Saturday, 21 February 2015

Suluman “Sulu” Chimbetu and record label Diamond Studios clash.

THE six-year romance between multi-award-winning dendera musician Suluman “Sulu” Chimbetu and record label Diamond Studios is teetering on the brink of collapse.

So bad are the relations, that Sulu had to abandon a seven-track album that he had recorded with the stable. The artiste ended up recording a whole new album, now known as “Gunship”, elsewhere, after the relationship with Diamond Studios broke down.

Though both sides have chosen to be diplomatic with regards to the current status of their relationship, indications are that the once vibrant rapport has come to an end. Signs of a rift emerged last year when Sulu aka Captain Sulu recorded his latest offering, “Gunship” with a private studio in the capital.
Suluman “Sulu” Chimbetu and record label Diamond Studios clash.
The dendera musician has been recording with Diamond Studios since 2009.

But information obtained by this publication last week indicates that Sulu and his camp recorded two albums in 2014, one with Diamond Studios and another privately.

Only one album, “Gunship”, with 11 songs, got to see the light of day.

Diamond Studios is currently holding on to the uncompleted album, which they hope Sulu will complete. However, some of the songs on the unfinished album were recorded on “Gunship” leading to the conclusion that Captain Sulu has indeed abandoned ship.

To further cement the conclusion that the two (Sulu and Diamond Studios) have parted is the fact that the dendera crooner did not renew his contract with the studio last year when it expired. Instead he opted to sign a third party contract that only entitles Diamond Studios to market and distribute “Gunship” without any rights to the album. Since joining Diamond, Sulu and the Orchestra Dendera Kings have always signed a full contract, which gave the studio (Diamond Studios) exclusive rights to package, market and distribute the musician’s work.

Diamond Studios marketing and artiste manager John Muroyi last week confirmed his stable was still to solve an album conundrum created last year by the dendera camp.

“It is true that Sulu recorded two albums last year, one with us and the other one with a private studio. On the incomplete album in our possession, he intended to feature Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo but the plan did not come to fruition prompting him (Sulu) to move to another stable in search of a new deal,” he said.

But important to note though is the verity that all is not well with the record label’s artistes roaster.

In the past year or so, Diamond Studios has lost artistes like Kudzi Nyakudya, Joice Simeti, Somandla Ndebele, Romeo Gasa and First Farai, among many others due to contractual disagreements.

Misunderstandings with artistes have often left the stable in the cold after the concerned artistes terminate working relations.

And the logical conclusion is either the studio authority is iron fisted or has an unsolvable crisis at hand that is threatening to destroy the little they have achieved thus far.

Though there is a clear indication that Sulu has opened a new chapter with regards to production, the Diamond Studios official believes the dendera crooner will bounce back and conduct “full-time” business with them.

He hopes to continue with the investment that they had already kick-started on the project.

“The album will be released this year after we have discussions with Sulu. I know that some of the songs featured on the project we have were recorded on ‘Gunship’ but adjustments can still be made to the project,” said Muroyi, adding, “Sulu is a gentleman and I don’t think he will be giving us any problems.

The incomplete album in Diamond Studios’ custody has seven tracks, two of which were redone and are part of Sulu’s latest offering “Gunship”.

Orchestra Dendera Kings publicist Joe “Local” Nyamungoma was evasive when asked to comment on their future prospects with the Steady Munyanyi-owned record label. He, nonetheless, confirmed that they had since changed their contract with no plans of reversing the current standing.

“We made some changes to our working relationship, but the good thing is we are still working together. But it should be noted that we are not obliged to produce the album with them.

“Our options are now open and that (recording) can be done anywhere else,” he said. Nyamungoma added that plans to fine-tune some of the tracks featured on the unreleased album had already been set in motion.

“Some songs from the album in Diamond Studios’ possession were released on ‘Gunship’. We are going to get those that were not released and modify them to suit changes in market trends, meaning this time around we will be bringing a new production much earlier,” he added.
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