Two weeks ago, Jackson “Prezzo” Ngechu was the subject of online discussion, ridicule and mockery after he appeared on KTN’s Friday Briefing show. In the interview, many thought the rapper was inebriated, with fans on social media holding the opinion that he embarrassed himself and the host on national television.
In an edited two-and-a-half minute video clip of the interview, Prezzo came off as touchy-feely, overbearing, gave interviewer Betty Kyalo Okari a surprise hug, refused to read the news as is the custom for celebrities when they come to the show, and kept interrupting her.
But even as criticism continued to pour from Kenyans, castigating him for misbehaving on a live interview, the self-proclaimed “King of Bling”, the “truly unruly rapcellency” moved on from the saga, leaving tongues wagging on blogs and other social media platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp chat groups.
Breaking his silence on his “epic” interview, he tweeted: “I got y’all talking, didn’t I? I mean, who else could it be but me? I would love to apologise but what would I be apologising for? #Rapcellency”
These days, star scandals are basically a requirement for celebrities to match their more than average lifestyles. The level of fame that they are pushed to is not something that even someone like Prezzo can buy with his money. These controversies are what help them remain relevant because no musician or actor worth their salt would easily accept to be forgotten, or labelled a has-been.
The Naleta Action hit maker is one of the few Kenyan celebrities to actually give lifestyle and entertainment writers a run for their money with his antics over the years that are too real to be made up. Back when the music industry was still fledgling, he was the star who spiced things up by showing up at the Chaguo La Teeniez Awards in a helicopter as his mode of transport.
That was the talk of town for months. Years later, if a celebrity shows up at an event in a hired helicopter, it is still remembered that Prezzo did it first. His stint at Big Brother Africa: Stargame was memorable, where he ended up staying for 91 days and becoming a runner-up. He made headlines when his baby’s mother, Daisy Kiplagat, exposed him for not paying child support, when he dated Sheila Mwanyigha, when he was conspicuously absent at Fidel Odinga’s burial, for fights at night clubs involving guns, and many other incidents.
While some still maintain that he humiliated himself and Betty, Prezzo remains unapologetic. He continues to add on to the showbiz factor that the entertainment industry is in desperate need of.
And keeping his long running beef with Jaguar, whom he intimated cannot read, he said: “Tell that clown I’ll go to rehab once he goes for English classes scholarship, Makini School”.
Even though Prezzo has not had a significant hit since ‘Naleta Action’, he is by all means an A-list Kenyan celebrity who has learnt to make news while not letting his sagas spiral out of control.
By every sense of the word, he fulfilled his purpose as an entertainer because, at the end of it all, parties including himself ended up trending on social media. Not to defend his actions, but it does seem like the station was also in it for the hits. They would easily have kicked him off the air, but they let him rumble on and, by morning, had released an edited version of all his antics… and they did trend! The video shared hundreds of times on social media. The YouTube video has more than 300,000 views.
Indeed, there are people who try to stir up the entertainment scene by creating controversies and drama. Every other day, there are wannabe socialites who post nude photos online in attempts to get ahead, which unfortunately have become click baits or are just ignored.
Actor and musician Nick Mutuma says regardless of how the interview portrayed Prezzo, he is still a super star who commands attention. “I grew up looking up to him. I idolised him when I was younger because he was a star and is still a star. At first, when I watched the interview, I was a bit disturbed. But then, after thinking about it, I thought he must have been preparing us for something big,” he says.
Mutuma continues; “People should not dismiss him yet, I think he has something up his sleeve. He is a breath of fresh air in an industry where everyone is still playing it safe.”
Back when the industry was still green, some of the very few people who made showbiz news included Nonini, who at the time shocked people with songs like; ‘We Kamu’, ‘Manzi wa Nairobi’ and ‘Mtoto Mzuri’. Circute and Joel left their song ‘Manyake’ to interpretation for the youth. But still, the majority of entertainers continue to make news on the topic of their music, not going out of their way like their counterpart Prezzo.
Few have survived scandals and made them work for them, instead of against them. Last year, DJ Crème had one of the biggest sex scandals the Kenyan entertainment industry has seen to date. But instead of burying his career, it actually elevated it and somehow made him even more popular.
According to Sauti Sol’s Bien Aime Baraza, our music industry dulls in comparison to others in the region. His statement then could ring true if his and his fellow bandmates’ fashion sense is what baffles people on social media time and again.
“Prezzo is a superstar. He’s the father of showbiz. The rest of us are just musicians. I don’t defend his actions, but also let Prezzo be Prezzo,” he said.
Showbiz is certainly a fickle place. Having talent alone does not cut it any more. With good looks and a body to die for, entertainers can surely gain some mileage, but we are in the age of scandals where people have to constantly keep the audience interested in their lives no matter how vain. Because once people stop talking about you, that is the moment you slip into a deep hole called irrelevance.
There are many celebrities who go for months without setting off the rumour mills simply because their skill-set is enough to excellently sell them. But gossip and juicy trivia are the fuel for television personalities, musicians, actors and socialites with nonexistent careers who are celebrities because no one wants to be left behind. So, did Prezzo do the Kenyan showbiz a favour again with his antics?
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