“Quality is what calls attention,” or some cool maxim like that accompanies the gait of an equally cool, suited, dark-skinned man with his shimmery clean-shaven head, then just before he reaches his destination of god-knows-where, a tagline for the English Blazer fragrance is introduced and the little bottle juxtaposed with its box appear at the corner of the screen.
I don’t care for English Blazer, I don’t wear it anyway. But what called my attention (excuse the pun) about that TV commercial is that quote about quality.
Which then quickly brought to my remembrance the analyses I had been making about the quality of the product served to the public by Lesotho’s music artists. It is worth mentioning that there has truly been an impeccable change in the production of music, which could make it viable to be played elsewhere in this small world without harsh criticism that it sounds like something recorded on a cell-phone.
Growth in that department has been substantial with a number of these new young producers ensuring that they master the craft to perfection, Black Steel being a noteworthy (inevitable pun, excuse it too) name to mention and SJizzle too. Most songs which garnered wide-spread mainstream success in the country and in some instances even in the territory of our neighbor just beyond the Caledon, in the last two years, usually began with the tag “Take notes on Steel“. Just that, those four words, guaranteed stellar production. You should recall JCob’s Ke Teng and Jiji F‘s Papa Ka Lebesss which both contain that omnipotent tag.
I could drone on about Black Steel’s production prowess and all that jazz but this is not an exposé about him, unfortunately. And I should get back to the core of this article lest I seem biased or suchlike. Something which, sadly, does not match up to the exponential growth in the quality of production is the videos. Some videos are disappointing accompaniments to songs which are otherwise impressive. This, in my opinion, is half-baking; offering of a great tune but not going the extra mile to ensure that the video is up to a similar standard. It is fact that our Lesotho artists do not profit from their music as much as their counterparts, especially South African ones.
However, it is disrespectful to the public which supports the music to be served a flimsy product and then expected to like it still, without reservations, because the artist has worked hard on it. True enough, hard work is laudable on every level but not when quality is compromised. These artists work extremely hard to make and market their music but in such cases where bad videos are concerned, that hard work is shrouded by negligence and the desire to just have a video, even if it is mediocre.
One video which comes to mind is of an artist who regards himself highly as a pioneer of hip hop in this country and I won’t mention his name for fear of reprisal. Okay, that’s hardly true; I just don’t point fingers where it is unnecessary. But this particular video was in fact a horrible adaption of a relatively good song. It was grainy, the lighting was off and the female portrayed in the video as his lady-love had terribly chipped nail polish. Not minding the technicalities of the video, because I am no expert in that, the chipped nail polish is what put me off the most.
Just that tiny aspect showed me that no care was taken in creating the video. How and why did they allow that lady – who I must admit was pretty – to appear in the video with chipped nail polish? I know that females who appear in videos here are usually relatives and friends and friends’ relatives, unlike in places where music is highly profitable where models are hired for that, and are incredibly kempt because it is their job. Nevertheless, it is inexcusable that she did not re-do her nails and that the director of the video or the producer or the artist or whoever did not urge her to do so. Time constraints might not have allowed her to re-do even if she had been told off, which probably wouldn’t have mattered to the people involved, because of per-hour payment perhaps, but it is still unacceptable.
That half-bakedness doesn’t exemplify the dedication which these artists put into their work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that they should go out of their way to deliver expensive, glitzy videos to the masses but attention to detail is key in drawing the attention of the public and keeping it. So, in my being put off by the chipped nail polish, I changed the channel and didn’t care to listen to the song. Now, imagine if fifty other people at that point shared the same sentiments as me and changed the channel too. The entire artist’s work will have been in vain for serving a half-baked product to a crowd that is very much difficult to impress. Therefore, artists, kindly take heed to paying attention to detail in your work because ultimately it represents your vision and if the work is unimpressive then that vision is distorted.