Humble Beginnings: Diamond Platnumz’s Blueprint to Music Stardome

Diamond Platnumz

He gave my bony body a big hug and said brightly to my boyish face, “Welcome to Kampala, my young brother”. We were standing right in the middle of the Electoral Commission roundabout a few minutes after I alighted from that slow-moving commuter taxi I had traveled in. Our thin shadows were long, multiple, and spread in all directions under the traffic lights. It was around 9 pm. How can I ever forget?

For miles of my travel I had preoccupied my mind with thoughts of how biting Kampala would be for me, especially that all I had for money was a creased 10,000 bill, the remainder of savings I had made from working at Eastern Voice FM back at home. I had started as a cleaner at the station, 2013– unclogging dirty toilets, cleaning rusty tiles, removing cobwebs that were black with age, mopping close to half an acre of a pot-holed floor, and enduring loud belittling insults from most staff– until later when Manager Haruna (bless him, Lord) through a phone call one morning instructed me to go on air and read the 8 am bulletin as I had put in my application! I had landed my dream job!

But after 2 years of working through many ranks, I resigned from said radio broadcast job and used much of my savings to pay tuition for my first university semester at Kampala International University. It goes without saying that I had ran stark penniless. So on this particular night of my journey, while seated in that dirty commuter taxi’s rear corner, which is my favorite spot in a taxi to date, my mind had gotten tied up with such worrisome thoughts as those that come with being broke that I never allowed myself enough time to thank God for my best friend, Mataga Talik who was going to be my host during my tenure of study at varsity and who was gladly waiting for me in Kampala. It wasn’t the first time to do a kind act for me, and neither was it going to be the last.

But it was during his hug that it reflectively dawned on me how much MT (I prefer calling him that and if it had not been for space I would narrate why) had laid his life down for me since high school. His role in my life is beyond description and I can’t find the mouth with which to put it into narration. In high school he had saved me many times from standing in those long snake-like queues during meal times, rescued me from the hands of many bullies, encouraged me to become a school prefect to avoid those high school flogs from teachers like Mr Muyodi, fanned my reading and writing coals into a flame, and, yes, freely gave me with the motivation and words I used to get my first girlfriend.

Freely, because in high school writing 100 words of a love letter to a pretty girl cost you 20,000 or paying the breaktime snacks at the canteen for the guy who helped you author the letter for some reasonable weeks, or both. Else this author would turn around and sketch a better and lovelier piece of letter to your crash on his own behalf and crash your heart into fine fragments. It is not an appealing feeling.

It was during my university stay with Talik in Kampala that I discovered a whole useful lot more about music, but it was through both the easy and hard ways. Here is the easy way: at his place, I listened to every tribe of music record; we had stacks of VCDs as well as a wide variety of radio stations that played the creamiest genres of music that Kampala was pulsating to– KFM, Sanyu FM, Radio 1, Super FM, Capital FM, name them, and they played it all– from US, Jamaican, Nigerian, Tanzanian, Ugandan, Kenyan and South African records, through a Sony woofer (a campuser’s room, as I later learned, without this item is no room at all); and from my comparison with the music I had listened to in my early teenage life (in my teenage life US music and US inspired music ruled the airwaves) I made a simple predictive conclusion, which of course I shared with no one.

The hard way: now there is something at university called room-mating which, having nothing to do with actual mating, is this: if you rent a room that you can’t conveniently pay for you are allowed the convenience of inviting someone else in so you can halve the rent. Such a person is called a roommate. So Talik had one, and however much I try to, I bear significantly fewer nice descriptive words about this individual, because he too gave me fewer nice experiences.

He had a campus girlfriend, a belle who walked and talked like she was related to some very important people on Mars, and who was in the habit of unannouncedly visiting more often than was comfortable. So in the event that girlfriend visited the rest of us had to find places to spend the rest of the night. Now this happened too many times that it compelled me into the habit of frequenting a nearby pub just to curl myself like a cat in one dark corner for warmth and sleep. And from the music that played in that pub, I confirmed my earlier conclusion. And yet still shared with no one.

Here however I will share with you the conclusion: Nigerian music was taking over! The year was 2015…

It appears like it was not only yours truly who had arrived at this conclusion, but I believe I was among the many who were indifferent to it. Such was not the case with one young man from a township called Tandale, Tanzania. He was a singing lad who shared a similar story with mine, who too had a Talik figure in his life, a figure who had not only invited and hosted him to the city of Dar-Es-Salam but also helped fan his music coals into flames.

These flames presented not only in the form of heart-touching and emotion-inducing Swahili records that made Tanzania a leading music-exporting country in East Africa but also in the form of a music recording and publishing record label called Wasafi Classic Baby (WCB Wasafi). Ladies and gentlemen, Diamond Platnumz needs no introductions, and neither does RJ the DJ, his hero DJ of a cousin, for he is the Talik in Diamond’s story.

The story goes that when Diamond Platnumz discovered the aforementioned trend that the Nigerian music industry was taking around 2015 he refrained from being indifferent and made up his mind to swim in shark waters. He experimented with many things, many of which proved effective; some of which were the following: (1) collaborating with Nigerian artists such as Davido, Flavour, P Square, Burna Boy, and Tiwa Savage and going a step further by collaborating with Rick Ross, Omarion, NeYo, Morgan Heritage, Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, Alicia Keys, AKA, etc), (2) coping and blending the Nigerian sound and style with Bongoflava (if you can’t beat them, join them), and (3) turning his Wasafi outfit into a music label (quite different from what our Big 3 had created in their prime) in the real sense of the word.

The third is the most important endeavor he took, as I stressed in my previous article. Now let’s focus our attention on the reason why before the night falls.

Diamond’s establishment of a music label set numerous initiatives in motion:

  1. Formalizing the name Wasafi Limited as a legitimate company capable of conducting lawful business operations, ensuring protection and regulation under the law.
  2. Implementing a legal framework for company operations, governing all transactions and contracts, and enabling Wasafi to legally own the rights to artists’ records.
  3. Partnering with music industry entrepreneurs, including Hamisi Shaban Taletale, Mkubwa Fella, and Jorge Mendez aka Sallam SK, who serve as major managers and shareholders of the label.
  4. Signing artists in accordance with legal procedures, such as Harmonize, Rayvanny, Rich Mavoko, Mbosso, Zuchu, Queen Darlene, Lava Lava, and D Voice, and guiding them to compete musically within a short timeframe.
  5. Investing in YouTube and DSPs to achieve competitive numbers for business endorsements, leveraging technology to increase revenue streams.
  6. Establishing vital business connections and partnerships with foreign music companies like Universal Music and Warner Music through distribution agreements.
  7. Enhancing the branding of the label and its artists through social media and the website (www.wcbwasafi.com), fostering stronger business partnerships.
  8. Diversifying investments into various income streams to promote inter-dependency among Diamond’s chain of companies, where revenue from one entity supports another.
  9. Safeguarding the company from potential losses through legal and professional measures.
  10. Establishing a broadcast media company to anticipate and counter anticipated persecution from Tanzanian media houses intolerant of individual artists’ outstanding achievements, thereby shaping the direction of the Tanzanian music industry.

This article can still go on and on but let’s meet next week for serious music label talk.

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Mwesigwa Joshua
Mwesigwa Joshua Buxton is an artiste, humor columnist, strategist writer and journalist who draws inspiration from the works of Barbara Kimenye, Timothy Bukumunhe, and Tom Rush. He focuses on writing on entertainment. His background includes collaboration with the Eastern Voice FM newsroom.
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