Soundtrack: Ronald Magweta
ABOUT three weeks ago, Enzo Ishall celebrated his 25th birthday in style, with an oversubscribed show at City Sports Centre in Harare. With only a year in the music industry, the Kanjiva hitmaker has made history by being the youngest artiste to fill up the venue.
Having pulled such a huge crowd in the absence of top musicians like Winky D, Freeman or Killer T, Enzo Ishall proved to have earned a special place in the country’s music space.
Zimdancehall, which became popular around 2010, has grown to be the most popular music genre in Zimbabwe and young artistes draw huge crowds from different walks of life to their shows although during its pubescent phase, it was dismissed as “bubble gum” music that would not last the distance. But numbers do not lie, and gigs such as the Zimdancehall Shutdown event held every year in Harare, featuring big and emerging names in local dancehall, have proven that the genre is the biggest crowd puller in the country at the moment.
Surprisingly, despite the numbers, the corporate world appears to have failed to take advantage of that traction. Companies seem to have continued to push their products through other traditional means such as print, radio and television.
But there is such a huge catchment, especially among the young that the corporate world could capitalise on. They should take a leaf from Zanu PF, which has been using the young chanters to pull crowds at its rallies.
Zanu PF knows that Zimdancehall is the biggest crowd puller in the country and also a favourite of young people, thus it has resorted to hiring the artistes to perform at its rallies. The influence with some of these Zimdancehall artistes is not something to sleep on, but to tap into.
One thing that corporates should know is that these youths are the future. They are the leaders; the buyers of tomorrow and by associating with them, they will be doing themselves a great favour. Others have argued that corporates would not gain anything by associating themselves with the Zimdancehall fraternity, but like I said, they are the future. It will be hard for the corporates to start approaching them in the future, while they dumped them when they were still starting.
Across the Limpopo, in every major event that includes or that will have youths as the attendees, they are backed by big corporate companies, so what is so special about our corporate companies in Zimbabwe? I have heard some say serious corporate companies will not want their brands to be associated with artistes who use vulgar language in their songs; it will be a brand suicide.
In the United States, a country that is considered to have the biggest music industry, Rock or hip-hop investors do not even know the meaning to most of the lyrics (in fact, most of them are not even fans of the genres), but they understand the numbers they bring.
I personally feel that local companies are doing injustice to the genre; youths are probably the biggest consumers of their products, but they always turn a blind eye on Zimdancehall. Imagine the number of people who would buy beers or soft drinks at the events if only Delta decided to sponsor the genre. I would love to give a special shoutout to companies like Nash Paints and Avion. The two companies believe in the youths and have been there for them. Last year, the biggest song in the country, Kanjiva, by Enzo Ishall, was recorded on the Avion riddim, and with that making Avion very popular in the country.
If we are to look at Jamaica, there are a lot of dancehall and reggae festivals and corporates always fight to be the festivals’ main sponsors. In fact, there will be at lot of corporates sponsoring the shows, with artistes still belting out their explicit songs.
Some of these corporates have been using chants from the Zimdancehall fraternity without caring to pay a single dollar to the artistes, yet they shy away from working with them. Where is the logic there?
One thing that these corporates should do is to employ and include youths in their decision-making processes. This is because there is a disconnection between people who run these corporates and the youths and sadly, this is being passed down from generation to generation. Major global corporates are including youths in their businesses and are riding on the crest of what would be trending on particular times, which has made them thrive. So corporates should try and limit their convectional and traditional ways of doing things because they are missing out on lucrative business opportunities.