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Art & Music: Yusupha Ngum Determined To Reach The

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Printed on: 29 Jun 2022


Topic author: Momodou
Subject: Art & Music: Yusupha Ngum Determined To Reach The
Posted on: 28 Dec 2007 21:41:42

Art & Music
Yusupha Ngum Determined To Reach The Zenith Of Music
By Musa Barrow

Yusupha Ngum, son of a Senegambian musician, Musa Ngum, in this edition of the Art and Music, talks about a whole range of issues. The promising Gambian musician shares his opinion on the state of Gambian music and the way forward.
Yusupha Ngum also talks about his determination to continue the legacy of his legendary father, whose glittering musical career continues to serve as a source of inspiration for all aspiring musicians.

Could you give a brief description of yourself?
Well, my name is Yusupha Ngum, born in The Gambia, aged over twenty, and known as Jollofman. Music is my profession.

What was your first musical engagement?
As most people would recall, my first engagement was with the Galaxy Crew where we played rap music.

How was Galaxy Crew founded and who were the original members?
Yusupha: Basically, Galaxy Crew was founded by my friend, Micky Boy, and I in 1998. The crew was formed at a time when rap music was at its very peak. The whole idea came during a stroll on the beach when I asked my friend why we could not form our own musical group. This idea was wholeheartedly accepted by my friend and that was when everything kicked off.

When was the first single of Galaxy Crew released and where was it recorded?
Our first two tracks, “Neteki: and “My Lover” were released in 1998 and 1999, respectively. And these singles were recorded at the Gallant Studio, located in Bundung.

What was Galaxy Crew’s first album, when was it released and how many tracks did it contain?
Our first album was entitled “Bamba’ it was released in September 2000 and it consists of seven tracks.

Where was this first album entitled “Bamba” recorded?
“Bamba” was recorded at Ndanaan B Studio, located in Serrekunda, and owned by one Mr. Ma Ebou Secka, a producer, who really helped us as it was through him that we realized that music is our career.

Apart from your album entitled “Bamba” did Galaxy Crew release any other album?
Apart from “Bamba”, Galaxy Crew did release two other albums entitled “Peace and Blessing” and “Toloff Toloff”

When did you start your solo musical career and what was the name of your first album?
I started my first solo musical career in 2005 when I released my first album entitled “Ndigal”, which means command. “Ndigal” was done in a “mbalax” style and it truly brought me to prominence.

What brought about this dramatic change of style from rap to “mbalax”?
This shift from rap to “mbalax” was prompted by the fact that rap music is now a days less popular when compared to “mbalax”. And as an upcoming artist, one always looks for avenues that can earn him/her the much needed popularity.

How many tracks does this “Ndigal” album contain, and where was it recorded?
“Ndigal” contains six tracks and was recorded at Yellow Gate Studio, at Kairaba Avenue, by Elle Nacif. The sound of the album was engineered by a renowned Senegalese sound engineer called Owe Ndoye. Mr. Ndoye is an expert in sound engineering and had worked with many prominent Senegalese artists. I truly appreciated Mr. Ndoye’s contribution.

What impact do you think Mr. Ndoye’s contribution has made on “Ndigal”?
Without any doubt, the contribution of Mr. Ndoye and Kebba Taylor, who directed the album, enhanced its popularity significantly. I’m really glad to work with such professionals, their help was tremendous.

You said you truly appreciated Mr. Ndoye’s help. Does that mean that his services were of no cost to you?”
If you want a good service you have to give out something. Mr. Ndoye’s services were never free. I had to give him something which was budgeted.

May I know what inspired you to become a musician?
The answer to that question is very simple. I was born to be a musician, because my father, Musa Ngum, was a musician. Although my musical career began in 1998, music had always been part of me, because I was brought up in a musical environment. I really like music and I’m trying to surpass my father. By doing
so I would definitely make him proud.

How do you see the state of music in The Gambia?
The state of music in the country is not very encouraging. More support should be given to the musicians. The artists in this country also deserve respect.
Artists from other countries are fully respected and given their rightful place in society. This is what is needed in this country too, so that artists in turn can be able to meaningfully contribute to the socio-economic development of this nation. I believe one thing that I can do is to reach the peak of music and by
doing so Gambia will be prominently marketed on the global map.

From what you have said earlier, are you saying that artists in this country are not getting the necessary assistance they deserve?
Yes, all the artists in this country are struggling due to the fledgling state of music in this country. The type of assistance I am advocating for is the enactment of a Copyright law, which I believe would be a significant milestone in the history of music in this country.

By advocating for a Copyright law, are you suggesting that piracy is rampant in this country?
Well, as far as we the upcoming artists are concerned, piracy is not an immediate threat to us. This is because we are relatively unknown. But it is a problem for renowned artists like my father, Musa Ngum. It is unfair for artists to work hard to produce an album only for it to be pirated by unscrupulous elements. Such practice is a factor that can hinder the progress of our music industry.

Recently, I have interviewed a veteran Gambian artist who pointed out that young Gambian artists imitate the American or Jamaican style of music. What is your response to that criticism?
That criticism is quite right, but the absence of a music school in this country, where one can undergo professional training is responsible for this. So these artists, after having the desire to become musicians, are influenced by foreign musicians. However, imitating foreign musicians is, in fact, a starting
point. When they get the necessary exposure, they will be able to sing their own songs. I, myself, started as a rap musician, but when I realized my potential I was able to shift to “mbalax”.

How do you see the intervention of companies in the music industry?
The intervention of companies in the music industry is a good thing, because all that the artists in this country need is support. And it is really good that companies in the country are investing in the music industry. May I use this opportunity to disclose that my new album which is due to be released in the New
Year is sponsored by Gamcel.

Do you think the music of upcoming Gambian artists is frequently played on the radio and television stations?
As far as I am concerned, my music is frequently played on the radio and television stations. I can also testify that I have frequently seen the music of many upcoming Gambian artists on the television. But despite that Gambian music deserves better promotion. Another thing worth pointing out is that in other countries, like Senegal, if one’s music is played on television he/she gets something from that. This is because a copyright law is in place. In fact, I am registered with a copyright body in Senegal known as BSDA. Registering with this
company means anytime my music is played on television I will get some financial benefit. I’m calling for the same thing to be introduced in this country.

You are one of those Gambian artists who often move from Gambia to Senegal. Is this frequent movement linked to your artistic interest?
Yes, my frequent movements from Gambia to Senegal are very much linked to the pursuit of my artistic interest. As an artist, one needs to conduct research in as many countries as possible. It is also worth noting that my next album is being produced in Senegal and it is going to feature prominent Senegalese artists.

As an artist who knows both Gambia and Senegal, how would you compare the state of music in these two countries?
There is a vast difference in the state of music in the two countries. The value of art and culture is known in Senegal. For Gambian music to flourish it must be industrialized.

How would you define the role of artists in a society?
As an artist, one is a cultural actor. Artists educate people and build and consolidate peace. Artists can also be used as a tool to uproot and expose all forms of menaces going on in society, such as corruption.

You have just mentioned corruption. Are you one of the artists who are ready to be the voice of the voiceless and oppressed?
Legendary musicians like Bob Marley stood for the oppressed, the voiceless and the common man in the street. Any one who wants to be a true musician must follow his footsteps. Although Bob Marley did not have the best voice, he still stood out as one of the best musicians the world has ever known. This is due to the conscious messages he preached in his music.

Can we expect you to be radical and bold in your effort to stamp out corruption?
One fundamental philosophy of mine is respect for all. I’m going to address some of the menaces in the most respectful manner. However, after having said so, no amount of intimidation, harassment or threat can prevent me from saying what I want to express.

You have made reference to your new album earlier, what is the title of this album, and who are those prominent Senegalese that are to be featured in your new album?
I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet. I want it to be a total surprise to the audience.

When can we expect this album to be released?
This album is expected in the New Year, precisely in the first half of the New Year.

Let us now reflect a bit on your musical career. When did you first perform on stage and how was it like?
My first performance on stage was in March 1999 during a show organized by Oussou Njie Senor. That day stands out to be a red letter day for me and the experience is simply unforgettable.

How do you see the mass migration of African youths to Europe?
It is a desperate measure to earn themselves and their families something.
African leaders must do something about it, because that was why people voted for them. Failure to provide job opportunities for the youth is unacceptable.

To what extent did your father inspire you to play music?
The inspiration of my father was quite obvious. But I realized that music is the best career for me. I could have chosen football as my career, because I was good at it.

What benefits do you get from your registration with the Senegalese Copyright body BSDA?
Apart from one’s social security benefits, one is also entitled to royalties even seventy years after one’s death.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readers.
It is a great pleasure, thank you.

Source: Foroyaa Newspaper Burning Issue
Issue No. 150/2007, 27 December, 2007

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