Enzo Ishall, the Zimdancehall stallion

From Left: Enzo Ishall, DJ Fantan and Ribhe at the recently-held Coca Cola Top 50 awards ceremony in Harare

SOUND TRACK: GODFREY BAKASA

ZIMDANCEHALL is like a jungle where only the fittest tend to survive. For a long time, the genre was dominated by the big four artistes, among them Winky D and Freeman, who have found ways of maintaining and solidifying their position in the Zimdancehall battlefield.

It is fair to say that despite so many artistes coming and showing much potential, there has not been much movement in terms of establishing a new breed of artistes, post the so-called established ones.

Yearly, we have seen a number of upcoming artistes emerging on the Zimdancehall scene who have shown much potential but they, however always fail to maintain or sustain the standard and the level that may have catapulted them to stardom.

It is fair to say that to date many who have come exhibiting this potential also left in a way that has left many wondering what had happened. There are varying reasons that may be contributing to this trend, which makes it worthy for those passionate about the growth of Zimdancehall to investigate.

A while ago, writing on my personal Facebook account, I argued that Enzo Ishall (The Stallion) had the potential to establish himself as one force to reckon with. Critically, Enzo is likely going to break the jinx often associated with artistes who have produced hits, but failed to maintain the momentum.

I also pointed out that Enzo was on course to becoming one of the most commercial and consistent upcoming zimdancehall artistes to ever grace the land. This statement was a bold one, considering that by then, the Stallion had not won any recognition that I could have used to support and justify my argument.

The post generated a lot of debate and opened a pandora’s box. Some argued that Enzo had not done enough to earn the viewpoint I was arguing from. Examples were made, citing other artistes who had made similar promises, but disappeared and many argued that Enzo was to follow the same fate.

Although some arguments were valid, some were made by supporters of different artistes who saw my posts as a veiled attack and hence a threat to their preferred artistes.

This was far from the truth; my focus then as it is now was to recognise a young man who had the potential, the stage presence, the voice, the style and the versatility of breaking what appeared to be a long-standing jinx and become one of the Zimdancehall sensations.

While few are aware that Enzo has been grinding and grafting hard as far back as 2014, let me make my viewpoint from when many of us began to know about Enzo, which is last year.

In a space of just a year, Enzo, with the support of Chillspot Records under the leadership of DJ Fantan, has managed to produce at least seven hits, namely Kanjiva, Kutsoka, Next Time, Matsimba, Handirare Kuden Kwenyu, Chiita kwacho and Magate, all in a space of 12 months and many of these have been accompanied by decent videos.

This milestone is something which I do not recall any artiste in Zimdancehall ever achieving. To me, this is unprecedented, worth celebrating and supporting.

I will submit that this milestone has been a result of a combination of factors working on his side, which other artistes could promise, but failed to achieve.

First, there is no doubt that Enzo is a talented artiste and a typical Zimdancehall one at a time where the majority in that genre are singing what may be considered a watered version of the genre or something not worth of being Zimdancehall at all.

He has managed to fill a void. Secondly, Enzo is based in Mbare and the traditional support from this Zimdancehall-loving ghetto is something that is essential to the growth and establishment the genre, including the sustenance of any Zimdancehall artistes. This is, however, not to say support from others is not important.

Enzo works with and is managed by one of the best recording studios — Chillspot — which no doubt works to his advantage. Lastly, Enzo has managed to get what many upcoming artistes failed to get early on in their careers and that is corporate endorsements and backing from businesspeople, including sector organisations.

On analysis of his video Matsimba, I am reliably informed that people like Pastor Passion Java and some non-governmental organisations played a crucial part, which shows that beyond the Zimdancehall fraternity there are many others who have realised the commercial value and potential that Enzo possesses.

Recently, Enzo was recognised by Star FM as the best Zimdancehall artiste of 2018 and his song Kanjiva won the Zimdancehall song of the year award. This was after the same song (Kanjiva) was voted the best video in the Coca Cola top 50, a record for an upcoming Zimdancehall artiste.

While there has been a backlash and debate on whether the video was the best among those produced in 2018, history will record Enzo as having won the contest based on how people voted. Whether it was fair or not, is a debate for another day, but the recognition adds value and further puts the artiste on the entertainment spotlight.

Let me end by saying many are waiting for 2019 to see if Enzo can maintain and sustain the level of achievement reached in 2018. Many are waiting for the young man to fail so they can justify their preconceptions of “we told you so” or “we knew it would come to this”.

However, to me what Enzo has managed to achieve in 2018 will forever place him in his own league, and history will forever judge him as an artiste who came, saw, conquered and made positive shockwaves in Zimdancehall at a time many considered the genre dead.

His record of achievement for 2018 will not be easily broken. I hope the future brings more success to this hard-working and talented artiste, who set the blaze in 2018 and made us all fall in love with Zimdancehall again.

Our support or lack of it will play a significant role in whether he establishes himself to the level of the big four or Mbare boys. Wishing you all Zimdancehall lovers the best in 2019.

Godfrey Bakasa is an art critic who can be contacted on 0785185985 or email; godfreybakasa@gmail.com

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