Sound Track: PLOT MHAKO
WE are already four months into the year and are still in the dark on what to expect on the showbiz scene this year. No solid bangers as yet. Most music artistes are yet to release new projects, save for the Zimdancehall ones who drop music willy-nilly like confetti.
The year 2018 was owned by a few artistes, some new entries and comebacks. Winky D and Jah Prayzah maintained a lead and still remain the most sought-after, crowd-pulling entertainers.
Rising and talented singer Obert Chari pulled a surprise with Mebo, gospel singer Mai Patai made a comeback, ExQ, Takura, Jah Signal and Tammy Moyo rose to the occasion and dominated the year, while dancehall singer Enzo Ishall literally owned the year.
While the trend in the past year was difficult to predict, let alone explain, the music that dominated the charts brought something new and was disruptive to the scene.
As I track down the sound of the future, I will try to make some predictions on what the year will possibly look and sound like.
I will start with the more passive genre which made more noise at the end of the year at the annual awards, Zim hip-hop. Takura, Natasha Muz, and Asaph had a free run last year. So far, Takura has fired warning shots with the single, Noise, that had an accompanying video.
The project is a masterpiece and is complemented by superbly captured visuals, a trend of quality that the artiste has been identified with since entering the big stage. Rapper Ti Gonzi after a lukewarm two years has resurfaced with a stinging duet with Ishan titled Kure Kure. The song and video are probably one of the best productions from 2019 so far.
With great news on the positive recovery of Ti Gonzi following his mugging and brutal stabbing by robbers last month, the anticipation is growing for his next studio project. This could potentially be a bang for the music scene. I wish him a speedy recovery.
Meanwhile, we wait to see if Asaph will maintain the bar he set on his next offering. Ignore this boy at your own risk.
Upcoming rapper, King 98, real name Ngoni Dondo’s moves and determination for the hip-hop scene are set to raise the bar the furthest. He has already collaborated with one of the biggest artistes in Africa, Davido, and has his video on high rotation on MTV and Trace. In a month, he is bringing a star-studded line-up that includes South Africa’s music icon Nasty C, Nadia Nakai and Davido as well for his album launch, Francesca, set for Wingate in Harare. The album, with most songs produced by Cassper Nyovest’s producer and keyboardist, Alley Keys, is likely to unsettle the scene.
South Africa-based Hillzy, beatboxer-cum-rappers Union 5 and ProBeatz, Masvingo- raised Gary Mapanzure and Natasha Muz are leading the line-up for hip-hop artistes who are likely to shake the scene with top-charting music. Celebrated producer Simba Tagz also has a duet with Nigerian afro-pop star Mr Eazi in the offing.
On sungura, the music is still one of the biggest genres in a country with the most loyal and diverse following. However, artistes have been struggling to feed their listeners.
Alick Macheso remains the de-facto maestro with or without a current hit. His discography runs deep and has stood tall for years.
The young generation of the likes of Romeo Gasa, Simon Mutambi, Obvious Mutani, Tatenda Pinjisi, and Mark Ngwazi have for a while remained marooned in the shadows of Macheso and failed to really break the ceiling, but hopefully this year, we could see a surprise.
Baba Harare, who rocked the streets and airwaves with jit track The Reason Why, known by many as Hat Dzemurarara, thought he could thrill with the same 442 format, but his latest album Ramba Wakadzvanya has been relegated to the dustbin and he might need to produce new material soon.
Moving on to the gospel music scene, this is one of the most difficult genres to foretell. The tastes, preferences and birth of new artistes are always elements of surprises. I think it requires more divine connection to understand the dynamics. So far, Janet Manyowa and Michael Mahendere have new offerings supported by great videos. We must brace ourselves for some great surprises.
While pop artistes always get the biggest attention, the country is blessed with some of the finest voices that will likely make an impact beyond the borders. This music and artistic prowess deserve a chance to be heard on national platforms. I have no doubt that some of them will definitely hog the limelight this year.
These are Mncedisi Ncube who uses the name MJ Sings. The Bulawayo-based artiste is a genius and a star already bubbling at seams to blow. Listening to his music, you will be convinced he is cut from the same cloth as the legendary Matonto of Tombofara fame.
Caroleen Nqobile Masawi, affectionately known as Masa, is one moving magic. I still don’t understand why Zimbabwe is sleeping on this songbird. After a sneak preview into some of her forthcoming projects, I am in no doubt she is one of the voices to look forward to in 2019.
Jah Prayzah’s backing vocalist and dancer Fatima Katiji who comes from an artistically rich family is dropping her solo project titled Gara Ndichauya. The move will generate a lot of interest considering she is still part of his paymaster’s third Generation band and has received support from his team.
An apple does not fall far away from the tree. Such describes the talent and drive behind Chengeto Brown, who comes from musical royalty. The daughter of two late legends, Andy Brown and Chiwoniso Maraire, is a musical monster waiting to roar. Chengeto is one artiste to look out for this year.
Wait, what of Vimbai Zimuto? Could the queen of skin be up to something? Following the posting of several highly revealing nudes which stirred a lot of controversy and talk, most music lovers will be anxiously waiting to see what she drops next. This makes her one of the most anticipated artistes this year. She is believed to be cooking something.
Jeys Marabini protégé and multi-talented musician Japhet Mlauzi known as Hwabaraty, a versatile traditional and contemporary musician, the percussionist is in the midst of brewing a storm. If samples from his forthcoming project are anything to go by, then he is one of the artistes to keep an eye on this season.
In the same fold is the frisky, voiced and dexterous guitarist, Mwenje Mathole, who last year came tops in the DreamStar Zimbabwe talent search. He forms part of the next generation of musical greats, judging from his artistic prowess and consistency in sound and compositions.
While the premier league of Zimbabwean music currently has a few teams playing, with the majority congesting the division one, one seed has been showing great stubbornness to germinate and grow in the A league. It is no that doubt Mbeu has booked his jersey in the senior players’ group.
The preview and insights will be incomplete without talking about the biggest urban genre in the country, Zimdancehall. Zimdancehall still commands great following and support from villages to cities and the diaspora.
The year 2018 witnessed a lot of changes with the emergence of new voices such as Enzo Ishall, Bazooker, Pumacol and the dominance of Winky D, Nutty O and Killer T.
The highly competitive genre’s crowns belong to the most versatile, disruptive and most consistent entertainer. The audience only has permanent loyalty to great music. Such a demand and expectation shapes the narrative on who gets the most and dominates the year.
Indications so far have shown that apart from the Ninja president Winky D, Enzo Ishall still leads his Chillspot troops despite the emergence of the crazy-good Master H, Uncle Epatan and X Faya from the same stable.
Whilst some will sink into oblivion this year, Bazooker, Pumacol, Master H and Uncle Epatan appear to be creating great traction with songs and videos, and will most likely create a lot of uneasiness for the old horses.
What is curiously interesting is that despite the new entries creating a buzz, there are several artistes who have continued to run their race, seemingly unmoved by competition and still command a huge following. These are serial music maker Tocky Vibes, Freeman, Killer T and problem child Soul Jah Love. These artistes seem to have mastered the Coca-Cola formula and know how to make not only hits, but great music which keeps them afloat throughout the year.
Ras Caleb is on a rebound with his new song Jah Jah Ndichengeteyi, a song that speaks to the times and will sooth so many souls in this time of great despair and hardships.
There is a great likelihood of a great audience shifting towards more calm and low-tempo music in the face of a growing disconnect from the loud and up-tempo music, especially by the older and mature generation. This is likely going to create a huge demand and opportunity for more chilled, but moving music.
With so many surprises to anticipate this year, Winky D and Jah Prayzah have already set the pace with the former sitting at a record 1,8 million views in six weeks for the Mugarden video that features Gemma Griffiths, while Jah Prayzah’s Chikomo has a whopping 500 000 views in two weeks. Remember, music is now a numbers game. Until next time, the plot thickens.