The fall from the top

Pitch Black Afro and Blondie Makhene were on top of the music game a few years ago. Now they’re getting RDP houses.


That’s how best I could describe my feelings when I received a tip-off that revolutionary music icon Blondie Makhene and kwaito star Pitch Black Afro were going to receive free houses from a charity organisation because they were homeless.

I was shocked because these artists made a lot of money at the zenith of their careers via gigs and record sales.

Pitch Black Afro was one of the most sought-after musicians after releasing his album Styling Gel and charged an appearance fee of between R15 000 and R35 000.

The musician would get more than five gigs in a month, making more than R100 000.

But today Pitch Black Afro is sitting on the bones of his bum with no roof over his head.

The poor financial management of artists, their exploitation by record companies and their own management or public relations companies are the rationale behind their hardship.

Many artists’ lack of financial management can ould be seen immediately after their albums have surpassed gold status.

They demand advances from their record companies, and blow it on designer clothes and expensive cars.

And that is precisely what they say about new money?

Those who were living in the townships before they catapulted to stardom no longer want to live there because that does not suit their status any more.

Instead of saving the money they have made in order to buy themselves houses, they would immediately leave the townships and rent a townhouse in the affluent suburbs, where they paid exorbitant rent.

What makes matters worse for our musicians is that their pockets are further emptied by their cavalier association with women.

Almost every Sunday, we wake up to screaming headlines about women taking these artists to court for papgeld or young vixens who exchanged blows over them.

It is common knowledge that multiple relationships are too expensive to maintain and sustain.

Women expect to be spoiled with gifts on their birthdays, to be phoned and visited.

All these are costly exercises.

And often artists who do not use condoms end up impregnating these women.

Kwaito stars Zola, who fathered four kids with different women, and Mdu Masilela, who has a love child, are classic examples.

Although they are not homeless, it is clear that their money is gobbled up by the maintenance of these kids.

Very soon, they too will become paupers.

Drugs and alcohol also play a part in ruining the lives of artists.

Our record companies are also to blame for artists that fall from grace.

Record companies have the responsibility to educate or advise their artists on how best they can invest their royalties to nip their reckless expenditure in the bud.

Currently, these companies are shirking their responsibilities because they are only interested in the bottom line and don’t care or are careless about the musicians.

PR and management companies are also ripping off their artists.

Many of these companies charge between 20% and 30% for securing gigs for their performers.

For example, if the musician is paid a R100 000 appearance fee, the companies will take R20 000 or R30 000.

That is a rip-off.

Government must also take the blame for the plight of these entertainers.

There is no legislation in place that regulates how much artists’ management companies can charge for rendering their services.

Many musicians rely solely on music to put bread on the table and don’t create other revenue streams or something to fall back on when the chips are down.


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