The late 90s and early 2000s produced some of the best music all over the world. From the R&B classics like Ushers ‘My Way’ to hip-hop all-time favorites like Jay-Z’s ‘Blue Print 2’. All these genres influenced one of Zambia’s Iconic artiste’s Exile – now known as Izrael – to release a classic album of his own, the Romaside-produced ‘So Lucky’.
In November 2017, Izrael revealed, in several tweets, how he started out as a Zambian musician. He talks about meeting Leo of Black Muntu and telling him that he wanted to introduce something new to Zambian music. Of course Leo, at the peak of Black Muntu’s fame, looked at Izrael like he was out of his mind. “It was [around] the years 1999/2000. At the time, I remember how hard it was to record a song, we only had about three studios in Lusaka and they were not cheap. But I will always appreciate about people like Leo Muntu & the late great Joe Chibangu [because] they gave me a chance.
Izrael says Mondo music aimed to create only the best music so songs had to be done over and over until Chisha Folotiya was satisfied. “Mondo music trained me to be a perfectionist because we just never put out music until after it was good enough. The “house, money, car” song that people now know was actually the 2nd version of that song, original version never came out. I appreciate Chisha Folotiya for that because he [made sure] we our best at all times.”
It looks all rosy, but with heavy weights like Daddy Zemus and Amayenge with frontman Chris Chali, it was not easy to break into Zambian music yet it gave new artistes a chance to come up with their own sound “[These guys] were just winding up so it was a beautiful time. It wasnt about the money because at the time there wasn’t much to be made, I just wanted to make good music, Zambian music.” The song writer and singer says he is willing to help other upcoming artistes and pass the torch because thats how he was taught. “Chris Chali always taught me to nurture the ones coming up and I will always love that man for this. He taught me to plant a seed and never be selfish.
If you help nobody who will remember you?” he asks. Izrael’s career has seen him do other things outside his music, but he says his love for music is never dying. “Music is my life, I have had opportunities to be other things but the one thing that always gives me life is music all the time.” Izrael says he believes that as a nation we have something to offer to the world, not just in music but in different aspects. “I believe that each one of us has a gift & it doesn’t have to be in the arts, believe it or not we are a unique brand of people.”