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Why Diamond continues to break records in music

Friday December 04 2020
Diamond pic
By Mpoki Thomson

Tanzanian music heartthrob Naseeb Abdul - whose stage name is ‘Diamond Platnumz’ - has yet again etched his name into the continental music record book. The Bongo Flava star earlier this week broke the Africa YouTube record set by Nigerian music heavyweight Davido. Diamond - in spectacular fashion and a breeze of sheer bravado - saw his ‘Waah’ music video featuring Congolese music maestro Koffi Olomide garner one million views just eight hours after it was released on the digital platform YouTube. This was unprecedented and it thwarted a record held by Davido when his ‘Fem’ music video saw one million views on YouTube within nine hours of its debut.

With this feat, the illustrious career of the Tanzanian star continues to manifest itself in ways not thought possible before. His latest achievement comes on the heels of yet another bragging right bestowed unto him by the same platform (YouTube) earlier this year when he was recognized as the first sub-Saharan Africa artiste to record one billion YouTube views.

On his way to one billion views, Diamond dwarfed big names in continental music including Davido himself, Wizkid, the self-titled African Giant Burna Boy, Sauti Sol, and a score of other A-list musicians from Africa.

His YouTube account, which so far has more than 4.4 million subscribers is the most followed account by an African artiste, with the closest being Davido’s which has accumulated a little over two million subscribers.

Whereas the music industry took a beating upon the onset of Covid-19 in late 2019, rendering 2020 a dark year for most artistes, Diamond has defied the odds and thrived where others have failed. In terms of global recognition for artistic work in Africa’s growing music industry in 2020, no other artiste has fared better than Diamond Platnumz.

Grammy.com, on October 6, 2020, caught up with Diamond Platnumz via Google Meet to hear some of the stories behind his collaborations with various Grammy winners and nominees. The recording artiste, entrepreneur and media mogul also discussed Tanzania’s musical landscape, success, expanding his empire, performing at this year’s virtual Essence Music Festival and what Grammy winners he wants to collaborate with.

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This rare opportunity bestowed upon an African artiste by the global music compendium is a reflection of the height that Diamond has managed to reach in his musical journey.

It was only 10 years ago when Diamond first burst onto the music scene with his first LP ‘Kamwambie’. The 31-year old megastar heavily inspired by Usher, Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo, had big dreams not only as a solo artiste but as an emblem of East African music.

To achieve that, he had to start small, but he quickly realized that even though ki-Swahili was heavily influential in Tanzania owing to the successes recorded by his predecessors Dully Sykes, TID, Q-Chief, Lady Jaydee, and Juma Nature, in order to cross borders he needed something extra – something that would create a global appeal.

For that, Diamond started incorporating the English language into most of his songs. He started off with the regional hit song ‘Number One’, which caught the attention of West Africa’s Davido and the two did a collabo ‘Number One remix’ that went on to become a continental smash hit. It was upward from then on for Diamond. Since then he has released big hits such as Nana, Jeje, Inama, Baba Lao, Hallelujah, The One, among an endless list of great bangers. Doing collaborations with other international artistes was also part of Diamond’s plan to take Bongo Flava to the world. As he was once quoted saying “I am a kid from Tandale with a dream to become an international artiste.” And what other better way of becoming an international artiste than to brush shoulders with the top cream of the global music scene.

Diamond has collaborated with artistes from the US such as Omarion (‘African Beauty’), Rick Ross (‘Waka’), Ne-Yo (‘Marry You’) and most recently, Alicia Keys (‘Wasted Energy’). All these songs have gone on to become major successes and put Diamond on a pedestal shared by very few of his peers.

But, Diamond’s milestones on the music front have not solely been a result of music alone. He is a well-known entrepreneur who’s established a record label Wasafi Classic Baby (WCB) boasting of big names such as RayVanny, Lava Lava, Mbosso, Queen Darleen and Zuchu, he has also built a media empire Wasafi Media and broke more ground as the first African musician to own a radio station, Wasafi FM; a television station, Wasafi TV; and a production company, Zoom Extra.

With all these investments to date, his businesses altogether have provided employment to more than 100 people. And that’s not the end, Diamond has investments in real estate, fragrances and even a tech company and he is said to soon unveil his own tower called ‘Wasafi Tower’.

Diamond extended his music portfolio when he decided to start his own Wasafi Festival, which covers more than ten regions in the county annually and features local and international artistes (Wizkid, Innos B, Tiwa Savage). Now that Diamond Platnumz’s profile is continuing to rise outside of East Africa, he now wants to break into American popular music, an industry where he is recognized, but lags behind artistes from West Africa in terms of opportunities and accolades. As his music takes different twists and turns, one thing remains for certain; Diamond is an artiste who always pushes the canvas - and never shies away from breaking new barriers.