JP, compliments of the New Year. Last year was your best year ever without any reasonable doubt. My brother, I have seen you riding in Partson Chipaz Chimboza’s car begging him to talk to Josh Hozheri so that he could give you a slot at Jazz 105. I have seen you curtain raising for Progress Chipfumo and that hunger you had for success indeed paid off .
Last year you reached the orgasm of your career (nothing to do with the Gonyeti debacle) and so many awards came your way. It was not really a textbook ride or easy stroll in the park. You faced some obstacles here and there. You did collaborations that were received with mixed feelings.
You managed to deal with a lot of squabbles that rocked your band with notable faces like Baba Harare and Gonyeti jumping ship but you stood strong. My brother you became a little Vasco da Gama of this world as you toured the world on impressive shows.
The Davido and Mafikizolo collabo took your brand to dizzy heights. I salute you for that. You did a lot of projects with one of the biggest being at the Coke Studio where you worked with Jason Derulo on a cover song with Betty G from Ethiopia and Joey B from Ghana.
The title track to your album “Kutonga Kwaro”, was largely regarded as a political album although you dispelled it. Initially, your album was not well received with many suggesting that it lacked the spark and character that defined you.
However, towards year end you proved critics wrong when you were touted prophetic. Your song “Kutonga Kwaro” became an anthem as it coincided with a new political dispensation. Well done my brother! Your launch of Military Touch Movement was a noble project on paper but somehow I feel the label seem to have been just a ploy to silence and control your biggest competition Andy Muridzo. You know better!
My brotherly advice for 2018 is that you really need to take advantage of the hype that the new dispensation has accorded you. You must strike a balance between your overseas ambitions and local fans.
You must not completely divorce with your original sound. Of course experimenting with sound is good for your development but remain loyal to your fans with the sound that made you. This year you need to work on your live set to match the international standards; your set is energetic but the sound has almost always let it down.
Dear JP, you also need to grow beyond the same concept of shows. Your set has become monotonous and it is targeted for one demography. Add some sauce bro!! I don’t doubt your creativity and you have to dare new market segments in order to grow.
This year avoid working with Ndochi (Tich Mharadze) alone, you must work with all promoters and other creative people to grow your brand. Limiting yourself to one promoter subsequently leads to limited creativity.
My brother, take control of your image and not be taken for granted by the so called BIG international artistes. You might not have noticed it since you had taken him as a friend, but the Davido debacle hugely affected your brand. You are you, he is him; you are also big so you must not have allowed him to treat you like that.
To overcome this I recommend you invest in a good PR and Communications department. Keen (Mashapaidze) is a good manager and great thinker but like my favourite soccer team Liverpool—he will never walk alone! He can never. Your PR has been lacking. Kisses and favours from a newspaper or two are not enough and do not count for a media and communications program. One day there will come a Pharaoh who knows not who the Israelites are and you will be enslaved. What you need is a proper and real media communications charm offensive.
Keen is your manager not your PR guy, no matter how keen he may be to speak for your brand. Media intelligence is both an art form and something owned by a gifted type of people. Chine vene vacho chinhu ichi. Draw the line. I know by now you must be on your annual vacation after a busy festive so I wouldn’t want to waste much of your time with a long letter. I’m not much of a letter writer myself, bless my soul!
I would say in 2017, a cocktail of factors catapulted you to the pinnacle of the musical Mount Nyanga .You were hard-working, politically lucky, spiritual coincidence and nothing more than that.
This year 2018 its time to brand and establish yourself ready for the international musical jungle. Tuku took the risk in 1998 when Debbie Metcalfe joined him and the re-branding was not radical; it maintained the sound but just changed focus and business approach and that is what propelled Tuku to international acclaim. You do the same.
With your hunger for success, I am optimistic this year is your year once again. All you need to do is listen, and keep learning.