Is Zimdancehall losing lustre?

Alick Macheso and Nicholas Zakaria had a blast of a show at Pamuzinda Highway Escape last week where the venue was packed to the rafters with a nostalgic audience.

By Problem Masau

Highlights of the show were when the two celebrated musicians sang the song Mabvi NeMagokora together.
One reveller said the song has stood the test of time and that the “wear and tear” of constantly being played has failed to take the glitter from the song.

Like wine, the song has matured and it was such a delightful sight to see 21-year-olds dancing to the song and singing along.
These young people were probably still toddlers when this song was recorded in the ’90s.

A discussion with Josh Hozheri, a music promoter, focussed on a music genre that has taken Zimbabwe by storm — Zimdancehall.
Hozheri is one of the few promoters who have remained dedicated to sungura music when others have jumped ship to make quick cash on the dancehall frenzy.

Hozheri described dancehall as bubble gum music like its predecessor urban grooves, a genre that he said would not last.

“It is now very rare to find a dancehall show packed like this one. What the promoters failed to realise was that the genre was penetrating a new market and it was bound to make a lot of noise. However, its staying power was a matter of time,” he said.

Hozheri said the failure by Zimdancehall poster boy, Winky D, to produce a smashing hit since 2013 was starting to have a negative effect on the genre.

“It has been a while since Winky D last produced a hit that has shaken the airwaves. His last hit was in 2013 when he released the party anthem, Paita Party.

“Winky D has since dipped, evidenced by his failure to rise to the occasion when he performed at Luciano’s show recently. It was unheard of for the dancehall icon to disappoint fans at a grand stage and this could mark the end of the Zimdancehall era,” he added.

Hozheri noted that controversial chanter Soul Jah Love was the heir apparent for the dancehall throne, but his lack of self-discipline had worked against him.

“Soul Jah Love is very talented and has all the ingredients to be dancehall’s next big thing, but has failed dismally because of the way he conducts himself,” he said.

“He is putting the genre into disrepute because of his endless controversies.

“If he was professional, by now he could have been surviving on endorsements, but no sane businessman would like to associate himself with someone who constantly bungles,” he added.

While artistes like Shinsoman, Killer T, Tocky Vibes and Guspy Warrior have remained relevant, they have failed to release any brilliant hits like before.

Meanwhile, Tocky Vibes — the biggest dancehall find in recent years — could be abandoning the genre that gave him fame.
His latest 10-track album Toti- Toti is a total shift from what his fans have known him for.

Tocky made a name for himself with hard-hitting lyrics laced on the dancehall that appealed to all age groups. These lyrics made the musician a household name.

“Tocky is experimenting with instrumentation. He wants to be a fully-fledged musician who will give his a full package,” said his manager Elvis Bokosha.

Hozheri said dancehall was following the path travelled by mbira when it was an in thing in town.

“There was a time when mbira was the talk of town,” Hozheri noted.

“The entrance fee was exorbitant at Sports Diner and Book Café. The venues were now a preserve for company bosses and the
who’s who in showbiz, but that fizzled out.

“One wonders whether to start preparing an inscription on the dancehall epitaph.”

Only time will tell.

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1 Comment

  1. The problem with this sungura guy Hozheri is he thinks dancehall started with Winky D. He conveniently forgets the likes of Major E who made noise way before him. Artistes change and fade but not the music. Even in Jamaica dancehall did not die with the exit of Shabba Ranks. Dancehall will still be with us, but what will change is the pretenders who just joined the genre because it was the in thing and real dancehall fans will continue to move with the vibes.

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