Thursday, May 6, 2021

MMP Family- Lebala kanna

They are the new kids on the block. I first learnt of the group in the build-up to a concert at Botswana Craft in December 2014 where they had been scheduled to perform alongside SA’s Beatenberg.

Even then, except for Beatenberg, the local lads were not motivation enough to attend the concert. It was only until a friend played their track, Lebala Kanna, while driving to Maun later that month that I would begin to take notice.

The song would punctuate our entire festive season.

Already fully booked for the rest of 2015 (including December 31st), MMP Family are definitely the talk of the town.

Lifestyle had a chat with the kwaito group to discuss the trajectory of their relatively budding career and take a peek into their future plans. The group comprises the trio of Modiri ‘M.O.D’ Nage (28), Tebogo ‘Mzico’ Baipidi (29) and Mothusi ‘Ples’ Jackalas (29). They met at Marulamantsi Secondary School back in 2002 while doing their Junior Certificate.

They would perform renditions for popular kwaito songs at talent shows. “Our first performance as a group was at a Gaborone Technical College beauty contest,” they say. In 2007 they met a gentleman who offered them an opportunity to record at his studio at a reasonable fee.

A year later they had recorded 10 tracks one of which was a single called ‘Basadi’. Upon its release they had the song play in a call-in program on Yarona FM where the audience got to vote on whether it deserved airplay. “The reviews were less than flattering,” they say. But that was only a lesson learnt and the boys continued pushing for recognition.

“We approached the more renowned kwaito group, Eskimos, and with the help of Odirile ‘Vee’ Sento they agreed to feature us in their concerts to help us get recognition.” It was during one of the Eskimos concerts that the trio, then going by the name Desert Egos, got to change their name to MMP Family. “We were about to hit the stage and it turned out the MC of the night didn’t know our group name so someone suggested he called us by our initials,” the trio says.

“We were furious when he called out ‘MMP’ but we had to get on stage and perform anyway.” It was only after the show when they expressed their dissatisfaction at being called the wrong name that people insisted that the name ‘MMP’ actually sounded much better than Desert Egos. In 2010, now MMP Family, the group got to perform at the annual All Kasi Family Fun Day in Lobatse.

“It was there where we met Sthibo (Thabo Kgosiemang) who offered to fine tune our music and enhance the quality,” they say. Kgosiemang, through his “connections” in the industry, also assisted in getting them gigs. In 2012 they released their first studio album, Mo Spacing, which got them nominations for best kwaito album and best newcomer at the BOMU Awards. They scooped the best kwaito album award. Although they would continue promoting the album it was not enough to give them the kind of recognition they thought they deserved. They trio parted ways with Kgosiemang.

“After being in the industry for that long and still stuck at the bottom we did some thorough introspection,” MMP Family says. They realised they needed someone who could take care of the managerial aspects of the business. “That’s when we met Pogiso ‘Slim’ Mokgweetsi and luckily he had also been hoping to work with us.” Mokgweetsi was Hip Hop artist Euri’s manager at the time.

They began working on their second album in January 2014 and released its first single, Lebala Kanna , later in August. “We had a hunch the song would get people to finally stop and listen to our music,” they say. They submitted the new single to various radio stations and this time around they got rave reviews. “Within two weeks people were calling us asking for the track. It was the most requested song on radio and even got us a nomination for the YAMAs.”

They finally released the full 15 track album, Lesson One, the following month (September). The album, they say, is selling so well they are struggling to meet the demand. They got fully booked for the 2014 festive season, performing at all ‘Bak2Skul’ festivals across the country.

Most of the MMP Family tracks seem to centre on love, relationships, and being a lenyora (a term associated with youth who define themselves with usually aggressive style of walking, talking, dressing and dancing). “We are all from the township so our lyrics are a reflection of our own personal life experiences.” Some of their tracks offer melancholic lyrics coupled with realistic social commentary in which they evidently feature. MMP Family are definitely the men of the moment and one can only hope they don’t pull a disappearing act like all the other kwaito/motswako artists before them. Incidentally, it is worth noting that both MOD and Mzico are college graduates while Ples is still studying for his advanced diploma at ABM. They will at least have something to fall back on should music fail to pay the bills.

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