In the midst of the night at the heart of its silence, I found myself deep in thought reminiscing about music. I find it as a gift from a force far greater than anything we have seen. It channels itself through the many of talented beings who have been blessed with the chance to possess it and let it come out in different forms of genres. We all have favorite genres of music we prefer and way back when I was younger I took favor in the dance hall, but is it what it was back then? Has it evolved or is it stagnant? A question many people have asked like my good friend Abra Simzz ” Simukai Mandizvidza” penned down.
“What would Bob Marley’s advice be on the growth of the Zimdancehall?”
As I listened to the timeless classics of “The legend” album by Robert Nesta Marley on a flight to Abu Dhabi from Singapore. I read the description of the album which read, “for many, Bob Marley is the face of reggae”. This 1984 collection of his timeless hits has sold 25 million copies worldwide and is still the best selling reggae album of all times.
I am sure we could all agree he was and still is what we regard as reggae music’s most iconic figure. As I sang along to every song and I started to wonder what classic and meaningful lyrics could I ever put in the same category from our Zimdance hall genre. Among my peers within the industry, we have all agreed that it needs something classic and legendary like the great Mr. Marley. When you recite lyrics like ” don’t worry about a thing cause everything gonna is alright” it may not fix all your problems but you feel a sense of hope and faith.
This particular subject about meaning isn’t something Jusa Dementor and l have tried to instill in all the music we produce since we started music almost 15 years ago. Producing such songs as as ” Rise up Zimbabwe ” and ” We are born champions” which brought together young talented Zimbabweans from all over Zim being lead by a vibrant enthusiastic Winky D. I was privileged to spend time with a legend in my eyes, Anesu better known as Jah Seed who as a Zimbabwean has taken his love for music beyond borders. He hosts a reggae show on YFM along side Admiral one of South Africa,s prestigious radio stations and also built the biggest and most popular reggae/dancehall club in South Africa called Baseline. I was blessed and invited into his home where we spent all day discussing issues such of lyrical content and artist development within the genre that we call Zimdancehall.
Lyrics like “ndini ndinorira” captivated the hearts of Zimbabwean music lovers when a young artist named Tocky Vibes rose to popularity in 2014. His lyrical wit and word play seduced fans ears and told a story that people could visualize.
Is music like that what we are lacking? When we revert back to Bob Marley when he said ” He shot the sheriff ” we instantly wondered why he did shoot him? But then he quickly counters by saying he didn’t shoot the deputy. Such lyrics to this day are in the hearts of the young and old and are accepted as “good music”.
We are at a place where young artists continue to grow and capture new types of fans. Artists such as Nutty O, Jahnoz, pop tain, dobba Don and a few others are using different styles and even languages to capture new fans both at home and abroad. In a time of tremendous growth for African dance hall with the likes of stone boy, patron king, Burna Boy, shatta wale striking it big and even being accepted in Jamaica, where are our movements focus The word movement is self-explanatory it refers to move, grow, evolve and various definitions that signify movement. Where is Zimdancehall going? Is it in need of a revolution or a revival? These are questions I have asked my peers and most if not all agree with the idea that our beloved Zimdancehall culture is, in essence, is true running out of air slowly unless there is a drastic change. How would our pioneers who started this movement advise us? All respect to the many individuals who planted the seed to build the music and the culture but it’s our turn to take up the mantel and press forward to not only influence but to provide a channel for young youths to express themselves.”
Could not have been said better. True passion for music, but the question still remains, Are we there yet?