Fred Zindi Music
Zimdancehall, which flourished in Zimbabwe in the past five years, is a music genre that was associated with violence, raunchy sexy dances, drugs and misogyny. Artistes were known to unnecessarily ‘diss’ each other in a bid to get to the top of their game. There were battles between artistes, the most notable being that between Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz which were exhibited in songs. Many diss songs such as “Ndine Musindo”, “Life YeMboko” “Ndoponda” “Chitunha Chamuka”, “Seh Pampers” and “Soul Jah Love Diss” were the order of the day.
Some of these artistes wrote songs which were meant to simply shock the nation. They displayed an “I don’t care” attitude towards descent listeners. Some listeners were put off Zimdancehall completely as a result.
We criticised such behaviour as an unwanted culture in Zimbabwe. Nobody is trying to violate Zimdancehall artistes’ constitutional right to freedom of expression, but there are certain words which are culturally taboo and which should be avoided in everyday talk. Gramma Records and Zimbabwe Music Corporation used to give such advice to recording artistes.
I am not sure what role Zimdancehall music hubs like Afrimune Records, Chill Spot Records, Mad Level and Body Slam Records play in this regard.
I was instrumental in telling some of these young artistes that they can still write protest songs and about their grievances without offending anyone.
They can speak out against the failure of the system to provide opportunities for young people while the powerful live like kings.
There are many songs which prove this kind of thinking. For instance on Winky D’s “Gafa Life” album, there is a conscious track called “Survivor” that he did with Shinsoman.
Also look at Peter Tosh who wrote conscious lyrics in songs such as “Get Up Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Rights” and that became a popular hit because many people could identify with it.
Zimdancehall artistes have now realised that these ‘diss’ tunes are not getting them anywhere after observing that artistes in the same genre such as Tally B, Tocky Vybes, Killer T, Freeman, Sniper Storm, Dhadza D and Winky D are rising to the top with their more conscious lyrics, hence many of them have made a U-turn,thus bringing peace and stability in the Zimdancehall movement.
The debilitating poverty in Zimbabwe has also forced many youths to adopt strategic political affiliations in order to receive special favours from the economically empowered political parties.
Given the harsh economic climate Zimbabwe faces, like the powerful political parties, Zimdancehall has assisted in transforming some of Zimbabwe’s most impoverished entertainers into ghetto superstars practically overnight. More youths are coming out with beautiful tunes with the hope that they will be instant hits.
This way, they will be able to create employment for themselves as well as have the capacity to look after their families financially. Most of them have now realised that writing ‘diss’ songs will not make the charts. As a result, they are coming up with songs that have positive conscious lyrical content.
There is no need for the Censorship Board to act since the musicians are regulating themselves now. Some are even doing collaborations with established or gospel artistes as evidenced by the collaborations between Kinnah and Terminator in “Vanondibatirana”, Winky D and Shinsoman in the song “Survivor” and Killer T with Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave in “Daidzai Vakuru”. However, there are still a few who are adamant about continuing with the negative lyrics because to them, displaying the ‘rude boy/rude girl’ image is cool.
I spoke with one popular Zimdancehall musician (name withheld) who vehemently declared, “Musicians have a right to express themselves in any way they want. It is up to the consumers of music to decide what to listen to and what to buy or what to watch. Sex and violence are reality and cannot be avoided.”
These are the guys who still sing songs like “Tirikupinda Pachi Terrorist”, thus showing off their ‘tough guy’ machismo. In America, at one point, there were numerous songs about killing police officers,none of which were considered immoral, but when a rap song is titled “Kill the Cops” it is considered highly immoral and dangerous for kids to hear because it raises societal emotions and might influence youth behaviour.
Some of the artistes, unbeknown to them have got beautiful singing voices. Others have begun to seek the services of professional song writers who can produce creative lyrical content. They have begun to sing consciously instead of dissing one another. That way, real hits should come out of them.
Dancehall is not all about dissing each other. There are great Zimdancehall tunes that have been penned by known artistes and have done well. Tunes such as Winky D’s “Disappear”, “Ndini Messi WeReggae”, “Mafira Kureva” and Sniper Storm’s “Love YeMusoja” have done very well and have propelled the artistes to the top.
Conscious, educative lyrics will assist in the development of a peaceful and well-cultured Zimbabwe. Nuff respect to those Zimdancehall artistes who have now come to their senses and who know that: No violence, no misogyny, no sexual abuse, no dissing each other and no drug abuse. Peace and stability inna de dancehall. Ndokutingoma!