Dressed in a long sleeved light blue shirt, dark blue trouser and black shoes, he is readying for the day’s job. Next to him lays a water pump machine, just the tool he needs to accomplish what he does best – washing cars.
This might come as a surprise to some, but the person in description is music producer Lamar Niekamp.
At the age of 33, once a famous record producer under his Fishcrab record, Lamar seems to have now shifted gear and opted for a life out of the spotlight.
His music exploits in yesteryears saw him work with some of the most famous artistes in the Bongo Flava industry. He is responsible for big hits such as Moyo wangu by Diamond Platnumz, Mambo Bado by Chege, Asha by TID, Unapenda nini by Jaffarai and Chupa Nyingine by Mchizi Mox.
Lamar made a transition from making music to venturing into other businesses to generate more income. Apart from the car wash and service bay he aptly named Fishcrab Auto care, he also sells food at a small restaurant.
The young entrepreneur wasn’t contented with all that, he further delved into cleaning houses and offices. For this, he receives orders from clients who need cleaning service for their house and office space. All these business ventures which he started in 2017 are housed under one roof located in Kinondoni in Dar es Salaam.
Speaking to The Beat at his office, Lamar says he never stopped making music and that his studio is still up and running. In fact, he says he has employed two other people to work as music producers at the studio as he focuses his efforts on other ventures.
“In the music industry, it is very rare to be on top of the game for more than ten years – be it as a musician or producer. This is not only in Tanzania, it is a global conundrum. Seeing as that’s the case, I decided to venture into other businesses as a way of making more money aside from music,” says Lamar.
His decision to try out other areas of trade left majority of people with a lot of questions. He was a celebrated producer, known for his craftsmanship in the studio. Many wondered why he chose to abandon music and get into businesses such as washing cars and selling food.
“Some people even said that I started these other businesses as a cover-up for my failure as a music producer. But that’s not the case,” he assures.
Instead, Lamar focused on building his new business where he has until now employed 12 people.
He says, the idea of his businesses came about after research and observation, where he noticed that food and means of transportation are part and parcel of the everyday life in Tanzania. So he saw this as an opportunity where he could grow day by day if only he manages to offer unique services.
“My business is expanding, this fills me with joy. The gradual success is a result of committed efforts and hardwork. I’m able to supervise my employees to ensure that we deliver quality services in order to keep up with the good flow of new customers. As a result, I’m always at the office to ensure maximum monitoring,” says Lamar.
In his fairly new ventures he has encountered a number of challenges. Among them, he says, is lack of commitment from some of his workers. “Some of my employees report to work late, while others require strict monitoring and to be pushed to do what they are contractually required to do on a daily basis. This is partly why I spend most of my time at the workstation,” he says.
When asked if he knows the health drawbacks of working for a prolonged period of time without having a break, he responds; “I know it is unhealthy, but I need to make sure everything falls in its right place in the first three years of my business before I decide to go on leave. May be this year I might get a three-day’s break.”
Lamar’s musical journey started in 2004 at the School of Audio Engineering in Netherlands.
While there he saved money from food allowance being given by the school, which was 50 Euros per month, for one year.
With the support he received from his uncle who financed the purchase of studio equipment, Lamar was able to open up a studio upon his return to Tanzania.
Commenting on the current music industry, the record producer/businessman, says there are many challenges facing the industry that it is hard for one to stay at the top for long.
He attributes the rise of the digital age to be a contributory factor in some of these challenges witnessed today.
“Availability of social media and social networks kills the music business. Everyone can now record a song devoid of any quality and upload it for people to consume. This kills the creativity that was once a pivotal part of the industry,” he explains.
“Back in the days it took a lot of effort for one to get in the studio and record. This brought mutual much energy from both producers and artistes.
At the moment the current state in the industry is killing the business, save for a few record labels that are trying to maintain quality and creativity,” he adds.
Through his fame, it wasn’t hard for Lamar to get support for his new business. This is partly the reason for its success.
Through his catering business he supplies food to different places pursuant to the demands of the customers. And with cleaning houses, he has special machines that help get the job done.
Lamar, who is a father of one, hasn’t altogether abandoned music. However, he personally gets in the studio by appointment.
His day starts at 5am with morning prayers. He then goes straight to Kariakoo market where he buys daily needs for his food business.
After that he heads to Kinondoni where he starts providing services to customers until 9 to 10pm.
Even as some people ridicule his endeavours, Lamar calls upon people in the music business to invest in other areas and not just depend on income from music.