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While new artistes flood secular industry more gospel counterparts are slowly drifting away from gospel space

By Jasmine Atieno
Friday, June 18th, 2021 00:00 | 6 mins read
Masterpiece King.

While new artistes are flooding the secular industry by the day, some more of their gospel counterparts are slowly moving away from the gospel space and into the secular music circle. Jasmine Atieno explores the factors leading to the trend.

Young urban gospel artistes are going the extra mile to be seen, or completely off the gospel scenes.

This trend continues to raise concerns on whether it is hard to maintain an image within the gospel industry or if the fans need to give more room for creativity for such artistes. Or could it be that the masses are expecting too much from them?

Controversial Kisii-based gospel artiste Chris Mosoima better known as Embarambamba came into the limelight with his strange rolling in the mud moves.

At first, it looked as it was just comedy of some sort, but he did get the views and fame.

A few weeks ago, a video clip of him in a raunchy dance with a woman in a club on Thika Superhighway was received with displeasure by a section of netizens who expressed a lot of disappointment in the artiste’s unorthodox entertainment antics.

But rather than accepting fault, Embarambamba absolved himself from any wrongdoing saying Jesus would have done the same thing he had done.

“The video doing rounds on the internet happened at a party I was attending near Thika Road.

Kenyans have crucified me and called me names. My fans are angry, but what I want you to know; look at the statement of the song.

The songs says where have you gotten the madness of doing this stupid video, you have forgotten God on the cross… Jesus came to this world for thieves and witches too and not just good people.

When Jesus was on earth, he spent time with bad people to save them by teaching them about God. You can’t say Embarambamba don’t go to the club or political rallies,” he said.

Embarambamba.

Singer Bahati has overtime made a name for himself in the Kenyan music industry, starting out as a gospel artiste.

Recently though, he’s left many tongues wagging regarding to where he actually stands for.

Many people have been wondering whether he is still a gospel artiste or sliding away just like his ‘brother’ Willy Paul.

The bold move

On Sunday, the Mtaachana Tu hitmaker released his album Love Like This, which was his official move away from the gospel scenes to contemporary music.

Days to its launch, Bahati teased his fans by releasing images of album cover that seemed way too provocative.

On the cover, he was pictured with a female model in booty shorts holding onto his shoulder while his hands were all over her thighs.

After the album cover went viral, Kenya Film Classification Board boss Ezekiel Mutua said the board had withdrawn their support towards the artiste’s project for contravening their clean content and partnership policy. 

“I did not want to have to answer questions that I could not yet explain, but I believe after the release of this album, I will be in a position to talk of the journey from the gospel industry to the contemporary industry, and I appreciate my brothers and colleagues in the scene for helping me through,” said Bahati.

Speaking on his challenges as a gospel artiste and the reasons he chose to go secular, artist Willy Paul recently opened up on his battle with depression and all the awful experiences that drove him away from gospel music. Hypocrisy, he says, has overtaken the gospel scenes.

“Some of you ask why I left the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I was a top artiste, but these evil people could not see that,” he posted on his Instagram page, where he opened up about battling depression while in the gospel industry.

Bahati performs his collabo song with Nadia Mukami during his album listening party last Sunday.

“These people broke my heart! They hurt me so bad; I was depressed for four months, I kept crying in silence every single day and night. Finally, it got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had no money to pay my bills and even help out pale nyumbani. Can you imagine I had the biggest songs na hawa watu wakanichorea hivo tu.

I’m not perfect, but what I went through as a gospel artiste, no servant of God should go through!” he wrote.

If we were to go by these trends, then it must be worrying for fledging gospel artistes who have looked up to such pacesetters as role models.

Masterpiece King is one of Kenya’s young and budding gospel artistes and has done some hit collaborations with some of the best gospel and secular artistes in the country including Size 8 and Otile Brown.

Asked on how he feels about the evolution of the Kenyan gospel industry and trends, he intimates that it is a matter of choice and everyone has the right to do things the way they want to.

“Everyone has their own career, so it’s very personal. But as we all know, since time immemorial, God’s work has faced such a big warfare.

I don’t think it’s a matter of loosening up and giving people more room to be themselves while still representing God, it is just about knowing what you stand for and dealing with it right,” Masterpiece told Spice.

Gone commercial

According to Pastor Anthony Mwangi —whom is also a TV presenter and rapper known by his moniker Mr T— gospel music ministrylost a lot positives when it got to the profit-making stage.He says this has taken the ministry to almost a beyond redemption stage at the moment.

“Marketing is a key element in the music industry. Gospel music ministers started imitating the secular industry and the awards became our gods, which were just people’s businesses.

More young people began to think that it was about money and not God and that is where the industry slowly started shutting down.

People are trying to resurrect it in any possible way and while at it shifting even more away, as the products they were selling are no longer selling out as was the case,” he says.

Mr T further intimates that many gospel artistes that join the secular space do so because there’s nobody there to question their character and they don’t want to be accountable for their choices.

Rather than choosing the God of the Bible, they want to create themselves a god who will accept them how they choose to be while giving them what they want. 

“We are in denial that there is a problem and using our methods to justify it. But even the secular world can clearly tell that we are no longer with God.

When you are seeking mandate in gospel, there is a guideline, which is the Bible, and discipline as people who fully submit to the teachings of Jesus Christ. This is what makes us disciples.

God created us in his image, but now we want to create a God that will submit to our image.

The results are that we have even lesser values now that we have become more secular than secular.

We need to remember that we owe this generation, and it is not just about what we leave for them in material form, but about what we leave in them,” he adds.

Personal decisions

Nairobi-based Pastor David Ewagata agrees that it is indeed a great concern, but also adds that these are personal choices in life that artistes might make while trying to explore their full potential, and especially what they feel they have been limited to.

This, he shares, is an issue for many artistes (not limited to the gospel industry) who have come into sudden success from maybe ghetto to flying high and most were ill prepared for the it.

“What we need to be talking about is how do we discipline such guys? Can we have voices that can speak to them because they basically find themselves between the rock and a hard place?

Gospel music might have put you on the platform, but it is not giving you enough space. Let’s not forget also that many artistes are going through very hard (economic) times.

The question should therefore be, have we taught them enough to last them through these hard times?” shares David.

He advises that it’s time to take some steps back to instil disciple into the young people, and just re-do the discipleship.

He says in conclusion that artistes should be taught to walk carefully. He says, “While it might seem easy to bash them for the changes and choice they’ve made or making, we are not creating much opportunities for them to work with. It is time to extend the grace and help them out.” 

Jasmine Atieno