zambia has been explaining this and much more to Francis Ngwa Niba.
Q Why Hip hop?
I sing hip hop simply because it is what inspires me. Hip hop is what I like over all genres of music. I can do RnB but I prefer Hip hop because, I am much more confortable singing it, it does it for me, I like it
Q Some critics will say that is not African music, hip hop is American
I should say that the kind of Hip hop I do is what I call Zip hop; I have given it that name because it is a combination of American hip hop and Zambian Hip hop. When I say Zip hop, I am saying you make the song ninety percent in English (English being a universal language) and ten percent in the local language or you add some local instruments in the song so that you make it local; so you are making international music in a local rhythm. I therefore do hip hop in an African way. Some people will say why Hip hop and not Zambian music; well if you check out any billboard, American music is topping around the world. You cannot compare it with any other kind of music. If we want to be on the billboard chart and be recognized, we need to do something close to what they are doing but also unique in its own way. You make the same thing different. That is what I am doing.
Q And what will be your response to claims you are a copycat artist, some people will just not take you seriously
Oh no, we all learn from something. No man is an island. No one does something out of nowhere. We learn from each other and add something to that knowledge to become better. I am therefore not a copy cat. I am original in that I bring in something different. Zip hop is original . I am sure you have not heard of any American or British doing Zip hop, that is doing Hip hop in their language and adding international standards…
Q I will still hold you on this, you have taken Hip hop and “Zambianized” it, you just added some local language there and gave it a different name
Yes, that is why we say it is being artistic, we just make an international tune but we also localized it to suit our given context.
Q And the problem with originality?
What is being original mean? If we sing everything in local langauges, a lot of people will not undestand and will not even listen. The idea to add English is so that a lot of poeple can understand what we are saying
Q You are still very young, just 21, you have two singles on the market, can we talk about those songs?
Yes, I have two singles on the market. The first one is called “Dance with you”.It is a feat with Neo. The song talks about a guy who goes to a club and meets this beautiful lady. He likes her a lot and wants to get to know the girl better but because so many people are around, he does not know how to get to know her. He then decides that the best way is to ask her for a dance. This is really a true story because it happened to me. The setting was really not a club but a home party. I went there, saw this beautiful girl, asked for a dance and got to know her. I got inspired by that to write the song. The second song is LSK Swag, LSK stands for Lusaka. Swag is the feeling of confidence one has about his whole person and place of origin. Our self confidence comes from the cloths we wear, the money in your pocket and having your friends and kids around you. LSK swag is the confidence I have as a Zambian and being born in our great capital city. When people come to Lusaka, they want to see the things that the city offers, I feel proud to be part of this great city
Q Why do you have just two songs on the market
My music career is made up of a lot of twists and turns. I wrote my first song in 2005 when I was in secondary school. I formed a small tripartite group (three man group) The group was called K’side. We wrote some songs but no matter how hard we tried, we could not record. This was partly due to our weak financial strenght. Then when we finally did get the necessary money, the record company tricked us, we paid for the songs but the company failed to keep up to their commitments. I then left that group in 2007. I kept writing more songs but again still failed to record. In 2012, I wrote “Dance with you” which was finally recorded more than seven years after I started writing songs. The song was appreciated around and is now carried by a couple of websites. I also have only two songs because I have had to combine, school and work and that can be hard to do
Q Lets talk about what you do to create a song
I am always inspired to write songs through my past experiences. It is therefore a re-telling of the struggles I have gone through in life. I am presently writing a song about my love life and the problems I have faced in relationships.
Q What specific problems have you faced because you are young?
Well, I have faced a lot of problems because I am an orphan. I grew up in a foster home after I lost both of my parents. My fathers’ younger brother took care of me from when I was eight years old. I have moved away from the foster home and live with my four siblings. At the age of 21, I need to go to school, work, sing and take care of my siblings. It is very hard but I am managing. I have to look for time to work, take my siblings to school, and find time to sing. These are the contrains I face daily.
Q How do you manage to juggle, work, model, and schooling and taking care of your siblings?
First of all, my work requires me to be there from about eight in the morning to four pm. I am a senior programme officer. I spend a lot of time in the office, I do music during the weekend and school from about five to eight pm. For the children (four of them) I look after them during the little gaps I have. Basically, taking care of them just requires money and when I have money, there really is no issue taking care of them.
Q So despite the many problems, you have still been able to face off and do what you like doing including singing, what drives you on?
Whay drives me on is my dream. Since I was young, I have always wanted to be a public figure but not for the wrong reasons. I want to be known as somebody who is good and who is able to help people. I want to be recognized as a musician around the world. I want to be on billboards around the world. I also think there is a lot I can do and not only through music. When you are recognized, you can do many other things
Q And the money is another incentive?
Of coures, everybody needs and wants money. If I have money, I can help resolve a lot of problems, small and big
Q Your musical carreer is just taking off, where will you like to be in the next ten years?
To be honest and this is no joke, in the next ten years, I want to be on the top five chart on billboard. I know exactly where I am going. In the next ten years, I see myself being recognized around the world, I see myself helping others who are going through a lot of hurdles I presently face. I see myself more matured with more music on the market
Q What are you doing practically to be where you want to be in the next ten years?
I try to perfect my songs, each time I write, I make sure as many people as possible listen to it and give me feedback. When I keep doing this, I will be growing as an artists.
Q Talk a bit about the Zambian music industry
Zambian music industry is made up of …calindula .music. It comprises a mixture of local drums and light guitars and they sing in local dialects. It is not very popular now as Zambian music is evolving. Zambian music is comprised mostly of this dying musical genre
Q Why do people out of Zambia know so little about Zambian music
I think mainly because the music is done mostly in local languages. P Square in Nigeria do most of their songs in English so they have a greater appeal. Zambian music is mostly dance hall music sung in a language few people cannot understand. The greatest problem is that the music is not publicized as it should be. Promotion of Zambian music worldwide is almost non existent
Q If you were heading your music industry, what will you do to improve Zambian music
There are three things i will do. I will establish a label that will market Zambian music mostly through social media (Amazon and other online stores)
I will also help Zambian artists to shoot videos. Most Zamboiian musicians have great music but dont have videos. I will help them produce videos.
Also, I will try to get as many Zambian artists as possible to attend concerts across the world so that people can get to see them
Q You are young yourself but what advice do you have for uprising African musicians?
I will tell them to work very hard. They will face many many difficulties but it is usually a tough battle to do your first songs. I will advice them to keep practicing whatever the difficulties they face. I will also tell them to look for for other connections, they need to get their songs pub;lished no matter the coircumstances. They cant keep their songs to themselves saying they can only go public when they have theoir best songs. That is not good because you need to have songs outthere so that people can listen to and feedback, you can then grow when you learn from that.