Saturday, 3 April 2010


For a band that wanted absolutely nothing to do with the limelight, a character they have created for their latest video release is forcing them to come forth and hog the fame, albeit unwillingly.
Just A Band is made up of Dan Muli, Bill Sellanga and Jim Chuchu and their aim was to share their new style of music.
“It was never our intention to feature on any of our music videos because we cannot make a good video and still act in it,” Bill said.
Asked why good-looking men such as themselves are camera shy, Bill, popularly known as Blinky Bill, the lead vocalist for the group said, “On the contrary we are not camera shy, we are also giving other people a chance to build themselves.”
True to their style of music, Just A Band has created a number of different characters in their videos. Their first release, Owinyo Piny (directly translated, rotating the world) was an animated video, whose character was a young African man who repeatedly walks round the streets.
Their second release, Hey, featured hand puppets with the lead character called Boflo and his love interest Katumbe.
Other videos like Usinibore and If I Could, which featured Tusker Project Fame contestant Patricia Kihoro, also managed to stay below radar till now.
The trio is still amazed at the publicity Makmende has given to their three-week-old music video Ha-he. Released on March 14, Blinky Bill said three days later, the hype that began on Twitter spread to Facebook.
“All we wanted to do was make a good music video and we are amazed at the reception it has received. The song Ha-He is mildly macho and we needed a strong character to bring out the macho in the song,” the band’s vocalist said.
Blinky describes Makmende as a character just like the British-franchised action man James Bond. He stressed that Makmende’s fame doesn’t take anything away from the band’s image and loyal fan base.
“People who know us know the band and what we are all about, Makmende is just like any character but he doesn’t affect how we do what we do although we admit we are a bit surprised at all the attention he is getting.” He added that unlike all their other singles, “Ha-He’s release has gone fairly easy and hasn’t struggled at all.”
He termed Makmende as “one of our most successful characters.”
The band denies starting the website but own up to starting the trail that is now blazing.
“On releasing the video, we posted the links on Twitter and Facebook but it caught first on Twitter before it spread over to other social sites.”
The video has drawn more than 32,997 views on YouTube and the fan page has 23,234 fans.
Fellow band member Jim Chuchu is the genius behind Makmende; he is the one who came up with the idea of creating an action hero. Chuchu was assisted by Mbithi Masya.
The video was shot in February and they did not hold a casting session for the lead role.
Makmende who is played by former reality star Kevin ‘K1’ Maina is a close friend of Just A Band. He might have failed to win the coveted prize in KTN’s The Presenter as a news anchor, but now he says he can’t leave the house without being hounded by fans who recognise him from the video.
Makmende has spun into a phenomenon. The band has now copyrighted the character and other slang words used in the video. In a press statement the band wrote: “Seeing as there has been a lot of discussion about us, Makmende and what we are going to do now that the Ha-He video concept has spun off into something massive, we'd like to set a few things straight. We have obtained the sole rights to the Makmende character likenesses.”
The copyright also includes the characters and slang words used in the music videos like First Bodi, Big-G, Wrong Number, The Askyua Matha Black Militants, Black Sahara, Nyoyo na Uji Films and Finger of Nebula among others.
“This means that any copying or reproduction of any of the above characters for commercial purposes without permission is prohibited by law. Violators will be subject to criminal and/or civil action.”
They however credit the name Makmende to “popular culture”, admitting they did not create the name.
But they stated, “Our copyright covers our representation of Makmende and the other characters/brand names in the video.” As for Kevin "K1" Maina who plays the tough action figure, the band asked fans to be kind to him but stated firmly he won’t be making any public appearances as Makmende.
With the copyrighting of Makmende the character and a list of other slang names used in the Ha He video, a rap duo called Boomba Boiz are accusing the band of stealing their idea.
The duo Nascent (Moses Kilonzo), a single parent and blind, and Labcy (Patrick Muteti), an orphan, narrated how that happened.
“We met Just A Band a while back and they listened to our singles Tumefika and Pastor Joh and they enquired why we haven’t done a video for the latter. We then told them we will be releasing Umaskini Kwa Mtaa first and explained the story line.”
Lead singer for the electro pop band, Blinky Bill denied that Just A Band ever met the two, saying there is no “ounce of truth in those claims.”
The video story line for Boomba Boiz was allegedly themed Makmende Amerudi just like in the Ha He video.
“Our video showed the life of Makmende, a Kenyan hustler who earns his living through criminal ways. In the first verse of the song, Makmende goes job hunting but isn’t dressed like a conventional job hunter should.
“He runs low on luck and when he doesn’t get the jobs he has done interviews for, he turns to the life of crime. The law catches up with him when he is netted printing fake currency,” the duo said.
They say Makmende later turns on a new leaf and regrets his rebellious lifestyle.
The duo go ahead to criticize Just A Band’s new Video Ha He. “The video and the song idea contradict. This clearly shows that these ideas came at different times with the video idea coming in the last. So why did they have to combine two contradicting ideas?”
Despite the copyright, Nascent and Labcy say they will release their video Umaskini Kwa Mtaa featuring their own Makmende.
Boomba Boiz started their musical career late 2004. Their first single Ngeta recorded under Southwest records was followed by Tumefika done in Ogopa DJs studio. In late 2006, they took the social awareness angle and recorded 4WD, a song that talked about use of condoms not being an alternative to fight HIV/Aids. Late 2007, they recorded 4WD the remix. Then last year they recorded Pastah Joh! and Umaskini Kwa Mtaa, both of which they hoped would make them mainstream acts.
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As published on The Star