Naseeb Abdul Juma aka Diamond Platnumz was in the country for his album launch. While the TZ star was tight lipped on his past relationship with ex Zari Hassan, he shared thoughts on the direction of his music with Cynthia Mukanzi
‘A boy from Tandale’ is now a big man in the music industry; why did you choose to name this album A Boy From Tandale?
Tandale is my home; and the album is talking about me or rather the real life of an African kid. I have come such a long way and Tandale can bear witness to how I’ve been blessed by God from having almost nothing, to the person I am today. I have experienced tremendous growth.
You said this album is a canvas painted with themes synonymous to your life experiences. How so?
When it comes to the real life of someone who has faced so much struggles in life, as I have, there is so much to talk about. The album explores themes that range from love, personal growth, heartbreaks, not necessarily romantic ones and pushing my goals.
So we should expect to get emotional the moment we lay hands on and play your album?
Yeah. In it’s approximately one and half years of making, I’ve tried to tune the 20 songs in the album in a soft loving way. Some of the tracks may come across as romantic, but generally, I’m bearing my soul in the music to make it easy to reach out and be of meaning to people.
We must say it was quite a surprise to hear that you were launching your album here instead of Tanzania.
You know, one thing that I keep emphasising on is that I’m an African artiste. Coming from Tanzania doesn’t mean my music should exclusively be a first reach to my Bongo folks.
I’m an African musician and appreciate the fact that I have the capacity to lyrically connect with my fans across the continent and the world. A Boy From Tandale brought me here to celebrate with my Kenyan fans who have been supporting my music for so long.
That your music has crossed borders is no secret. Even renowned American musician, Omarion, talked about bumping into your music online for the first time and feeling your vibe to the point of wanting to jam with you. Did you ever think you’d be great friends as you are now?
I honestly never saw this coming. Omarion got into the music scene in his early teenage years, I believe he said at 14, and so I used to see him on TV and listen to his music. But right now, we are amazing friends who linked up over music and are now working on some projects together. I would have never predicted this.
And it’s not just Omarion you’ve worked with internationally; you’ve collaborated with the likes of Ne-Yo and Rick Ross. If you were to hang your boots right now, not that you plan to, don’t you think you’d have so much to be proud of?
It is by God’s grace, the fruition of my hard work and the support I have that has elevated me to a point where I’ve had the chance to network with some of the world’s finest. I don’t take it for granted. Working with such big names has been a fantastic learning curve that will go down in my history.
It’s easy for people who are familiar with your music to assume the new album is a resemblance of your past hits. When you look at your previous albums versus the current one, how unique is the latter?
It is different. This is something that I can truly call an album since the previous ones were not as cultured. The experience I have right now is exponential and can’t be matched to my releases back in the day.
I’m talking about how I created it, its execution, how I’m launching it and even the distribution method. It is now not about Platnumz churning out another album but taking East African Music to the world; something I always want to do.
You said you are launching your album here because you are a Pan-African musician without borders. However, we know that your presence here is also in relation to your ties with Safaricom and their recently-launched music distribution platform, Songa App. Were it not for this partnership, would you be hyping it here?
That’s a tricky question because the music journey is unpredictable. But you know even before getting sponsors, you need to have a plan. So, if I want to launch my music here, we have to make sure we get all the sponsors.
It’s also not just about all the sponsors who can come on board, but finding those who are on the same level with your brand; they should see your vision and know that it is not about the money, but how you relate to the product. That is why we have Safaricom and Songa App.
Am I right to say you can’t ascertain whether or not you would be sitting here today if wasn’t for the partnership?
It’s hard to give a definite answer, but I will say that it is likely that I would have been here at some point because of the album when I look at the plans we had.
And what I was saying earlier about Safaricom is that it is the main sponsor of my album launch because the team understands the dynamics of the game. That’s evident in their rolling out of the Songa digital platform that benefits musicians across the industry
You’re a father with three children who are in distinct locations with their mothers; do you find it hard to plan for visits?
As a parent, I do not look at it as something that is hard or draining. I would do anything for my children and spending time with them is a joy. It doesn’t matter where they are; I will always have time for them, and I will go to them or facilitate their safe travel.
Has fatherhood changed Diamond Platnumz, the musician?
It hasn’t changed me. I wanted to have children while I’m still young and energetic. I play my role as a parent and separate it from my music. I’ve set my priorities straight, which are my children and it has been amazing. I think I can handle it and I’m trying my best to make sure that nothing overshadows them.
Some years back, you vowed to never get signed to any label and today you’re teaming up with Universal Music Group. Do you still hold that thought?
I still do. I never wanted to work under a label and I’ve remained unsigned to date. I’m currently partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG) on some projects. Wasafi Classics Baby (WCB) and Universal Music Group is a collaboration with a similar vision. UMG is focused and understand my work, something which is important to my music distribution.
There comes a time when some musicians bow out of the music for various reasons. If you eased out from active music later on in the future, do you think you have plans that could successfully sustain you?
I believe so. To ensure that, I’m creating a legacy and investing in long-term projects that will be of benefit to us. For instance, my label, Wasafi Classics Baby is an investment that is now in Kenya to provide a stage for those who need it. I also launched my TV and radio channels in Tanzania last month. They should be on air on March 25. These are just some of the ways I’m laying a stronger foundation for more growth.