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Viral TikTok Turns Zambian Musician Global

Zambian musician Killa making music from his home studio, June 29, 2022
Zambian musician Killa making music from his home studio, June 29, 2022

Zambian musician Mark Lukwesa, popularly known by his rap name Killa recently became a global sensation following a TikTok collaboration with North American content creator and musician Conor Price, that generated over 21 million views on TikTok and a song that climbed the U.S. Apple Music Charts.

VOA’s Mike Hove spoke to Killa about his collaboration with Conor Price and how this has impacted his career.

Zambian Musician Speaks on Viral TikTok
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The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: What was your reaction when Conor Price reached out to you for a collaboration?

Kila: I’ll tell you that it feels different - and good - whenever a verified artist or content creator reaches out to work.

VOA: How the collaboration come to fruition?

Kila: After reaching out, Conor sent me the song and he had already recorded his verse. I felt a lot of pressure because his verse was really good, but I had put that thought to the back of my mind and deliver.

VOA: Your TikTok with Conor Price has been viewed over 21 million times online and the collaborated song, "Violet" briefly climbed the U.S. Apple music charts and has gained over 500 thousand views on YouTube. Considering the success of this collaboration, would you say the internet has a role to play in promoting young African artists?

Kila: The internet plays a major role because it is extremely difficult to get airplay on radio and television when you are an upcoming artist. However, what I have noticed is a lot of artists on the continent got bigger because of their social media presence.

VOA: What are your plans to capitalize on this moment and place a spotlight on Zambian music?

Kila: I must be strategic about my collaborations because there are so many talented artists in Zambia. The next step for me is to find a clever way to let it be known - but I feel like Zambia has the world’s attention right now.

VOA: The internet has created a global community, especially among the youth. As an artist, how do you maintain your identity to ensure that when you put your music out to the world, people know that this is a Zambian product?

Kila: It’s interesting you ask that because there is an ongoing debate right now over what is a “Zambian sound.” Personally, I maintain my uniqueness by infusing local languages into my music.