It’s earned in excess of 80 million views on TikTok alone and an extra 7 million viewa on YouTube and generated mash-ups and remixes, yet the man behind viral Malawian music Linny Hoo has no clue about how social media functions. He doesn’t even have a cell phone
At 92, vocalist Giddes Chalamanda was, up to this point, willfully ignorant that he had turned into a social media celebrity, although now has an inkling of his online fame.
“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” he told AFP. “But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention.”
Chalamanda, who’s been performing for over 70 years, first recorded the music Linny, a ode to one of his girls, in 2000. Then in 2020, gospel artist Patience Namadingo approached him to record a reggae remix titled Linny Hoo.
The highly contrasting video shows a grinning, hole toothed Chalamanda sticking with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, while a gathering of neighbors look on.
The video before long turned into a social media sensation on YouTube and afterward arrived on TikTok where it turned into extremely popular with tiktokers making their own remixes as a feature of a #LinnyHooChallenge.
Sung in Chewa, quite possibly of Malawi’s most generally speaking language, Linny Hoo’s verses are a remix of the first tune’s verses, where Chalamanda sings about a “wise girl” named Linny, and then progresses to him and Namadingo playfully touching on everything from Chalamanda’s old hits as well as Namadingo’s marriage, and immigrating to America.
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“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.
Chalamanda said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays, but hopes to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.
“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”