Moving to Chilu’s Beat
“My first memory of performing on stage is when I was about eight years old. My late mother, my brother Sitwala and sister Sepo had rehearsed a song that we sang for the congregation at the People’s Church in Ndola (Zambia). The performance went well, erm... I think. I can’t remember too well.”
Chilu’s passion for music followed him through High School where he was the star of the school choir. After showing off his talent in numerous musical works he was awarded the Chengelo Music Award in 1992 at the school’s prize giving ceremony.
Rap music became Chilu’s obsession in the mid-eighties and it lead to him belonging to a succession of rap groups beginning with The Fabulous Four in 1988, BoKab in 1991, Capellany in 1993 and the Man X Crew in 1994. Although his early musical compositions where highly influenced by US based Hip Hop artists, it wasn't until the early nineties that Chilu aligned his African identity with his music, adopting the name King Bongo in the process. Although Hip Hop performed in indigenous languages is now commonplace across Africa, Zambia’s first rap hit containing verses in local vernacular, was performed by Alan Mvula (formerly MC Suicide) and Chilu Lemba back in 1995. Chilu wrote the song two years earlier infusing Bemba and Nyanja into the lyrics. Radio Presenter Nkweto Tembwe was the 1st DeeJay to play the song on radio in early 1995.
In 2000, Chilu contributed the smash hit Shibuka to The Rhythm Nation Project released by the Mondo Music Corporation; and in 2006, launched his debut album Sound Legacy. It featured music written and performed by Chilu with appearances by Thiwe, Adam Lomas, rapper Jon Woo, Afrokun, Mainza and Joe Chibangu, amongst others. 2012 saw the release of his sophomore album Flowers, Needles & Drumbeats. The third single off this album, NJOTA featuring Zubz and TK, topped charts in Zambia – becoming a regular fixture on DJ playlists both on radio and at nightclubs. Other artists that featured on the project are Mapumba, Rebel I, 2nd SUN, Pompi, JK. Thiwe and Kofi Ofori-Boateng amongst others. Producers included Inyambo Imenda & The Studio Next Door, James Mulenga, Timothy Siame and TK Siyandi.