Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seven traits of highly effective entertainers


Now, that headline as many of you know has been borrowed from one of the most popular self-help books in the world — The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — which has sold more than 15 million copies in 38 languages since first publication.

I am not a self-help books kind of a reader, but this title just hit me and had me thinking, what are some of the traits that make an entertainer an effective and successful one? This is what I came up with.

The first question any artiste should ask themselves is whether they entertain. That is all you are supposed to do and if you do not entertain, then you are in the wrong boat my friend.

How do you know if you entertain? Simple, do people like your work? If you have been in the industry for ten years and are still regarded as an up and coming actor/musician/model, then it is time to pack up and leave.

The second thing is, do you set standards or are you are a sheep and all you do is follow? You know you are influential when you do something and people take it up. Look at Rihanna! She decides to shave off her hair on one side and suddenly you have girls all over the world doing the same.

Kanye West shows up at an award show wearing shades with grills on them and soon every teenage male is rocking them. By the way if you are over 19 and you wear those shades, then you need to pay more taxes.

Kenyan entertainers are at a point where they can influence culture. I want to watch a Marya, Wahu or Amani video in which they are introducing a new trend, not just following what international artistes are doing. If you can influence a generation, then my dear friend, you have made it.

Third. Do you command respect from your peers and the market? Respect differs but it pretty much boils down to one thing — do people sit up and listen when you release a new show, song or trend?

People do not have to like you to respect you. Confused? Good. I do not like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber for instance, but I respect the force that is their brands.

Get me now? When these two do a song, you can bet that I will want to listen and watch the videos to see what they have come up with.

Fourth. What is your strategy? I am really sick and tired of being sick and tired of artistes, both up coming and established, asking me what I think their strategy should be.

Many do not have a strategy when they set out to join the entertainment industry. They just do a song, it hits and they are left wondering what to do next. That is not how to grow a brand.

From the word go, know your style and have a road map for your career. Know who to deal with, associate with, and how. This helps your fans understand you better.

Fifth. Do you take risks? Local artistes are renowned for being square. The style that they start with is the same style they will go out with.

Take risks, they do pay off. The fans may not like it at first, but they will respect you. Now here’s the difference, don’t make crap music saying that is taking risks, no, that is being dumb, risks require rule number four — strategy.

Sixth. How well do you research on your art? Did I mention that there are Kenyan artistes who do not know what a ‘rider’ is? Really, how do you not know of the one thing that is very important to your career?

You need to know what the new trends across the world are, and what your fans are feeling. Look at STL’s music, it goes with the worldwide trend but she doesn’t get lost in the mic.

And the last one, originality. This is an easy one; is your style unique or you copy what every other person is doing? Are you doing gospel or Afro fusion because everybody is, and that is what’s in?

You can adopt to suit the current trend but don’t change to copy what’s happening. Adapting and copying are two totally different things. Class is dismissed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LETTER TO MY 13-YEAR-OLD SELF




Wsup kiddo, no, don't fret it's me. I mean you. Yes, it is you from the future. Confusing right? Sorry. It is 2010 and I know you are somewhere studying hard for your KCPE exams. I know mom keeps talking about education being the true inheritance she can give you and although it doesn't make sense, she's right.

I am all grown up and boy am I having fun. I know you received a good beating from mum today just like yesterday and I can bet tomorrow too. You are one energetic kid Phil and she has to ensure that you grow up to be a respectable man in society. I'm happy to say she accomplished that task and she is happy with what I turned out to be. Your baby sister no longer sucks her thumb and your big sister actually loves you despite hitting you on a daily basis.

They all love you and you will grow closer and stronger together. Respect women, they run the world for sure. All that talk about men being the stronger sex is a big fat lie. Women run the 21st Century. All men do is pretend to protect them.

For someone who got his first suspension in nursery school and threatened to drop out of school at standard one if she didn't move you from Michinda Boys where you were to join boarding school in class four, let me say I am proud you will not grow up to a be rabble-rouser.

Next year in form one, you will be suspended not for something you did, but because of that big mouth you were so blessed with. But don't try to tame that mouth, it will come in handy later. Trust me.

You will meet a fellow called Wachira in High School and he will make your life hell. If you can stay away from him, the better. Students from Kieni Girls will confuse the puberty and adolescent in you. They are pretty girls and very sharp too and you will find yourself "pushing" with some although you will never see them again after high school.

All that talk about you marrying them after school is a lie; she's married and has two kids. I saw her yesterday and she's expecting her third child! Ok, enough with girls. You will not like Maths at any one point in your life. This is pretty much where you and maths part ways but don't worry, you will not be a engineer or anything like that. Phew!

High school will be fun, you will meet some fellows called Mungai, Jackson Kamau and Wallace. You will start rapping and fool yourselves that you can be the next big thing after Kalamashaka. Let me be frank, you won't. Even Mizizi won't feature you but you will be entertaining other students during Drama and Music festivals where you will be mini celebrities and the girls will love you. Not bad, right?

College will be fun, study hard and make mummy proud. She will buy you tons of those shiny things they put on your neck at graduation and force you to wear them in all the pictures. Don't fret, they will provide moments of laughter later on.

Enjoy being a kid, having no worries in life knowing that whatever you want will be provided for. You are a responsible guy with a bright future, don't waste it.

Peace,
From your future,
Phil

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

THE REAL AFRICAN WORLD CUP

The world cup is here and there are a few things I expected to find that would make it “proudly African”.

We know it’s a global event and it is therefore expected to adhere to international standards but it is our world cup right?

We have used the vuvuzela to make the global event even African, meaning nothing can stop us from applying African nuances to it. Time, for instance. I don’t understand this funny business of matches starting on scheduled time.

Why do you think they say “African time” when referring to people who are late? This is something we have perfected over the years. Why should we lose it just because England, Italy and America are here? They are our guests, they have to play by our rules.

I want a scenario where the referee arrives at a match 30 minutes late, saunters to the centre of the field, looks at his watch and says: “Boss, hiyo traffic leo ni mwenda. Mmepitia wapi nyinyi?” (That traffic is crazy, how did you guys manage?”) He should do this knowing very well that the roads have been closed for the benefit of teams and officials . Just as he is about to start the match, he gets word that one of the goalkeepers is late.

Everybody is on their phones trying to reach him but he is “mteja”. The keeper shuffles in after one hour looking amazed at what time it is. The ref is now so pissed you would think he slept at the stadium. “I didn’t expect the kick off so early?” he protests.

If the game is supposed to start at 4pm, it starts at 6pm or is altogether cancelled until the next day. You can imagine England and their timekeeping culture getting to the stadium at 2pm, two hours before kickoff only to find an empty stadium.

Worse, even the stadium keeper, the guy with the keys is not around. So they try raising the African World Cup officials and their phones are off. Whenever they ask passersby what happened to the match, they are met with: “What match? Ohh, that one, if it has not started by now, maybe tomorrow.” Rooney and Co cannot believe it but it looks like they are the only one who did not get the memo.

During the match, preferably just before a penalty is taken, it is very ok for a boy to cut across the field, phone in hand yelling “Daddy, it's mum, where did you keep the bedroom keys?” The embarrassed ref, excuses himself and takes the phone and can be heard saying: “Under that Safaricom rug .” After an eternity, he returns and the game continues.

Since when did Africans play football in a “carpeted” area? This green I am seeing is not African. If we wanted an African team to advance, we would have let the grass grow with cows grazing on either side of the pitch.

What is a referee doing with a whistle? Give the damn guy a vuvuzela, secure it on his back like a rifle and let him run around with it. You can imagine when he is blowing to signal a penalty.

He stops, retracts his vuvuzela and blows it as much as possible, gesturing wildly. I doubt the players who are complaining they can’t hear the whistles will have no problem with the vuvuzela.

In a perfect world, that is how a truly African World Cup should have been. But then again, if horses were wishes, they would trample on the dreamers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A THOUSAND APOLOGIES…


I have heard people accuse me of bringing the industry down with my constant advise and observations. People like Nameless are always complaining to my colleagues and fellow artistes that this column is the reason the industry is down.

Well, I would like to offer my sincere apologies. Apologies because this column is the reason artistes go into the studio, spend lots of time and money only to finally come out with a sound that can only be appreciated by cats.

My sincere apologies to all actors, producers and writers of shows like ‘Nairobi Law,’ which has no flow, probably the second worst acting ever exhibited on Kenyan TV after ‘Cobra Squad.’ I am sorry that this column has picked up those things that everybody else seems to be thinking but are afraid to voice.

Please accept my sincere apologies for being the reason a very promising (allegedly) comedian like Omosh is off air. I solely accept that this column was the reason he was unfunny, uncreative, boring and nobody watched the show. You may not know this but this column is to blame that this boy’s hair wasn’t combed as well.

I hope you will find it in you to forgive me, the writer of the column, that I am hard to please and I demand the best from an industry with people whose sense of high quality is as sharp as that of a sheep.

I feel really bad that much of radio has gone to the dogs. I feel the column is to blame that radio presenters no longer have any meaningful content to share with the listeners. That all they do is give us a couple of boring sex or relationship stories then ask us to call is completely on me.

My dear readers, this column accepts the stories by Kenyan artistes that I influence you on everything I write. I am sorry dear artistes that you expect your fans to swallow everything you spew because they should be supporting everything Kenyan, no matter how stupid it is.

So allow me to finally say that Kenyan artistes are the best in the world. They are perfect, full of talent and if I ever said they had done something wrong like producing some useless track, I was wrong.

So here’s to the artistes who want to be the best in the world but don’t you dare compare them to the best. That is how best they are!
Sincerely yours
HEAT

NB: This article ran on the SN BUZZ Magazine's HEAT column on Sunday 06/06/2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards: Brave Hearts


Going to an AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia duel requires a lot of spine. The fans were known to be the leading cause of stone-related injuries in the country and, even though statistics show the trend is slowly taking a dip, you never know when they may decide to rekindle those memories.

If you ask me, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards were formed during a fight between the Luhyas and Luos and in between they decided to engage in a soccer match. Remember how the Spartans in "300" fought in the shade of arrows? I think that's how these two teams played back in the day when soccer was played by real men.

Anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind last week and headed for the Nyayo National Stadium for a thriller between the arch-enemies. In the company of a die-hard Gor fan and registered AFC member, I felt safe — and figured I could claim allegiance to whichever side that showed promise in winning the stone fest.

The atmosphere was as I expected: electric. How these fans group themselves in the stadium remains a mystery to me. You’ll never find them mixed, ever.

So I found myself a space in the ‘VIP’ section of the arena, the part of the establishment where the ‘neutral’ masses follow the proceedings in their sparkling dark suits and sparkling mineral water at the ready.

Don’t, however, let the suits fool you. They guys can — and will — descend upon you should you be foolish enough to try some nonsense ... like blocking the guy behind you. You only get a warning that lasts a staggering three seconds before you are grabbed from behind and ordered by a hundred guys to put your bum down.

“Ketisha mwili chini buana! Ukitaka kusimama nenda huko!” comes the chorus of barking, angry mouths. Question, where is “Huko”? That’s their preferred dismissal word. You start coughing, “Enda kohoa huko” somebody lets a stinker rip, “Enda nyambia huko” You can’t win against these fellows.

Not even the coaches of either sides dare ignore their demands. These people run the show, including calling for substitutes and ending the match (sometimes in a hail of stones).

If you think rugby has the best cheering squads ever, you have never been to a Gor vs Leopards clash. Man, if you are a hamstrung player in the field, you pray that you don’t lose the match, otherwise you will be eaten alive.

And, speaking of losing, this is the biggest test for the fans. I don’t have a choice team in the Kenya Premier League although I was forcefully given a team, Thika United, after one of my pals announced I didn't support any of the two. Soon, words like “Nyinyi watu wa mananasi mutaenda huko” were being dished out.

I decided to cheer both teams ... but forgot my neutrality when AFC scored. Engulfed in the spirit of the moment, I stood up and clapped long enough for AFC fans to see I was with them, but short enough for the Gor diehards not to notice.

I was still smarting from my momentary lapse of judgment when the stadium started to echo with a supremacy battle between the Luos and Luhyas.
“Obama! Odinga! Oliech!” shouted the Luos, to whom the Luhyas replied: “Musalia! Marende! Mariga!”

Call it whatever call it you may, but this maniac loyalty to one’s tribe is the best display of positive ethnicity I have encountered in recent times.
Most people where I was started finding their way out five minutes before the end to avoid the flying stones trilogy.

There was no sense of order, it was a free environment and I loved every bit of it. That is why, me and the "Mananasi express" (Thika United) will be at the stadium when these two bulls meet again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hanging Out With Celebrities


Being a celebrity looks like lots of fun to us ordinary folk. Know what's not fun? Hanging out with them.

For some strange reason, people zone out in front of celebrities. I mean really zone out. You might as well be their well-endowed naked brother; the fans will not notice you even if you were swinging youryou know what like a noose. (No wait, they will notice that)

I say this because I have been in this situation several times.In case you are wondering, I don't hang around celebrities; it’s the nature of my job, that's all you need to know.

The few times I have been in their "hallowed" presence, my self esteem has taken a beating. Not because of the people I am around but because I look like every other hanger-on and groupie whose space I have taken up, albeit momentarily.

Posers have a wretched past. MC Hammer had a posse of around 45 hungry illiterate men and they are the ones who managed to "touch this" and sent the guy and his parachute trousers tumbling down to the land of bankruptcy. I do not want to be associated with that kind of history.

I feel like there is some parent thinking to themselves: "What a waste. Is that all he could do with himself? What does his mother say his son does?" I should warn you I have a very proud mother—proud of how she raised her children, and when I am around a celebrity, I feel like I am dishonouring her.

Hanging with celebs means you run the risk of being the guy picking his nose at the back when their picture hits the press. If you are on the picture, the caption reads; "Celebrity blah, blah poses with an unknown admirer...." You cannot win I tell you.

I need to make one thing clear. I am not dismissing celebrities. Some are brilliant people with great minds and attitudes, and we spend time together on a regular basis. There’s a big difference between hanging out with and spending time with. Got it? No? Too bad; maybe it’s just an excuse.

The bouncer tag was attached sometime back, I was with a what we call in entertainment circles, a “celebrity couple”. We were walking into a club when, out of nowhere, some girl screamed as she staggered, okay, let's say she ran, towards the celebrity duo.

I never knew drunken people had such speed and balance; her screaming would be grounds for divorce if I were the boyfriend. But did she care? I have seen rioters with more decorum than she had.

After all the running and screaming, she gets to the couple and guess what she says? "Oh my God, I am speechless," Really? After all the screaming? She could have fooled me.

The couple are basking in the midnight fan love and adoration and are all smiles. I am at the back looking on with my hands in my pockets totally disappointing my dear mother who still wonders what it is I do when I’m awake at midnight.

She still demands answers whenever she calls me and I tell her I am "out". "What are you doing out at this hour? Do you have a sweater?" The love of a mother!

Back to our groupie. After what seemed like years, she finally asked: "Can I hug you?" (Not me, the stars) It’s a yes, and she squeezes the two like they are cute puppies. Then decided she needed an autograph, and that is where drama began.She had some paper but no pen.

She fumbled through her "Guchi" handbag (I kid you not, looks like the House of Gucci is expanding fast and catering to the local market), but there was no pen.

Then it happened. It was a light bulb moment for her. She looked up, froze for a second then stared me in the eye, and like a scene from a karaoke gig, I could read what she was about to say before she said it.

She turned to me and ordered: "Bouncer, bouncer, give me a pen!"

I saw it coming, but once it left her mouth, it still surprised me. She grabbed me and looked at me like I was the dog that ate the homework. Her grip was tight and with purpose; she wanted an autograph and not even the lack of a pen could deny her.

I just walked away wondering what it was that made her not see I was just a friend of the stars and not a bouncer. With all due respect to bouncers, I am not built in that way, I have a "soft" stare, and my voice is friendly.

Oh well, the joys of hanging around stars.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

FACELIFT? TRY KENYATTA MARKET!



You need to watch one of those American shows where they do cosmetic surgery and you realise these people really do have money.
One such surgery is liposuction. In liposuction, a vacuum-like structure is inserted beneath the skin then sucks up all the fat leaving you with a lean stomach albeit with an ugly sagging skin.

Then there is tummy tuck and other surgeries that rich people decide to splash their money on. But there is one cosmetic surgery, a facelift, I realised we can do in Kenya for as little as Sh1,000 at Kenyatta Market. A facelift.

Two weeks ago I met a girl and she had one of those “Chinese eyes” and they looked like they had been transferred to the forehead. It was as if she had to tilt her head backwards to see properly because they were almost at the spot where the hairline starts.

I remembered my own sisters used to come home looking like her. The girl's skin was tight, real tight, and that's when I remembered, Dr 90210 on the E Channel had a “patient” who wanted her face skin to be tightened. I can bet she had to part with thousands of dollars for that operation and here was, let’s call her Vicky because, well, that’s her real name, who had the same operation for Sh1,200.

Come on, isn’t this a talent we can export to the US? We can land in Kenyatta market, round up a few of the stylists and voila, Kenya will be mentioned in the fashion circles and not just the usual athletics.

Anyone see my business sense? All these women walking in town with extremely tight facial skin did not have needles stuck on their beautiful faces to numb their pain, they did not have to undergo anaesthesia and their skin mutilated. All they did was hop into a Ngumo Estate bound “Hoppa”, and drop off at Kenyatta Market where someone pounces on their hair and starts plaiting as they haggle over the price.

If you are in a hurry (FYI, all this info came from my sisters) whoever finally “won” your head calls for backup, you are forced to sit on the cold floor as they hoist their dress revealing everything, (thank God there are no men around unless they are gay) and start plaiting.

I am told the facelift-cum-plaiting takes two hours and you have to blink severally to confirm that your eyes are working and can see from their new position at the forehead. You pay and voila, a job that would have taken a surgeon in Beverly Hills five hours to do and a month to heal takes two hours and you can even run after a City Hoppa! The only problem I am told is that you can’t touch the hair for two days!

This is one project I am willing to undertake and ya’ll can laugh but when I am sitting on the Oprah couch talking about my “ingenious bloodless facelift procedure” and the crowd will be full of “Awww that's so sweet” and some even crying, you will take me seriously! I will even add the “It's a procedure that’s very environmentally friendly and does not contribute to global warming” just to have Oprah hug me!

So all you Westerners looking for facelifts, look no further. Africa has the solution, you can save your money what with the recession and maybe you can use it to adopt another child since African kids are accessories!

So Kenyatta market, I salute all the women who do bloodless cosmetic surgery everyday. Keep it up. Up yours Dr 90210!

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