By Ahmad Muto
Bebe Cool, who reposted deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa’s tweet on Sunday, September 24, 2023 suggesting a music battle between him and his contemporary, singer Jose Chameleone, has since responded fully.
After recognising the contribution of some legendary local artistes to local music, Bebe took a dive into one the most contentious issues affecting them – copyright, and how fellow singer, and legislator Dr. Hilderman (Mawokota North MP Hilary Kiyaga) is invested in it.
“A little rewind… Yesterday, D/Speaker Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa tweeted that he relished a live music performance battle between two Ugandan music titans, Jose Chameleone and I (Bebe Cool). Before I go any further, I would like to inform Ugandans that if Chameleone and I, and the musicians before us like Philly Bongole Lutaaya, Elly Wamala, Elvis Basudde etc, have managed to elevate music in Uganda to a fully fledged money-making industry for both formal and informal Ugandans, we can do much with full direct financial support from government,” he wrote.
“And Government backing can be on different fronts, music battles (in this case mine and Chameleone) one of them. Back to the D/Speaker’s post… His tweet received mixed reactions from tweeps, with some condemning him. This will be my focus today. Some people have called him out to focus on advocating more on the ‘open gate of a stand alone performing arts industry with a fully functional copyright law.’ These argued that with a fully functional copyright law, the arts industry can generate immense revenue.”
“This is so true. But let me take this opportunity to remind the public that on 20 July 2022, Member of Parliament Hon. Hillary Kiyaga (Dr. Hilderman) was granted leave of Parliament to introduce the copyright Bill titled, The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights (Amendment) Bill. Soon, this Bill will be in Parliament. I hope the copyright issue is clearer for everyone now,” added Bebe Cool.
On the battle between him and Chameleone that he last suggested in 2021, Bebe Cool argued that it would be a spectacle.
“A music battle between Chameleone and I is one the whole country would relish. It’s a big deal. And this would be a reaffirmation and confirmation that the Government is always willing to support talent in Uganda. We are big brands and government support to our music battle would go miles to assure young Ugandans emerging in the talent industries (arts and sport) that these are full time jobs that government takes serious,” he continued.
Governments of other African countries, Bebe claimed, invest in music, the reason their artistes are global sensations, with solid bank balances.
“Governments in Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania have directly supported musicians. And now Nigerian musicians are running music world over. Governments know when their top artistes are rich, they can easily support budding artistes through music labels.”
With Chameleone, Bebe stated that they have failed to match their colleagues from other countries because they are not financially astute to fund their careers and groom other artistes.
“Chameleone and I have spent our entire careers trying to earn a living. It’s been hard to uplift youngsters because we do not have the financial muscle to uphold our personal careers at the highest level for the longest time like we have done, and at the same time invest in young artistes by creating functional and vibrating music labels. But we have tried and done our best.”
The battle, Bebe Cool argued, will generate buzz, with the potential of pulling those from abroad, a plus for tourism.
“Some people have always called for us to retire and support the new-age artistes. Without money, this is practically impossible. This battle can bring talkability for a year or so and this brings numbers. I have seen people fly from different countries to go and watch music concerts. We started our careers in Nairobi, Kenya, we have fans all over Africa. Such a battle can attract people into Uganda. This promotes tourism. At the end of the day, the money invested in us trickles down to other artists.”
Did you know how much it takes to push an upcoming artiste in one year? Well, Bebe Cool has the figure.
“Our labels – Leone Island and Gagamel – are stuck because of lack of funds. Managing and promoting an artiste requires huge investment. By investing in us, the Government is investing in younger artistes as well. For now we can’t do much for our young brothers and sisters as we still have a lot to achieve on a personal level. All these – audio, visual production, marketing on TVs, radio etc – require massive investment. Averagely, shs200 million is annually needed to push a budding artist.”
And how many people would make money from the battle?
“It’s social economic impact would encompass masses and would be of large proportions. It must also be noted that a battle of such magnitude employees (directly or indirectly) around 5,000 people. There’s nothing really wrong with the Government supporting a battle between us,” added Bebe Cool.
Meanwhile, Chameleone has remained silent on the deputy speaker’s suggestion.
In 2021, he told Bebe Cool the idea of a music battle between them was unwise. He said they should just let their fans enjoy their music.