South Sudan music industry ‘bed of lies’, says Meen
Born Meen Mabior Meen, Meen is a hip hop artist from South Sudan who has been on the frontline advocating for peace through his music in the country. In this elaborate interview with SARAH OSMAN, Meen speaks about his childhood, career and what he thinks of the current state of music industry in South Sudan.
Sarah: Who is Meen Meen?
Meen: I was born Meen Mabior Meen in South sudan but raised in Kenya. I was just six-years-old when my family relocated to Kenya due to the ongoing war in South Sudan.
Kapenguria near Kitale became my home, attending nursery and primary school at Rainbow and Kakuma Refugees Camp primary schools.
Sarah: What kind of a kid were you growing up?
Meen: While growing up, I was an ordinary child who loved making friends and playing football. I didn’t know anything to do with music by then. Like I have mentioned I also did part of my primary classes in Kakuma Refugees camp where I ended up picking an interest in music. This happened during the UNHCR organized talent street shows.
After my primary school, we relocated again to Uganda where I joined secondary at Namirembe Hillside in a place called Gayaza but only did ordinary certificate (O’Level) due to so many unavoidable circumstances.
Sarah: Looking back, if you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing currently?
Meen: I would be a very good footballer because I was that skillful.
Sarah: Alright. You were part of the Coozos Clan founding members…
Meen: That’s right. I started Coozos Clan alongside my crew members Juk Myiik Aka. Lil J (the late), Alleluya Mouwel Aka. Kool Bus, Garang Malong Awan Aka. Rang man and myself.
Sarah: How many songs have you released so far and what’s your favorite of all?
Meen: The songs are quite a handful. Honestly speaking I will not be accurate. I have so many songs and of all that I produced, my all-time favorite is “Ana Gainu” loosely translated to mean ‘I am seeing’. It mainly talks about every citizen’s life in relation to injustices, tribalism and nepotism and corruption that happen to them with no say about it.
Sarah: From all the collaborations you have done, which one was the greatest export and why?
Meen: I. am one kind of artist who hardly depend on collaborations. I mainly focus on songs under my camp “Coozos Clan” because they have made me who I am today.
Sarah: If you can have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
Meen: The hard work I put in the industry. Artists come and go but Meen Meen still stands strong. Coozos Clan is not just a one off group that sings and disappear, we make sure we sing songs that are impactful to the society in order to be remembered.
Sarah: As a legendary artist who started from grass to grace and won multiple awards, what’s your take on the current music industry in South Sudan?
Meen: The current industry is based on lies and pushed by assumptions. When there are many promoters, artists, radio presenters who judge it by what they see. According to me, every person is entitled to their say thou not knowing that it might either lead to progress or destruction of the fraternity.
Sarah: Rumor has it that you at some point picked interest in the artists’ union presidency. What happened?
Meen: Well to clear the air, I haven’t ever picked interest in that position. I am comfortable as an artist.
Sarah: How many artists are in the Clan base and what’s the fate of these artists?
Meen: Clan base is a camp with many artists. The industry is suffering and struggling. Even when I mention them, they have not done greater stuff that have been recognized. We want them to go beyond.
Sarah: Tell us about your latest release “Disco Fata” that’s going viral on social media.
Meen: It is a party song that people who love dancing too and Djs also make sure it never misses their juke box.
Sarah: As a legend in the game, what do you think is lacking and needs to be implemented for the industry to move forward?
Meen: There are a lot of things that needs to be put in place one being professionalism. The media stakeholders do not give attention to local artists. We lack support in the game. There is a way support uplifts and encourages one to work even harder for greater height.
Sarah: As a member of the Ana Taban initiative, how have you guys brought youths together?
Meen: We are currently have a youth movement that has diverse members across the country. As youths we believe in a South Sudan that makes us believe in our diversity and this becomes our strength. Ana Taban has taught youths to come together and work under one umbrella.
Sarah: There are many artists who look up to you, what are your 3 guiding principles in life?
Meen: I am a very honest and hardworking person, I am self-reliant and determined, lastly but not least I believe in myself. Selflove comes first.
Sarah: What is it that people do not know about you?
Meen: I don’t smoke and drink, I am so friendly and like hooking up with people, I don’t feel sweet with people, I am a very busy man who wakes up early to make ends meet, lastly but not least, I am a proud family man too.
Sarah: You have been on a musical tour in the east African countries, any projects cooking?
Meen: I have a couple of them, one being the latest release “Disco Fata”. I have also been working on an album for the last one year.
Sarah: What’s the fate of the young generation pursuing music?
Meen: Unless they have respect to the artists they got in the game. Music is like football, if you are doing great today, do not take advantage of other people. Let hits not confuse them in growing nuts on the heads. Hard work always pays.