By Martin Ndijjo
Shanks Vivi Dee! The youthful generation in their mid-thirties and early forties relate well with this name.
In the 90s he was one of the hottest artists alongside Ragga Dee when Chameleone and Bebe Cool were struggling to even gain free entry into night clubs.
Most artists now do not even know him, later on know that he was one of the pioneers in the industry.
Unlike Ragga Dee and a host of other musicians who have braved the hustles of the music industry and made their mark on the Ugandan scene, Shanks Vivi Dee opted to leave the country in 2000 for kyeyo in the UK.
He says he went to further his studies in Liverpool before resorting to kyeyo.
Chameleone performs with Radio; the music industry has so evolved with young blood coming up
In contrast, Chameleone and Bebe Cool boarded a bus to Nairobi; not to do menial jobs but to hone their skill under the mentorship of the talented Ogopa DJs.
And they came back stars and are now music icons. Even new entrants like Bobi Wine who got into music after graduating from the MDD class at Makerere University made their mark and started sizing up the likes of Bebe Cool and Chameleone, not to mention the latter's proteges Radio & Weasel.
All this while Shanks was holed up in the UK trying to make ends meet till he made a return eight years ago having realised the music industry in Uganda was hot cake so much so that artistes made music videos that cost millions.
Shanks’ come back was rather cameo; it was like a passing whirlwind before a storm!
Seriously there are newer attractive things on the music scene like Radio & Weasel, sexy singers like Sheebah Karungi and Irene Ntale and the never ending rivalry among big artistes who are now organizing shows that require swipe entry tickets! Factor into that the now bustling promoter business that only risks money on the best of the best.
In short, the music industry in Uganda has so evolved Shanks’ come back had his head spinning in confusion as Chameleone’s brother Pallaso, who also left the country eight years ago testified that “young musicians in Uganda no longer sleep; they are always coming up with new hit!
Vivi Dee blames woes on Chameleone
Shanks is the man who first mentored Chameleone at Club Ecstasy then in Banda in 1996; Chameleone even introduced him to his mother who in turn pleaded with Shanks to hone her son’s talent.
Young meets old: Weasel performs with Olando, another fallen music star
Shanks also made money; he made sh30m from his Bundu album in 1994 and sh16m from Nsangi in 1998! At his summit he performed with the likes of South Africa’s Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Lucky Dube (RIP); Jamaica’s Chaka Demus & Pliers and dancehall sensation, Shaba Ranks. Now he is blaming Chameleone for ‘forgetting him.’
“First of all I am proud that I mentored him and he went on to be successful. But what hurts me most is that he has refused to help me rejuvenate my music. Everytime I approach him he shows me he has no time for me but I do not mind, I will make it up there one day,” says Shanks.
He is now in the Goodlyfe camp where he says he has composed two songs that he believes will put him back up there. Shanks’ fans are concerned that a former icon like him is struggling to make ends meet.
Chameleone however denies giving Shanks a cold shoulder. “ I have not refused to help him but really God also helps those who help themselves. Besides music is like football; if you do not train you don’t perform,” says Chameleone.
“Shanks really helped me and that’s why I even welcomed him when he returned. I even took him to my studio so we could work out something but he clearly showed he was not interested. He is not serious. Recently he sped past me on a bodaboda and I called him so we could talk but he signaled to me he was in a hurry.”
Chameleone adds: “ he needs to know he is no longer the star he used to be.”
Ragga Dee’s take
He has been in the industry much longer and is a businessman who commands a lot of respect from musicians.
By all standards he is a man doing rather well and has been like this for long. He is known to drive posh cars that he changes like underwear. He says the likes of Shanks are to blame for their own downfall.
“ I have been in the industry for 27 years but still going strong; in fact I have a new track ‘Parliament’ that is making waves. I cannot let young boys mock me; I just go about my business,” he says.
“Every time those young boys mock you and you get deflated just know you are finished! How do you think bands like Afrigo have lasted since the days of Amin?
I do not just deflate; several musicians I have helped like Chameleone, King Michael and Iryn Namubiru who used to sing in my group among many I used to take to Angenoir now give me respect.”
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