Did Jay Z just pour out his heart!

FeaturedDid Jay Z just pour out his heart!

jay z 4-44My music listening is inspired by one simple thing: Greatness!

I don’t waste time on a bull’s faeces, I simply delete and move on, I simply don’t have to listen to ExQ (I’m supposed to link his name to his wikipedia but he doesn’t have one). I have come to understand how valuable the Megabytes in my phone or laptop are (until #datamustfall is in full effect) enough not to have them wasted on artists with a very low IQ in lyric building and telling a story. That said I still listen to Fally Ipupa, even though I have no idea of what he is singing about, his presentation instrumentally and visually appeals to me.

It’s Jay Z’s 13th album, who wouldn’t want to listen to it after like a four year sabbatical, hate him or love him, we can never run away from the fact that this is the same guy who has somehow shaped the look of Hip Hop as it is today. He has become a household name with more than music understanding but also business mind and a father to many artists to date.

As usual I go in with a strong expectation. I try not to listen to wannabe music critics and listen with a fresh ear. In the end we can only deduce real music without someone yelling ‘that is my song’ in the club. We can only call one a great artist buy the music and not the lifestyle he lives or the woman he married but by simply what he creates in the studio, enough to make sense and impart wisdom and happiness in the lives of many. Sean Carter seems to leave it all out on a record, especially with 4:44, after having faced media scrutiny over his love life. I guess we all needed his own version of the story, much reason as to why the album went platinum in a week.

Jay Z has faced many wars, its not easy to be declared ignoramus to common religion and still continue to live life the way we are given everyday. I might be a bad judge of character, but that’s a sin I am willing to die with coz it’s not for me to put anyone under any criteria.

I have struggled, daily to convince my colleagues that no matter how one seems to show it and portray it in his songs, we can only deduce if it comes from his mouth when he confesses and confessions are for God on the day of judgement. Let the man be and judge him because of what he does and sings about, it seems it is still the same old musician we have loved who continues to make great music for the masses. I am a fan of that.

I’ve stopped listening to beautiful girl songs, how many have been made? We cant only be dancing to songs that celebrate beauty of a woman or how rich you claim to be, this is simply just not good enough.

Imagine a newspaper that only writes about one thing only, with not even a change of angle! Thats how ExQ sounds right now, he simply has just lost any imagination in what to write about women now, he just keeps it very pathetic and you still have people listening and dancing to it.

I want to listen to a song that I can google to, if it’s worth googling and researching it’s adding value to my life.

Simply put I am not a hater, no hatred for someone’s else’s efforts. Same way we don’t support Zimbabwe Saints but Dynamos is the same way my ears close up when anything other than good comes on the radio. I did a show once on radio, the major reason why I never was revered among the many local musicians was the fact that I never tolerated lyrically poor musicians. I loathed making up ‘love this song’ in my shows and threw away anything other than beautiful. The majority of radio Dj’s in the country right now have no love for the music scene other than fill up their pockets with kick back money.  Producers and Presenters share the freebies while we die with frustrations at the end of a broadcast.

Before I even convince you that Jay Z’s album is a five star offering, listen to it here for yourself and share your comments at the bottom, regardless of what I say next.

I often struggle with content to listen to, as I said, I delete a lot. The reason why we all loved Bob Marley and Michael Jackson regardless of how they lived their lives was because their music said something to us that we could relate to at the time even up to now. Oliver Mtukudzi continues to be the pinnacle example of great musicianship in Zimbabwe because of one thing alone, content and yet its sad to have Rocki, Exq and Maskiri in a conversation with friends of musicians from your country.

One wonders why the country seems to have harvested mediocre lyricists when there were born from the likes of Bundu Boys, James Chimombe, Oliver and Chiwoniso Maraire. What happened to writing something that lasts the ages and nothing that lasts the night out and can only be remembered when you get high again.

I have mastered the art of deducing if your song will go anywhere other than your paid rotation on radio by the first minute it plays. If you don’t chose the first statement on your song with great care, be careful to lose me within that entrance. A lot of people will agree with me but then again, I don’t depend on them, music is supposed to be something other than a sum of instruments and a voice behind the mic.

It is much more than that and if you don’t understand what I am trying to say but can listen to Plaxedes Wenyika without picking up some off notes, then this article is not for you.

By the way I am here for Jay Z, forgive me, I get so carried away by the death of music in my country.

In a few words, Jay Z’s album 4:44 exudes maturity and wit no other rapper in the genre has managed to portray. He brings the simple Rhythm and Poetry that Common, Nas, Biggie and Tupac always put in every single they made. You are bound to pick more than one points of discussion in his album than you are in any of my fore-mentioned mediocrity.

Though till now I don’t know what 4:44 means, we will keep gathering all speculations and come up with a concrete meaning when we get a chance to speak with HOV in person. In the mean time enjoy.

To find out what Jay Z is singing about in every song on this album, check out this website.

A praise singer is not the praised!

It seems we have since forgotten how it all works. A praise singer,extols the virtues of his leader or chosen one and/for a common cause and barely gets the praise himself.  Sadly thats the way it goes and it ends there.

I should go on and give a disclaimer beforehand: 

In this piece, I will not pretend to know how politics in Zimbabwe works, I will instead leave that to the political commentators and concetrate on the simple understandings of a praise singer, to whom this article is cultivated from and what I believe the so called ‘committee’ that sits to decide whether actions of the liberation struggle results in a well paved grave of mable or not.

The past week the country could not believe when the biggest pro-liberation struggle lead singer and veteran died and was declared not a National War Hero despite having had sang his heart out for the majority of all leaders present and gone. It could have been an outright highest hero status if the majority of the country were in the selection committee.

I was quickly taken aback, when one such gallant son and crooner, Simon Chimbetu, was also snubbed of such a prestigious status and laid to rest in a grass infested cemetry of the Chinhoyi Heroes Acre.  

Quickly it made me realise that the two, who worked tirelessly to remind the entire nation in tunes and powerfu lyrics that still remain imprinted in our minds to date, were merely viewed as praise singers. Working tirelessly to propagate an understanding through song and dance whilst they themselves falling out of favour from the very same system they helped build.

Objectively, it could be argued that the two crooners did not put themselves in the line of fire enough to be bestowed the highest hero status in the land but instead chose to entertain mostly. They helped pen a number of songs that attacked the colonialists and instilled brevity amongst others whilst they were far from the heat of the battle and the occassional need to show acts pf heroism, a position lowly ranked within the army.

 Could it be that Cde Chinx was a guerilla soldier and a popular singer that makes many believe he deserved to buried at the national shrine? They could have been many that could have sang the same songs as he did but were not as prominent, do they too deserve the highest hero status of the land. 

In what way was he instrumental in the direct change of the political environement in the then colonial era? Did his music directly affect a change in the way the British handled affairs in the country? Was he a fighter first then singer or vice-versa? These are the answers that needed to be answered to reach a certain conclusion.

I am not against the man, neither am I pro-‘the present government’ but I want to look at the spade before me and be able to call it what it is. Equating the fallen hero and the many other pivotal members of the country who went beyond their limits to deliver the promise of freedom and life as what we have it now can be debatable from what angle you look at it but it doesnt have to be hard to call one a National hero.

Though it looked promised unto him, as he was much loved by the nation, it should remind us how undesirable his position should be to anyone hoping to have a thriving political career. It seems the major contributors of the liberation struggle where the masterinds of the next attack and seizures and not the musician that calmed the hearts of the weary and frightened after a long day’s battle.

His dance and voice that shattered all fear and encouraged the many to enlist is now simply forgotten when the deed has been done and the houses of the masters invaded.

He did not receieve the recognition that many would have gladly given him but he will forever be remembered as a pivotal role in convincing and reviving the weary hearts and minds against the struggle against colonialism. 

His music shall live on in 

Harmony Singers host Gonzaga Chamber Singers (USA)

Harmony Singers host Gonzaga Chamber Singers (USA)

Its not everyday when the earthy and heavy african vocals meet with the well formed premier sounds of a chamber choir from the United States of America to produce a show, such as never been seen before in the country. If you are a music lover, the Unclouded: Music for hope Zim/USA is moving evidence of an existence of great  choral movement within the country that deserves due recognition and must have every Zimbabwean proud and excited. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you.

Zimbabweans are extremely lucky and they just haven’t realised it yet. On Friday the 3oth of May, this Chitungwiza based choir, straight from the dusty streets will collaborate in a show with the Gonzaga Chamber Singers in a music show that will not only be a chance to bring together two unique group of voices but celebrate a choral music movement in the country that has far too long been suppressed and played second fiddle to many other music forms that have been given precedence.

I am blessed to have witnessed, in my lifetime, a choir that has achieved as much as the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers and yet is still just an ordinary choral group with very little musical status such as that which is given any other artist like Oliver Mtukudzi. If anyone deserved such high recognition, this would have been my number 1 choice of choir.

Friday the 30th of May will once again mark a great day in the choirs history as they sing alongside this premier ‘choral ensemble consisting of 26-28 voices drawn from the Gonzaga University Choir whose choral literature focuses on chamber works that are unaccompanied or with chamber accompaniment. Some of their major performances include concerts and national and international tours such as spring 2010 where the Chamber Singers performed in Shanghai and Beijing on its China tour.’ (GU website)

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The Gonzaga University Concert Choir. Members of the Chamber Chorus are traditionally drawn from the Concert Choir. GU photo by Edward Bell

Their African tour has seen them travel to Zambia and the finale tone marked for Zimbabwe with CHS at the National Art Gallery for what should be a great unmissable show. During their tour of these two neighbouring countries, Gonzaga has participated in musical exchanges and performances with high school and university choirs, sang at Masses and other public venues. Timothy Westerhaus (director and voice coach) developed the choir’s first intercultural exchange and engagement tour in 2015 in Bogotá and Cali, Colombia, one of the first U.S. collegiate choir tours in the region.’ (According to Gonzaga website).

CHS is a choir that has not only stood the test of time since its creation in 1993 by the late, award winning Israel Dzangare but has produced three albums, collaborated with various artists within the country and has achieved repetitive success within regional competitions traditionally held in South Africa and hosted by Old Mutual. In 2016, for the first time ever, they were solely responsible for bringing the Limpopo version of the competitions to Harare which is a result of hard work and growth from within the choir resulting in the formation of other choral groups.

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Chitungwiza Harmony in concert. Pic (CHS Facebook page)

Here is a snippet of the rehearsal just to wet your appetite and if this doesn’t move to be at the National Art Gallery in Harare at 6pm, then no other music will.

Where is Tocky and his Vibes?

Where is Tocky and his Vibes?

The last time I saw a Tocky Vibes show I almost vomited. I can still taste the bitter after taste. A mashed attempt of a performance that I regretted paying for and with all the push around his artistry, I was left to wonder if he was indeed the ‘king’ he crowned himself to be or just the hit and run, half baked mediocre artist everyone fears falling in love with and inevitably loath.

Even his Facebook post dated 24 May says it all, “… get ready for new projects”, a statement that can easily be an attempt to wet an appetite of the many sympathisers who might just have lost interest.

His last album in 2016, Tirabhuru, poorly received compared to his first offerings should be an eye opener. No one paid attention to it as if it never exists. Zimbabwe’s diverse audience has no loyalty to a brand or artist and two years is a huge amount of time to leave them waiting. With the music scene awash with new players penetrating into the hearts of many music lovers hoping to keep them hooked, it is really a battle for top honours and a race to the crown. At the moment, Tocky is nowhere near contention,

Vibes could have easily remained afloat with his soulful and loveable ballads that favoured no gender or age. He had grown folk falling for his artistry while the youths saw him as a somewhat musical messiah. Many of his peers, who through the ills begotten by the country, needing no politician or international aid but words of encouragement from one fellow ghetto boy to the other have sought refuge in his lyrics. It is an all too familiar rags to riches story from the boy who was born in a ghetto called Rugare, a stone throw away from Kambuzuma where Winky D was born, defying the odds and singing his way into the hearts of many. But, could he slipping and giving way to many others?

It seems, judging by the works produced by his main rival, Winky D, that he has all but lost the battle.

At 24, surely he has a bright future ahead of him but runs the risk of dwindling into obscurity and needing a search party to rescue. One can only wait for so long without a production and I simply cannot stand his experimentation of sound even with afro jazz and other genres.

The show I mentioned in the beginning of this piece saw him receive a beer can or two in his face after he attempted to dazzle and croon his way out of a much hyped new year’s gig with some mbira, drum and almost trance like performance whilst seated on a huge chair with no socks on! He soon realised the paying mob hath fury.

A part of me wants to give him time, he could soon be back on our playlists again, with a dash of self-revelation. True musicians are not hurried into producing a track, infact the greatest music has been made by investing enough time on it. However, may artists have sunk deeper into oblivion by try to surpass their previous works and losing a footing in the race. He simply has to work on avoiding the latter.

There is a somewhat mediocre bone lodged in his musical anatomy. He has the ability to create great work such as similar to many great artists that have graced the country before him if he searches deep enough within himself. Some of his tracks have simply been too much a lean towards the feel and make of his hit song, Mhai.

I can simply deduce a great artist by the frequency to make hit songs (well thats how we all can) and for him to fall into this category, he has to go beyond just spending time in the studio and creating quality masterpieces. Today’s artists lack professional coaching, a musical ear during their creation processes and constructive critiques. Many have gone on to produce music under the influences of various other stuff including their eagerness to receive radio play and popularity, which is the deadliest form of motivation to any musician.

For long the country has been described as the reggae nation but I guess the many artists that have assumed this genre as a source of living and inspiration have failed to make a single trip to Jamaica as a source of inspiration or study, to get an understanding of where it all began. This I think is a must do in any true and genuine reggae artist.

The Zim-ragga music space is the largest in terms of revenue and following and as such many artists have emerged and are making a living out of it. Yearly, millions of dollars are spent on producing, marketing and performance of the genre, much loved by Zimbabweans all over the world. Their constant appetite for the music feeds these artists into creating more music and such is the circle of life.

Barely four years after his emergence, asking the question of whether he is still relevant might be a bit debatable but I am convinced he has pockets of musical genius in him that he needs dig deep to find within himself to once again come to charm the many of his lovers.

Time will tell.

 

Jah Prayzah swimming with the big fish

Jah Prayzah swimming with the big fish

Whatever Jah Prayzah lacks as an artist to appeal to me, he certainly makes up through effort and the willingness to never settle. He has got to be the hardest working artist in Zimbabwe right now and inevitably the man of the moment.

I certainly should not be the person showering praise to the singer as not so long ago on this very platform, I gasped at his winning of the MTV Award and was convinced it was a fluke. I could have easily went on with that angle and talk about this award winning moment as being the very same reason we have seen the guy travel all over the continent working with big artists like Mafikizolo, Davido and Diamond Platnumz and create hits that even he could never have imagined.

Within a short space of time, Jah Prayzah has managed to do what he loves best, that is create hits and be the tall, eye catching artist he has dreamt of being. When I met him within the hall of Bob Nyabinde’s workshop in Harare, the then tall scrawny looking mbira wielding artist shed off more passion than the need to make a quick buck as many of his counterparts in the country. Since then he has evolved into something like an icon and gracing big stages in the region and he can’t seem to stop.

This weekend, Jah Prayzah is the main feature amongst a cast that I adore and have revered throughout my years when he plays at the Bassline Africa Day Concert in Johannesburg amongst Thandiswa Mazwai (SA), Bombino (NE), Baloji (DRC), Ray Phiri (SA), Vusi Mahlasela (SA), Jobo About (Ghana), Petite Noir (Belgium/SA) and Jobie Clarke (SA) with more acts being confirmed regularly.

Rubbing shoulders with greats such as Ray Phiri, Vusi Mahlasela and Thandiswa Mazwai is not only a great feat but should be worrisome to any artist. The large crowd that listen to them are also listening to you and you have to impress if not steal the show to just about make good headline for yourself. That said, I think its a challenge he can tackle, however I am not sure if the whole ‘masoja’ outfit thing can be brought on stage and wow the crowd. we just have to wait and see.

Read more about the show here : http://www.kayafm.co.za/bassline-africa-day-concert-2017/#1492602954598-b5e80c08-2ea7

Jah is also set to release a single with Davido soon which promises to work well in his favour and if his number one single with Mafikizolo on the African Charts is anything to judge him by, it might be a scorcher.

                            Foreign

                            Foreign

By Mudhanganyi

What un-qualifies me? What makes me a stranger?

What makes me the different strand, one queer block posing danger

My dialect, tone, ascent, color?

My birthplace, president or unasssuming demeanor

Why does it seem I alone has to face the culler?

I am known by my many things,

Never of the good ones

But mostly insults, and of them lashings.

My armpits smell

Simple etiquette, it seems, I don’t do to well.

Brothers we are, sisters we are

Inlaws we have become but still demarcated

Geographically and emotionally our hearts be the landmark

It’s a sad tale,

What a bloody, poor heartbreak.

Scapegoat, spoiler, wrecker, taker

Invader, looter, undesired heartbreaker

Asylum seeker, expatriate

Names I’m given when all I pray for is that we relate.

What happened to love

What happened to Ubuntu

If we can’t, forward we can never

But there’s a good ending, if willing, and it begins with you.