Jah Prayzah drops new album, Kutongwa Kwaro

Jah Prayzah drops new album, Kutongwa Kwaro

At a time when all things in Zimbabwe are blurred and politics in sharp focus, Jah Prayzah drops his new album Kutongwa Kwaro this evening amidst a goulash of expactations.

The album name, loosely translated means “Leadership” but in a somewhat discourteous manner to the character (himself or someone else) the regional star refers to in this latest offering.

Could this be his way of signalling the current chaos the country finds itself in, politically, as a cabinet re-shuffle has just ruffled feathers in this old cock that has led the country for the past 37 years?

Could Jah Prayzah, like his stage name, be prophetically singing of the times we find ourselves in, from Elohim with a message for us all to pay attention to our current leadership and demise while possibly learning of a way out through his message?

Could Zimbabwe’s 37-year nightmare – the sacked or lamented leadership, the disastrous political fighting and tortuous economy – finally be over and revealed in song and dance as his title assumes? Or could we be clinging onto nothing but clever wording and marketing by the rising regional musical star?

His album that has already broken self-set records by the artiste as the most marketed, comes at a time when every aspect of Zimbabwean life is in the pits and probably, just probably, could resuscitate a lethargic economy that is on the brink of self exploding.

It could be his greatest offering so far, if regional music is concerned, as he ventures to establish himself as an equal to one of the region’s biggest names in showbiz, Davido (Nigeria) who will perform alongside him at the Harare International Conference Centre later today.

my-lilly-jah

Davido, who has recently been questioned on the mysterious murders of his colleagues in which he has been called into questioning by police in Nigeria, will be relieved to avoid the negative publicity he faces in his country at the moment with the trip down to the once ‘bread basket of Africa’.

Jah Prayzah will also yen for some good publicity through the same show as his track “Mdhara Vachauya” in particular, has been “linked” and “likened” to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrival to the helm of the sinking Titanic (Zimbabwe) and restore all that has been lost but who has just lost his post as Minister of Justice through the recent re-shuffling in the hands of the nonagenarian leader.

The Uzumba-bred star will shoot to aim at a far larger market than locally as it seems he has tasted regional success with collaborations with Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania) and Mafikizolo (South Africa) which have been received fairly well but has been left vulnerable back at home with fans who feel JP has moved away from his original sound while the upcoming mimic, Andy Muridzo, has been left to capitalise and feel the void. 

jah prayzah 

His fans will have to accept the crooners change in tune to accomodate a much wider and more lucrative Africa, a conundrum he faces as he tries to satisfy both old and new fans alike.

His seven albums, though loosely characterised, are not an easy walk in the park especially with a Zimbabwean crowd that is not loyal in any way. If there is anything that Jah Prayzah has given the large followers he commands, is the guaranteed joy of music, a feat that was solely manned by Oliver Mtukudzi who at 65 years, never fails to deliver.

Jah-Prayzah and tuj

If we are to judge a book by its cover, Kutongwa Kwaro, might just be a best seller but then again, we must never. For artists have been known to find one spark within a list of dull moments, the proof is certainly in the pudding.

As the cash strapped Zimbabweans dig deep and hustle hard to attend the show, it is but a matter of time before we deduce which side of the fence we lie. Hopefully it will not suffer the same fate as the simultaneously coming Jacaranda mauve; sprawling from high above, but utterly worthless junk when it touches the ground.

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FeaturedComing full circle of Zolani Mahola.

Coming full circle of Zolani Mahola.

Many an artist today rarely come full circle. Along their artistic path, there are swayed and persuaded and at times thrown off balance. Being consumed by the limelight in such a way that throws off their initial love with the arts into a downward spiral. They simply forget the reason they became (popular) in the first place.

This ‘secondary’ package (the glitz and the glamour), consumes the head and has veered many off track. As art lovers we experience a loss and consequently the same in the artist’s coffers.

Only a few can be described as coming of age or mature in the music industry, mainly because of the failure to keep the fire that shot them to stardom in the first place, well lit. This constant search for relevance and to be appealing is an art very seldom known to many. A humbling experience it may be, it serves as a reminder of how the arts are constantly evolving and emerging and that the only way you can discover yourself again is to be at the place you started from, in that zone, in that moment.

We have today, many one hit wonders than we have had of fully established entertainers because of the etching of the circle itself, some quickly lose sight. The circle is not to be achieved. A fully fledged artist is not to be.

Zolani Mahola, shot to stardom with her alluring voice, one as such I had never heard before. She placed herself amongst a group of talented artists’ and compositions and backed it up with repeated musical offerings that till today earn a spot within the artistic landscape of the country. Her voice remains one that resembled a fullness every other singer longs for and her persona embodied a true version of ‘my’ African artist, versatile and beaming with prospect of international recognition, a wave she rod quite beautifully for years until she decided to come back to the place where she envisioned herself well before everything we know about her came to be.

In this dog-eat-dog industry, she has remained viable and musically sort after. Her name can easily be carved amongst the greats the country has produced but instead she has not let fame and fortune consume her head but instead use it as draft under her wings, to soar even higher.

One can almost be short of an answer as to what next for such a great career? As times change and the musical landscape transforms itself, remaining viable is a hard job, hence we have many an artist grabbing any ounce of limelight that is thrown to them.

A mother of two, a wife, singer and recently just starred in a theatrical at the Johannesburg Theatre, Calling me Home. It seems she has found her way back home to theatre, her first love with the arts before Freshlyground shot her to super stardom-ship. She envisioned herself being more into theatre but as fate would have it she had to set it aside and focus on becoming a lead singer and song writer.

 “I loved being in the theatre and it is a passion that I had to put aside for the growth of Freshlyground. When I left high school my ambition was to be a theatre-maker, an actress and potentially a director but I ran into singing somewhere along the way. I rode that wave and fifteen years later I came back to me with this production.”

She openly admits that she would love to do more theatre work, despite her first not receiving rave reviews as she would have hoped. Something she knows how to handle from the unforgiving world of music. 

Zolani theatre
Zolani in Coming Home

 Read more on “Coming Home” here

Mahola’s re-discovery is what I think every artist needs to achieve this full circle. While a part of me thinks she never left theatre but was playing varied acts with the same cast in different roles and plays in the music Freshlyground has been making for over fifteen years.

Her performances with the group have been big enough and demanding, unlike any other theatre act ever played on any stage

While Freshlyground is set to realise new material soon as they started recording in December of 2016 with Banana Republic being a single lifted from this upcoming album.

“We started recording fifteen songs in December of 2016 and we are taking our time with crafting those songs. We released Banana Republic on Freedom Day here in South Africa way before we meant to release any of the songs because of the relevance of the song to South Africa’s current socio-political climate..” She said.

The group is not new to protest songs, they realised “Chicken to change” in protest to Zimbabwe’s nonagenarian leader who has led the country for more than 36 years and is about to run for another term in 2018.

“It was a response to the seeming indifference of the ruling powers to the well-being of the South African population. It is a protest song for the modern times… we elected the ruling powers because we felt they would redress the failures of past governments but we have found that largely they want to line their own pockets and are spreading a culture of a profound disrespect for the rule of law. Apartheid so fundamentally undermined the dignity of most of the citizens of our country and much of the time it seems as though the government that we have elected similarly tramples on this fragile dignity. We felt we needed to make these feelings known and put on record: hence the release of the song Banana Republic.” Said Zolani.

Despite the group’s music being banned in Zimbabwe, Zolani does not see herself as an activist but rather a social commentator,

I would not define myself as an activist but I would say that an artist needs to reflect the society they live in.. As an artist I need to comment on the things I see in the world and present this commentary in the best way I know how … for me that is to sing and to act.”

While for many artists, having a husband, two kids and a career usually drags them down, it seems she has done the opposite and has even found the energy to shed a few kilos in the process. All of which has not been easy, she explains, but it has been important enough for her to note that she can achieve even more, if she sets her mind to it.

“…the main reason to shed all that weight was a need to make my physical image conform with the image I had in my head of who I was, of what I looked like when I thought of myself….I do very often times struggle against the idealised notions of beauty that we have bought into in modern society and I have since I was a very young girl. It’s sad… but true.”

Zolani Mahola certainly inspires her fellows, she has remained a true artist despite the burdens of being a woman artist, mother and wife and has added onto her repertoire, a theatrical appearance of equal relevance to her coming of age within the arts industry.

I have followed her music career since the beginning and I would love to own and listen to a solo album from the Waka Waka singer which I have no doubt would be nothing but styled in the manner she has helped shape the music within the group she finds herself in.

With Zolani
Me with Zolani in Harare, Zimbabwe (2005)

Her reuniting with her lost love (theatre) could just be the start of a whole new path for her that could easily lead to her going solo, not that her outfit is in anyway pulling her down, a thought she was reluctant to dwell into but could easily suggest, the thought had crossed her mind.

Listening to ‘Nomvula- After the rain‘ which she co-wrote will tell you a bit about her song writing prowess coupled with an alluring voice such as she packs will definitely make her stand out far more than any other solo artist.

I am almost tempted to explore this line of thought, as I imagine what the world would have been if Beyonce had not braved the cold and discomfort of being a lone crooner. How Michael Jackson would have never become the legend he was if he didn’t step out of the pack, maybe, just maybe, Zolani Mahola could be amongst this group of mega icons.

 

How a pair of panties can make or break an economy.

FeaturedHow a pair of panties can make or break an economy.

I have heard of great politicians who championed great deeds and climbed impossible peaks for the greater good of the people. I have read of stories of warriors and great fighters who defied all odds including death itself to make the world we live in a better place.

But just when I thought I had read and seen it all, a pair of panties potentially put a halt to an economy and its prospects just because they could not find Zodwa Wa Bantu‘s well sort after and un-interested fundament.

It should be a lesson to anyone indifferent, you never know where it takes you.

For the past weeks the Zimbabwean government and her people were torn between accepting Zodwa’s un-apologetic distaste for undies. It boiled down to whether she deserved performing at the just ended Harare International Carnival or not.

Somewhere out there lies a pair of knickers that potentially shaped the future of Zodwa Wa Bantu’s career. This very pair/s is the reason she decided to go without and eventually have her move around freely and to date, make her a valuable commodity racking huge endorsement deals while naked in her bum.

The story made so much headlines and hashtags that it eventually reached my mother and that ladies and gentlemen is when you can fail to answer a simple question, no matter how good you think you can manoeuvre your way out of any odd situation.

I will go on to do a first, ever since Zodwa’s “private affairs” were published and started an online riot that crucified a washed out actress who in her mind thought was doing it for the good of her nation.

I too, do not favour undergarments and their restrictive nature and prefer not to whenever I can. I often move around plainly and the world is so much a free place than when covered and can’t breath. We all could reach a un-explainable height of peace and happiness if we could embrace our free living spirits.

Let’s see if I too can bring down a national event by my confession. (chuckles)

While I failed to see the hoo-ha about her undergarment preferences, especially as the country is knee deep on bigger issues that need all the attention and resources we can get.

I certainly felt ashamed at the level of participation towards an entertainers choice of wardrobe which overtook a worthy cause to revamp and restore the country’s image of failing to respect personal choices and the to some extent the freedom of expression/arts.

And that individuals such as artists, actors and politicians that are supposed to cry for the bread and butter issues of the whole nation are busy hash tagging and starting movements against no-pantie wearing socialites and dancers.

To make matters worse in this horrid display of power and influence was the fact that the line up of artists on the event included members of dance groups whose regalia is almost non existent and whose dances are more close to strip dancing than anything else decent.

For days, the country stood still and waited for ZWB to showcase her signature moves and sexy bod. Hate or like the socialite, she has made a career out of what she believes in. Staying true to it and never quitting (yes I am a fan).

Until all the noise subsided we forgot about the bond notes, the bank queues and twenty dollar offerings. We forgot about everything else that we need sorted and stressed about a pair of panties that do not even exist( I’m guessing Zodwa doens’t even own a pair)

That ladies and gents is the power of Zodwa’s panties, if they exist, that can halt an economy and start an uproar.

 

 

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.

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)

gonzaga
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.

chs
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.

 

How did Jah Prayzer win this one?

How did Jah Prayzer win this one?

prayzer

The MAMA’s have come and gone, another year’s edition is past; the country will rest a while before the hullabaloo erupts once again next year. Congratulations are in order for all those who went up the stage to accept an award and these artists once again have proven that, as a continent, we are not far away from international appeal but in fact in a zone of our own and we need to move parallel to rather than chase after international acclaim. We have a vibe of our own and we need to nurture it to grow it to its highest level.

I can’t help but admire the passion that is going through African music and the amount of effort our artists are putting into arranging wonderful lyrics, choreography, video creations and rehearsals, it is admirable and much appreciated. Just the kind of stuff that cheers you up about our continent, our love for the party while we pretend to forget, just for a while, about the socio-economic problems that bedevil us.

Understandably, we all cannot be politicking, in a melting pot of corruption, wars, terrorists, hunger and poverty it is refreshing to forget how stupid a president we have or how the state has been captured by a group of individuals with so much money more than some smaller countries or how many girls have been returned by the Boko Haram in Nigeria so far and how we need all of them back.

So for one night we turn our eyes away and dance and celebrate African music, no matter how it may seem like Nigerians sing more and win the awards more. I used to think, South Africans sing better than any other nation in Africa but I guess the MAMA’s have shown us otherwise.

Awards in Africa are not as they are in Europe, artists here start a career with monetary returns in mind not a full trophy cabinet. It is a culture that was made popular with western music promoters venturing into the lucrative and virgin land of African music. And so we are getting the hang of it, we dress up and have our pictures taken one night and we hope our favourite artists win more awards than any other. It’s a moment a lot of musicians boast about, probably in their next song, but what does it really translate to? How are these awards generated and does an award indicate a bright future or a good past season in song?

“The nominations in the music categories are selected by the MAMA “academy”, a group of music industry opinion formers and tastemakers from across the African continent who create a shortlist based on the artists and musicians who have received airplay on the channel between (21 March 2015 and 23 August 2016).” According to the ticketprodome.co.za who hosted this year’s event.

“The winners in 15 MAMA categories are chosen by music fans and viewers voting online at www.mtvbase.com and affiliated Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.” The website says.

Understanding the way the awards works is really getting to grasp the mountain that these artists have to climb in order to actually win the award.

I wanted to imagine what it would take for an artist in Zimbabwe, up against 21 African artists could have possibly won the listeners choice award considering the land locked country only has 14 million people compared to Nigeria which has 12 times more at 173.6 million.

Just to refresh your mind, here is the population within the countries, Jah Prayzer was up against.

  • Adiouza (Senegal)                             14.3 mil
  • Bebe Cool (Uganda)                         37.5 mil
  • Burna Boy (Nigeria)                         173.6 mil
  • Kiss Daniel (Nigeria)
  • Den G (Liberia)                                4.2 mil
  • EL (Ghana)                                      25.9 mil
  • Jah Prayzah (Zimbabwe)                   14.15 mil
  • Jay Rox (Zambia)                             14.54 mil
  • Kansoul (Kenya)                               44.35 mil
  • Lij Michael (Ethiopia)                       94.1 mil
  • LXG (Sierra Leone)                          6 mil
  • Meddy (Rwanda)                              11.8 mil
  • Messias Marioca (Mozambique)                 25.8 mil
  • Prince Kaybee (South Africa)             52.9 mil
  • Reda Taliani (Algeria)                      39.2 mil
  • Saad Lamjarred (Morocco)                33 mil
  • Sabri Mosbah (Tunisia)                    10.8 mil
  • Sidiki Diabate (Mali)                        15.3 mil
  • Tamer Hosny (Egypt)                        82 mil
  • The Dogg (Namibia)                        2.3 mil
  • Yamoto Band (Tanzania)                49.2 mil

 

Now I am not really an awards person and neither am I a huge fan of the genre that Jah Prayzer sings in (whatever you decide to call I don’t really care) but I loved the fact that he won. What he lacks in being a complete musician, he makes up through his wardrobe, choreography and video productions. Hugely disappointed that he couldn’t make it to come and say a few words or two after his name was called but that’s understandable, we all have had stage fright before (I almost fainted half way during a song performance) but certainly not Jah who has graced many stages in his life, this is the kind of moment he needed to show all us haters, fans and sexual assault accusers that he is on top of his game.

Enough said, before we digress, I had to find out how he won the award!

Firstly, did the other countries vote or they didn’t like the nominations put before them for their own representatives? It is still baffling to note that amongst the nominations, Zimbabwe only has five countries with a lower population than theirs and 16 other have more. Consequently more viewers and voters I believe and this is, Ceteris paribus, a higher population delivers more votes and voters.This would be true if each country was voting for their own nominations, which I think is what happens in this case.

Secondly, if we are to look at the figures above, are we then to say, with the way Nigerians love their music and are almost recognisable because of their braggadocio, that there were not going to vote for their two nominations and concede defeat to a newcomer, an artist they don’t even have exposure to? Did they vote at all or their cast was lost somewhere between the casting and the counting, after all we are in Africa and rigging elections is what we know best.

To many reading this, you might be regarding this as using this platform to spread my hatred for Prayzer but NO! I am merely trying to understand what is the basis of getting a Listeners award and how he did it with very few followers and fans as compared to Burna Boy and Prince Kaybee, Was the cast set aside and awarded on the basis of adding variety to the winners rather than a true reflection their so called listener’s choice? I seem to be asking more questions than providing answers here but then this is my blog, I write what I feel.

prince-kaybee
Prince Kaybee
burna-boy
Burna Boy

Given that this was the first time such as award had been given out, I am tempted to assume the organisers wanted to simply put the category on the spotlight, encouraging more votes the next time the nominees are put forward and to have people asking the question, who is Jah Prayzer? Surely being nominated means he deserved to win but the question still remains, did he really have more listeners dancing to ‘mudhara vachauya’ than all those artists? Is the vote based on current trends within a particular country? If so he would have deserved the award because of late he has been upping his game and giving artists a run for their money. Or maybe (this is a good one) votes casts were judged against a country’s population and given a percentage and whichever artist had the higher percentage of listeners for him won the award? In this scenario, Jah could have only prevailed because he has a huge listenership against the population in Zimbabwe and could have outsmarted the other artists in this manner.

In the end, its just my mind running wild, there are many questions and many subjects of conversations pertaining to the MAMA’s this year but its all behind us now, we celebrate, object and in the end have to respect what has been done, viva African music

 

What are your thoughts on the awards, let me know…..

Read more on the awards and who has won it before on the following links:

2015: http://www.okayafrica.com/news/mtv-africa-music-awards-2015-winners/

2014: http://tooxclusive.com/news/winners-mama-mtv-africa-music-awards-2014/

2010: http://jaguda.com/2010/12/12/mtv-africa-music-awards-mama-2010-winners-pictures/

2009: http://www.naijarules.com/index.php?threads/mtv-africa-music-awards-2009-winners.34953/

2008: https://www.bellanaija.com/2008/11/mtv-africa-music-awards-mamas-winners-photos/