If we were to describe the music of 2016 using anything we learned in school, it would be, “the year of the displacement theory.” From the onset, 2016 showed a lot of promise for hardworking rising musicians. As 2015 got to a close, Kulukuta by Fortune Spice and Coopy Bly established the two as musicians to look forward to in 2016. In order of preference, these are the musicians who make it to the top ten list of contemporary musicians in Uganda.
At number one, Fortune Spice will have to be the artiste of the year. The reason is this; prior to late 2015, it seemed the whole industry key players were unaware of what an authentic musician Fortune Spice is. A lot of his works, including Nkwambale, Nabila with Phila Kaweesa among others, though great, did not receive much airplay. Against this background, Fortune Spice’s hard work on Kulukuta (with Coopy Bly), Daala, Nkutwale Eka, Making Jesus Famous, and Nanyini Kampala (with Robinsan) have all been massive hits in 2016. Fortune Spice has pretty much ruled throughout the year.
At number two, previously little known D Reign Tony has been a top musician in 2016 for sure. Since the release of Babawo (Baba), the musician who doubles as a producer has never missed being on heavy rotation. He followed this with songs like Christian Kungfu, Oh Lah Lah (with Zabuli), Gwe (with Coopy Bly) among other songs. The musician has a sound of his own and has helped other musicians including Lyrical Mycheal craft his second major radio hit single, Pregnant. D Reign has beaten many musicians to making it to the coveted Phat Fest Artiste list. If his 2017 is anything like 2016, he might just be the best male artiste in 2017.
Zabuli is at number three. Among all female musicians, it is no doubt that Zabuli made it big in 2016. Just like D Reign with whom they collaborated on Oh Lah Lah, you cannot fail to have noticed this teacher by profession. She too was a first-timer as a Phat Fest 2016 musician. She had songs like Aerial which upto now many critics did not fully understand but is a gospel-music-fans favorite, Numbye Bulamu and Appy, a song that got everyone saying, “Who is that lady who murdered those Riddim beats?”
At number 4, it would be Coopy Bly. Already a big artiste with a huge following, Coopy Boy’s What A Love, Beautiful God, Batusinzaki, a feature in Kulukuta all set him above many musicians. Among his counterparts, Holy Keane, and Levixone, Coopy Bly who held a “One Last Time” concert definitely stood out in 2016. It was no surprise that he bagged the Male Artiste of the year accolade at HIT Awards 2016.
Ruyonga, and Coopy Bly should have tied at number 4 but, we will give him number 5. The Rapper whose Glory Fire album received a nomination at the inaugural Uganda (Ug) Hip Hop Awards 2016 received tremendous airplay. In addition to music from Glory Fire, singles like Shule, I Know (by Robinsan) and his performance in Baby Gloria’s DNA set him high above the crop. It was no surprise when Ekitakumenya brought home the Ug Hip Hop Awards 2016 for Inspirational song of the year. The same song is nominated in VIGA AWARDS.
Surprise! Surprise! Yes! Brian Lubega is our number six. He doesn’t come off as very energetic like those topping this list, but contemporary Gospel Music lovers loved his music in 2016. This needs no explanation at all. Given his appeal to our love for worship music, Brian Lubega sole-handedly kept the fire burning this year with songs like Wegukubira, Kubayita, Wakitiibwa, Assanide among others. He beat the odds, and released an album in a successful ‘Amazing Grace’ concert. He actually deserves a node in the Male Artiste of the year category.
Robinsan, saved by two big collaborations, I Know (with Ruyonga), Nanyini Kampala (with Fortune Spice) and his singles like Ntukula and Jangu Nkulage, he is our number 7. Jangu Nkulage opened the doors for him in 2016,and the release of an amazing music video helped him reach greater heights. When Ntukula was released, Robinsan sealed the deal, and the support given by the two collaborations guarantee his spot on this list. He maintained his spot.
At number 8, we would have to give it up for New Chapters Africa. As soon as they released the audio for Binji and followed it with what was reported as very expensive music video, all they needed was a couple of singles to stay on top. Nabibuse among others kept them on top. They received a lot of airplay this year.
Phila Kaweesa would have to make it to this at number 9. His Offuge Mukama was one of the top songs in the first half of 2016 receiving the lion’s share of radio airplay. He was joined by his brother Richie Kaweesa. The two later released a tribute song for their departed father and then Phila went on a music releasing spree with hits like The Wedding Song among others which might have not received as much airplay as Offuge Mukama.
Justine Nabosa is our number 10. Let that sink in. While at it, check out Oli Katonda and her album. Thank us later.
According to this writer, those are the top 10 contemporary Gospel musicians of 2016. Feel free to comment here with the musicians you feel are missing on this list and why you think they should have been included.