Born Carl Chanda Mbao in Zambia, life has taken this young phenomenon around the world. A self-declared ‘rolling stone’, Chanda has lived in Zambia, Spain and the United States, with many, many other travels in between. His journey with music began at a young age, with the classic album Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg. Later, Chanda would become enthralled with East Coast legends, including Nas, who would become his favorite MC. At the callow age of nine, Chanda decided that he could rap too and he began penning his first verses. Many rhyme books later, Chanda has now arrived.
While living in the United States he would attend the University of Miami to study Economics and International Studies. Now back in his home country, he has released two hugely successful singles , ‘Ifyapa Mwesu’ and ‘Selfish’ , the latter gaining an impressive 25000 views on YouTube within the first 3 weeks of the music videos release .
We caught up with Chanda for an interview:
KAPA187: You have been in the music industry for some time now, but there are some who are just getting to know now. Briefly tell us about yourself.
CHANDA MBAO: I’m a young Zambian artist who’s incredibly passionate about music, particularly the Hip-Hop genre. Musically, I’ve always strived for balance in terms of having a layer of meaning and message but also trying to craft sonically appealing music.
KAPA187: Tell us about your current single “selfish”. What was the inspiration for that song?
CHANDA MBAO: Selfish is a story I feel a lot of us young professionals relate to. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our professional ambitions that we neglect other important aspects of our lives such as our romantic relationships. The inspiration for the song was, clearly, personal experiences of my own and my co-writer of the song, Scott. We actually wrote the song together the very first time we met each other and it was a very organic and productive studio session orchestrated by the mastermind Shom-C himself.
KAPA187: ‘Selfish’ has been praised for having a high quality video. The inclusion of former Big Brother housemate, Maria Nepembe, was a stellar choice. Explain the concept of the video.
CHANDA MBAO: Thank you! In the story of Selfish, I lose my lover, Maria, to a workaholic lifestyle because I fail to make it clear to her that the reason I’m working so hard is to take our relationship to the next level. It’s written to be a mini-tragedy of sorts because the loss is founded partly in failed communication and misunderstanding–she doesn’t know that I’m intending on asking her hand in marriage and I don’t know that she’s about to have my child. These kinds of misunderstandings were centerpieces to the plot lines of the Shakespearean tragedies so I took inspiration from that when I was writing the script.
KAPA187: So far ‘Selfish’ has attained 25 000 plus views on YouTube in a matter of weeks. This is no small feat for a local artist. Did you anticipate the overwhelmingly positive response?
CHANDA MBAO: I had a good feeling about the project because we put a lot of work into it but I honestly didn’t see it performing as well as it has in terms of YouTube views. I’m very grateful for the support and working hard to take it to the next level.
KAPA187: Earlier this year you released another single “Ifyapa Mwesu”. In it you discussed your love for Zambia despite living abroad for some time. You have lived in Europe and the US, why did you decide to relocate to Zambia?
CHANDA MBAO: That’s a great question and a difficult one to answer with exactitude. The honest answer is that ever since I was young, I always vowed to settle here. Living abroad was just an opportunity to pursue higher education and gain international experience but I’ve always known I would come back home. It was time.
KAPA187: Zambian music keeps getting better and better every day, but we still seem to fail to make a huge impact outside our borders. What, in your opinion, do local artist need to do about that?
CHANDA MBAO: Basically, we just need to compete on quality from our songwriting, to our production to our music videos. Since we don’t have a large market like Nigeria, for example, to push a volume strategy, our product just needs to be so good that it sells itself on quality. I think in the past, there was a gap between what was considered of an acceptable standard for an international artist vs. a Zambian artist but I think we’re seeing that gap close, for the better.
KAPA187: Your last Mixtape “Desiderata” was released 3 years ago to positive reviews. How, would you say, you have grown as an artist from that time to now.
CHANDA MBAO: I think I’ve learned a lot about writing a complete song. As a Hip-Hop artist you tend to focus a lot on verses, especially if you’re a fan of the old school but your challenge is not neglecting to write really strong hooks and bridges–structuring a song fully such that you make it attractive to different kinds of audiences.
KAPA187: Are you currently working on an album? If so tell us what your fans can expect from it?
CHANDA MBAO: Ironically, I wasn’t planning one but an album has become a reality, organically, simply through being consistent in the studio and working with inspiring and creative individuals such as Shom-C, Shinko Beats, Kaladoshas and Scott. In terms of the sound, you can expect a very varied record which is ultimately rooted in the Hip-Hop genre but is infused with sonic elements from our local scene and other genres as well. My goal is to make something exportable but that can also be embraced by fans of various genres locally, ultimately creating a listening experience where you can go from a song which has a beat you can dance to and is easy to listen to, to a song which is a lot deeper in its lyrical content. I plan on releasing the project towards the end of 2016 or early 2017 with a focus on singles until the full project comes out.
CHANDA MBAO: Besides music, my main line of work is in finance. Additionally, I’m involved with a local start-up company which produces patriotic products–the company’s first product is called Zed Polo Polo, which is a line of Zambian branded polo shirts.
KAPA187: Any last words…
CHANDA MBAO: My final words would be a big thank you to Lusaka Times for being so supportive of the local entertainment scene and artists such as myself who are working hard to put out quality music. I’d also like to thank all the readers and fans who are supporting my endeavors–everyone should feel free to reach out to me on social media. I’m easy to find and always online–Chanda Mbao is my name on all platforms.
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Ifyapa Mwesu (ft. Malz)
Selfish ft Scott