Exclusive: Ragga Dee Speaks Music, Local Awards and Politics

Singer Ragga Dee performing during the 2018 Bayimba international festival.

It is inevitable to talk about the evolution of Uganda’s music without mentioning certain names that have left a mark on the industry. Musicians who even without maintaining a cycle of hit songs year in, year out, can still manage to command applause once they set foot on stage.

One such name is Daniel Kazibwe, known popularly as Ragga Dee. The musician who started singing in 1988 has had a career that spans over three decades.

With over 18 albums under his name, the Award winning singer gained fame in the early 1990s with hits like Bamusakata and Mukwano while part of a group called Da Hommies.

SoftPower News recently sat down with Ragga Dee for an exclusive interview on his past, the journey of his music career and future prospects.

SoftPower News: Tell us about your music as of now.

Ragga Dee: I am in studio producing more great hit songs. My present songs showcase the beauty of African culture which you can truly see in my latest production from my songs Yelle, Selfie, You Are the One and Wololo. It’s time Ugandans realized what good music entails.

SoftPower: What’s the cause of the long silence? Can we say you have retired from the industry?

Ragga Dee: Who says? Music is my business and I am not planning to leave any time soon. I have sang for the last 27 years to be where I am.  Ragga Dee is busy doing music at the international level. If you do not see him, then it’s only you my fans who know where to find me. Just to let you know, I spent two years and seven months in the confines of my house working on some of my latest projects. So I have work boss.

SoftPower: So what’s in stock for your fans?

Ragga Dee: I have recorded 10 songs with their videos. I am looking forward to formally launch these songs before my fans who have supported me all through my musical journey.

SoftPower: You’ve been rare on music stages for performances.

Ragga Dee: I have been performing on several planned and customized events where I meet a couple of my fans. I think it’s time to organize a one off event for all to come through. I have been moving across East Africa with my music. Last year, I had a show at Rwanda Serena Hotel during the EA European Convention.

SoftPower: Is there anything you would rather change in our music industry?

Ragga Dee: If there was a way out, I would call artistes to order and check on the character and match it with their discipline level. The issues of ethics among musicians is lacking or fast deteriorating. We need a background check to ascertain some musicians’ mental capability beyond just having the talent.

SoftPower: What’s your take on current Uganda art / entertainment awards?

Ragga Dee: The current wave of awards have turned into awards for respective gangs or groups and this is a big challenge for the growth of our industry.

Real music and talent has been lost in the hands of self-seeking individuals looking for cash bailout from their investment in the event. Those being a warded forget that before them, there were other stars thus acting like goons which is truly sickening.

I will repeat, awards have turned out to be an issues of recognizing squads and gangs. The same problem has moved to our club Deejays.  Our Deejays are busy promoting the wrong people and songs. Why should they pretend as though all is well when we are not? Our music clubs are dominated with foreign songs as if we have no good songs from Uganda. I would urge them to embrace the Buy Ugandan and Build Uganda thing, and here I would say Play Ugandan music to build Ugandan art space.

SoftPower: How are you dealing with this problem of gang-ism as you said?

Ragga Dee: I decided to sit back and look on because if everyone is happy and celebrating the wrong thing, then who am I to come foster a change. They think they are pushing it right while embracing the mushrooming number of fake awards and music. I think this is a deliberate effort to cripple the industry because they heavily invest. But for some of us who know what we want decided to lay back and work hard behind the noise.

SoftPower: How would you rate awards in the past and now?

Ragga Dee: (Laughs) I will be straight on, PAM Awards was a plus and those who won truly deserved the awards. It was on good will of the fans who tirelessly voted to ensure their preferred artist won. But now, its favoritism, who knows you and what can you offer. Simple.

Awards have turned into a business, organizers lure prominent individual, musicians and promoters to endorse their events with a cost attach and pay with an accolade as gesture of honour. It’s like buying awards indirectly and the winners go jubilating. They should learn to work hard before they celebrate.

SoftPower News: What’s your take on young artistes who are giving you old folks sleepless nights?

Ragga Dee: I have no clue and yard stick to prove which artiste is good and bla blah because I mind my business. There are some many good artistes I know but for one to rubbish the efforts of big name artistes is suicidal. It’s sad most of the big artistes are being pushed to the extreme not because they are not producing good work but front runners including the promoters and media are washed away bureaucratic tendencies.

SoftPower: You seem to be beefing the young uprising artistes

Ragga Dee: No way, I look at things the way they are. I do not beef anyone in the industry because I know what I want, but I am only burdened by how goons have been hired and placed to frustrate the entire industry.

Softpower: Enough of awards and music, how do you balance music, work and your family life?

Ragga Dee: It’s not easy, I know my family misses me whenever I am on a music journey. I bridge the gap when at home by helping take them to school and so on. I appreciate the fact that they know I am a busy man so that keep them and me in check.

SoftPower: What negative tag have you been given during your music career?

Ragga Dee: It’s not easy being a musician because everyone has a divergent view of who you are. They have different mindset or what I would say “Double minded” Imagine an artist being referred to as mad, drunkard, drug addict maybe based on his performance on moments on stage. I think that is stereotype, it’s something most artist cannot react to or correct because it’s an individual’s take.

SoftPower: What is going on with your political life?

I came in the Mayoral race with a mindset and belief to change Uganda by action. I realized that it does not require one to be a Minister or even the President to change the lives of ordinary citizens. Within my means, I had solutions to some of our societal issues and I am still living the dream.

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