The story behind Kenzo, Mani Martin 'Afro' remix collabo

It is arguably Mani Martin’s biggest musical hit to date. Afro is the lead single and title track off the singer’s latest 15-track album, released late last year. But the song seems destined to get even bigger, after Mani Martin did a remix of the song featuring Ugandan star Eddy Kenzo.
Kenzo (R) and Mani Martin during the video shoot for Afro at Kwetu Residence Inn in Kagugu. / Moses Opobo
Kenzo (R) and Mani Martin during the video shoot for Afro at Kwetu Residence Inn in Kagugu. / Moses Opobo

It is arguably Mani Martin’s biggest musical hit to date. Afro is the lead single and title track off the singer’s latest 15-track album, released late last year.

But the song seems destined to get even bigger, after Mani Martin did a remix of the song featuring Ugandan star Eddy Kenzo.

On Saturday evening, Kenzo flew to Kigali to join Mani Martin for the video shoot that took place Sunday night at the Kwetu Residence Inn in Kagugu, Kigali.

The artistes first visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, before proceeding for the shoot, which kicked off at 9p.m, and went on till late. The video set featured the two musicians singing on a live music stage before a crowd of revelers, giving it the feel of a live concert. Traditional dancers from the Itorero Inkindi Itatse traditional troupe were used to spice up the video.

1505759563cast
Part of the cast for the video pose for a photo after the shoot. / Moses Opobo

Started with a text

“When I did this song the idea was to make it a song for Africa, so when I was looking for artistes that are making it on the African continent I believed in Kenzo because he is one of East Africa’s biggest exports to the whole continent and the world,” Mani Martin explains the genesis of the collabo.

All he did was send a text message to the Ugandan musician introducing the song and expressing interest to work with him.

“I was so excited when he replied. He told me that it’s a good song we can make it together. I felt so blessed. I had prayed so much for the opportunity to do it with him, and when it came I was really happy and the experience was very good when we did it. He was so fun and creative. Kenzo is a little bit different from the other artistes that I’ve worked with before because he knows what he wants in a song, even when it comes to the beat. He doesn’t wait for the producer to do everything and for me that was amazing,” Mani Martin said, adding;

“The other reason I chose him is that he always uses kids to do African dances in his videos which I really like. I just like the Africanness in him and in his music which I also have so it was just amazing.”

1505759647eddy-kenzo
Kenzo signs the visitors’ book at the Kigali Genocide Memorial on Sunday. / Moses Opobo

Incidentally, Kenzo hardly knew Mani Martin before the proposal for the collabo came up.

“I didn’t know him from way back but the connection came because I think he has a dream and he loves what he is doing, he loves his country and he loves Africa. I think he had a dream that I can take the song further. He sent me the song and the communication,” Kenzo explains, and describes Afro as “a good song with a real authentic meaning for all of us. When I watched the song I got to know about his dream and what he wants and I think he was right. We changed the song a little bit to make it a real collaboration for both of us and I think it will go far.”

To produce the song, Kenzo invited Mani Martin over to his own studio in Kampala “so that I could give them some good time. He came with his own producer, so it was four of us that worked on this song and exchanged ideas to make sure it comes out perfectly.”

1505759788kenzo-mani-memorial
Kenzo (wearing a white cap) and Mani Martin (in a white t-shirt, in the first row) visited Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi pay tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. / Moses Opobo

Kenzo described collaborating on Afro as a privilege, and promised his Rwandan fans that they should expect more of him in the near future.

“Whenever he (Mani Martin) wants me I will be back because I’m pushing him and he is also pushing me. I’m here for the love, not money. When he called me I never asked for any money. I just told him to fly down to Kampala and we work. I believe that it’s God who has blessed me with this knowledge and it’s my job to share it with others. That’s why it’s a privilege for me to be here.”

The song’s audio and video are set for concurrent release soon.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

Have Your SayLeave a comment