Diamond Platinumz officially launched his third studio album, titled ‘A Boy From Tandale at the Kenyan Cultural Centre. His previous album, ‘Lala Salama’ was released in 2012 and it was a mega success. The multi award winning artist has won and been nominated for numerous awards, with some of the most notable ones including a nomination at the BET awards for Best International Act Africa in 2014 and 2016 and a win at the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best African Act and Best World Wide Act Africa/India in 2015. The musician, through his hits such as ‘Number One’ which features Nigeria’s Davido, and numerous other collaborations with various artists from Africa and the world, such as Patoranking from Nigeria, AKA from South Africa, the iconic Morgan Heritage band from Jamaica and so on, have solidified his place as one of Africa’s biggest and hottest artists and earned him worldwide international stardom, and with the release of his new album, the sky can only be the limit for the Tanzanian superstar.
The release of his new album also comes after an interesting period for the artist, with him recently having signed a deal with Universal Music Group, which gives him access to wider distribution for his music, not only in Africa but to the entire world. In a press briefing a couple of days ago at the Michael Joseph Centre, Diamond explained the long hiatus from making an album, despite releasing mega hits during the period.
“The main challenge has been distribution mechanisms, we’ve not always had access to the best distribution systems for our music and that is why it has taken me this long to release an album. However, now with UMG (Universal Music Group) on board, it feels like the right time to do it. My team and I are very excited about releasing this album,” said the artist.
Partnership With Safaricom Through The Songa Music App.
Another particular reason why the release of his album comes at an interesting time is his partnership with the large telecommunications company, Safaricom, for rights to his music on the company’s music streaming platform, Songa. The Songa App was released a month ago and is meant to give music fans the ultimate music experience. Songa gives you access to over two million songs by bringing the music closer to, using a platform, locally and specifically designed for you. The Songa app is also meant to encourage the local population to consume more music from our local and regional artists, rather than always looking abroad when searching for quality music.
“Our aim is to delight our subscribers with a carefully curated world-class collection, a fantastic user interface and a smooth streaming experience,” said Sylvia Mulinge, director of Consumer Business at Safaricom, during the release of the App. The service is also meant to provide an additional revenue stream to artists and increase their earnings by availing their music on the platform. With top local artists such as Nyashinski, Sauti Sol and Mercy Masika already signed on the platform, the decision by Diamond to partner with Safaricom comes as a validation of the service and lays the emphasis and importance of our own local music distribution systems. It also shows that the local market can be indeed commercially successful for artists and the importance of not ignoring local fanbases in pursuit of international audiences and market.
It is due to this partnership, among other reasons, that Diamond decided to launch his album from Kenya and not from Tanzania as many would have expected.
“The main reason for deciding to launch the album from Kenya and not my home country Tanzania, apart from the wonderful opportunity offered to me by Safaricom, is to show East Africa and Africa that we are united and we are indeed one. When I’m out there, I just don’t represent Tanzania or East Africa, I represent the whole of Africa, and as such, Africa is my home, therefore I can launch my album from any African country, since the whole of Africa is my home,” said Diamond.
The Album Launch Event.
With an array of regional and local celebrities and musicians expected to be in attendance, due to Diamond’s superstardom and good relationship with Kenyan artists, the event was going to be nothing short of spectacular. And turn up they did, with the likes of Sauti Sol, Elani, Fena Gitu, Gilad Millo, Nameless, Wyre, Shaffie Weru, Willy M. Tuva, just to mention a few, turning up to support Diamond’s new project. The hosts and MCs for the night were the renowned radio presenter Maina Kageni and Kenyan funny man, Jalang’o, and their chemistry on stage and throughout the night was admirable, cheeky and funny, adding to the overall excitement and buzz that was already in the air.
The event started off warmly, with the two MCs engaging the crowd in light quizzes about the Safaricom Songa App and giving out airtime prices to the few in the crowd who managed to get the quizzes right. Next came the acknowledgement of distinguished guests in attendance and a few speeches, the most notable being that from Kenyan Ambassador to Tanzania, Dan Kazungu, who reiterated the importance of togetherness and unity between and within the East African region, with a particular emphasis on a call to support one another in everything that we do.
Ultimately, came the moment that all had been waiting for, the introduction of Diamond to the stage, and boy was it an introduction! With smoke coming from beneath the stage, and the hall completely dimmed out, Diamond came out from behind the stage, impeccably dressed and full of energy, to the bewilderment of the crowd. He then proceeded to perform a few of his bangers before having a discussion session with the MC, where he shared a little bit about himself and about the album before going back to performing again.
Majority of the set was filled with this alternating arrangement between powerful performances and sit down sessions. This, I found to be extremely clever, as the sit-down sessions provided a bit of background context to the music, the inspiration behind it and so on. It was also very genuine, as it gave the audience a chance to know and see the real Diamond, the man behind all the glitz and glamour, as he shared some of his personal experiences in life, struggles growing up and lessons that he’s learnt along the way.
Undoubtedly though, the highlight of the night was his performance with surprise act, multiple award-winning American artist Omarion, who came out to perform their sure-be-hit collaboration off the new album, ‘African Beauty.’ The organizers had kept Omarion’s presence at the launch a secret, so when he came out to perform on stage with Diamond, the crowd was stunned and went into a delirious frenzy. Diamond also later on performed with his fellow label mates from Wasafi Classic Baby production label (WCB) who had come to support him in launching his new album. Before that, there was a lighter note when he brought out members of his family, including his Mother, Sister and Uncle on stage, had them introduce themselves and later thanked them for their never-ending and continued support in his career and his life.
The Album Itself.
The album, A Boy From Tandale, has twenty songs, which is strangely a lot, especially in today’s music industry, with the normal full range of an album being eight to ten songs. However, this was a deliberate move as Diamond explained. “The reason for having that many songs on my album is to include some ‘older’ songs in it which have been an important part of my career. As you all know, I have not released an album in quite a number of years, mostly due to distribution issues, but I have still been releasing music all that while, with songs like Number One, Nana and the rest which were not part of an album. These songs were huge for me and important stepping stones that changed my career, therefore, I could not afford to not include them in the album, and that’s the main reason the album has twenty songs,” said Diamond. “I also put them in the album to give a chance to new fans, especially those international fans who have not heard the songs before, to hear them, love them and enjoy them,” he continued.
The album is mostly inspired by Diamond’s experiences and lessons learnt growing up in his hometown, Tandale, and consists of ten previously released songs and ten new songs and include collaborations with various artists such as the already stated award-winning American Artist Omarion, and Nigeria’s female powerhouse, Tiwa Savage.
The album is available for download on iTunes, the music streaming platform Spotify and the Safaricom Songa App, from the 16th of March 2018.
Pictures courtesy of Safaricom.