Exchange Student uses school resources to make music

Brenda Echeverria, Arts & Rec Editor

Zambian foreign exchange student, Martin Musunka didn’t expect to keep creating music after arriving in Whitewater. After all, he arrived about two weeks before Fall semester 2016 and didn’t know anyone.

A year later Musunka, who also goes by his artist name Mellow, has

a great network of friends and has seen his first musical success. In early 2017 he released his single “No Love” along with a music video that has now been featured on TV channel TRACE Africa.

“I never really thought of taking music seriously when I got here. I knew it was something I wanted to make serious, but me not being from Wisconsin, I knew zero people,” said Musunka “It was a kind of situation where I was like ‘how am I going to do this’ ” .

Musunka is a sophomore majoring in supply chain management but hopes to one day make music his main focus because it is his passion.

In Zambia, Musunka fell in love with lyrical rappers such as Tupac and Biggie. He started by learning their songs in 2nd or 3rd grade, and eventually worked to writing his first rap in the 6th grade. It was a rap that would later help him win his school’s talent show that year.  

“I was all the way in Zambia being influenced by huge artists [in the U.S.]” said Musunka “and that just kind of shows the reach music has and the power music has to influence a kid like me all the way in Africa.”

Musunka said his music is influenced by lyrical rappers of the past but is also influenced by the current wave of rap. He said he would describe his music as the perfect balance between old school and new school.

He realizes that it’s all about balance and staying current. Musunka talked about current rap and how people aren’t looking for lyrical rappers anymore, so he acknowledged the fact that he needs to compromise.

“It’s a business. If I see everyone using touch screens I’m not about to release a flip phone” said Musunka.

He creates his music with the help of his producer and friend back in Zambia, John Zyambo who also goes by Jhan. Zyambo will send over the base music and then Musunka will put his vocals over it by using the recording studio in the library.

For his “No Love” single Musunka actually sought out a professional videographer based in Milwaukee to shoot the video.

He released the video while he was back in Zambia for the summer, and it helped him meet a few big names in the Zambian music industry.

Musunka thinks that is how his music video got to be featured on the TV Channel TRACE Africa, which promotes itself as “the #1 music channel dedicated to African music.” The channel is available across 18 countries across Africa.

“I just woke up to the news,” Musunka said “and it was definitely a milestone because especially in the music industry it’s hard to see your work pay off.”

Musunka is currently working on a 10 to 12 track project he hopes to release before the end of January. Seeing his music video featured on TRACE Africa has only made him more driven to pursue music.

“I’m kicking down doors if they are not open for me” said Musunka.