Dr. Jose Chameleone, one of East Africa’s most hardworking and most celebrated musicians, is in the country to undertake his project with Coke Studio; iQru recently caught up with him in order to discuss his music, the Coke Studio project. He also talked about his relationship with Diamond and shared a message for teens and upcoming musicians. Read about it below:
Insyder: How important has Kenya been in your musical journey?
Chameleone: Kenya is very important to me in my career; it is where my career began. I tried my luck in Uganda and it didn’t work out, until I came to Kenya and signed my deal with Ogopa Djs. It is also where Mama Mia happened, and Mama Mia is the album that changed my life. I also didn’t know how to speak Kiswahili until I came to Kenya, so I owe a lot to this country.
Insyder: So if I was to ask you your favorite musical project, you would say that it’s Mama Mia?
Chameleone: Absolutely, Mama Mia was the game changer.
Insyder: Briefly tell us about your project with Coke Studio
Chameleone: I was here last year to record for Coke Studio, but I would say that this year it is going to be the biggest so far. There is a lot we have in store, and it is also very special to me because I am going to be recording with Neyma. She doesn’t speak a lot of English, mostly Portuguese, and I don’t speak Portuguese, so it is going to be very interesting to overcome that language barrier.
Insyder: But you must love the challenge, seeing as music is a global language, yes?
Chameleone: Absolutely, in fact she was asking if I could sing in Portuguese!
Insyder: That would be wonderful to hear; while we’re on the subject of artists, do you have a favourite artist to work with?
Chameleone: I have so many favorites, but the one artist I would really love to work with is 2face Idibia; he is a legend in African music, and he is very talented. It would be nice.
Insyder: A fruitful collaboration that would be! Any upcoming musical projects you’d like to share with us?
Chameleone: Yes, I actually do have a collaboration with Koffi Olomide; it’s very unfortunate that the timing is bad, but it is still in the works.
Insyder: You have one of the longest and most illustrious careers in African music; what would you describe as the highlight of your career?
Chameleone: I have had several highlights, but the moment that touched me most is when I sold out the Cricket Oval, and 40,000 people turned up for my ‘Tubonge Live’ concert; the fact that my fans were so dedicated to stay through the rain was a crowning moment for me. It was really great!
Insyder: There are several upcoming musicians who look up to you; what would be your words of advice to them?
Chameleone: I would advise them to be resilient and to anticipate a lot of challenges, such as refusal; I have faced refusal earlier in my career and eventually I did well. They will too if they never give up.
Insyder: What message would you have to the teenagers?
Chameleone: I would advise them to stay positive and to stay away from drugs; it’s one thing to say it and another thing to actually act on it, so I’d advise them to be active in avoiding usage of drugs.
Insyder: One last, question, it was recently mentioned that you believe that Diamond is underrated; do you still believe so?
Chameleone: I have never believed him to be underrated, my statement was twisted; I said that although Diamond is a great East African artist, I am the greatest East African artist, and one person twisted that statement into what you heard. Diamond is very talented; I have spoken with him about it and we have resolved it.
Insyder: So there is no beef?
Chameleone: Not at all; I only meant that I and Diamond in East African music are like Uhuru Kenyatta and Jomo Kenyatta!
(We all laugh heartily at the comparison)
Written by douglaswrites