JAMAICAN reggae sensation Luciano, born Jepther McClymont, is billed to perform in Zimbabwe on April 10 at the inaugural Pacific Zimbabwe Sunsplash 2015.
But before we go deeper into the legendary Jamaican’s visit to Zimbabwe, allow me to digress a little. Just a little.
It is an open secret that Zim dancehall has been on an upward trend though a number of challenges have been threatening the genre’s longevity.
Conservatives have had issues with some of the main characters, arguing that they are a negative influence on youths.
This, they say, is because many artistes in the genre seem fond of spreading hate, profanity, immorality and violence.
Evidently, many Zim dancehall practitioners are inspired by Jamaica’s dancehall kings and queens. And aforesaid negatives are the core of Jamaican lyrics.
But with more exposure and acceptance, Zim dancehall artistes have taken their game a gear up.
In recent years, local artistes have outperformed visiting Jamaicans and it is now proving to be a challenge for the average Jamaican chanter to steal the show here.
Big guns like Capleton, Beenie Man, Busy Signal, Tarrus Railey, Sean Paul and Elephant Man are certainly class acts.
But many of their peers get a good run for their money.
Veteran dancehall artiste Mr Vegas (born Clifford Smith) sometime back suffered the embarrassment of being called not good enough by demanding Zimbabweans.
Last year, Kalado (born Eton Gordon) was a wet blanket rather than setting the house on fire when he was easily outperformed by our Tocky Vibes.
Before him, Andrae Jay Sutherland aka Popcaan was reduced to being Winky D’s curtain-raiser.
And now Luciano is coming.
The “Give my Love a Try” singer was supposed to perform in Harare at Sting 2014 on November 1, but cancelled the trip due to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
Now Luciano’s gig at Glamis Arena this year will be one to watch.
Will “The Messenger” be able to get one back for his fellow Jamaicans?
The Jamaican media is not too pleased by the reception artistes from the island get in Zimbabwe.
They say Zimbabweans have become big headed, and we no longer know who the big stars of the game are.
Apart from his magnificent stage performance, Luciano is known for his hard-hitting social and political commentary and has been steadfast in his support of Zimbabwe’s land reforms.
A devout Rastafarian whose lyrics promote consciousness and shun slackness, which is often prominent in reggae and dancehall music, Luciano is the kind of guy Zimbabwean audiences are likely to appreciate.
Show organiser Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza says Luciano has been around for long and is best-placed to assess the state of Zim dancehall.
The Messenger began recording in 1992, with his first single “Ebony and Ivory” on the Aquarius Record label, followed by his debut album “Moving Up” in 1993.
“Zim dancehall has been in existence for close to a decade but it is the experience of Jamaican artistes like Luciano that has helped shape the movement. We hope when he comes for the Pacific Zimbabwe Sunsplash gig early next month our guys will learn one or two things from him. In fact, we expect him to tell us his thoughts on the genre,” says Chipaz.
Chipaz adds that the Pacific Zimbabwe Sunsplash will feature a long line of star performers, such as Suluman “Sulu” Chimbetu, Jah Prayzah, Tocky Vibes, Martin Sibanda of Ndolwane Super Sounds, Winky D, Soul Jah Love, Transit Crew, Sniper Storm, Fyah Links, Judgement Yard and K-Queen.
“The Sunsplash will be used as an introductory party for Pacific brand ambassadors Sulu, Jah, Tocky and Martin. The unveiling of the ambassadors is a big event on its own.
“We have brought in Luciano from Jamaica to grace the occasion and I believe our partnership with Savanna Tobacco will yield a memorable affair.”
According to his official biography, Luciano is the seventh of nine children and was born to extremely spiritual and musical parents in Davyton, a small district in the central parish of Manchester, Jamaica.
After voicing several covers for the producer Sky High, Luciano released “Give my Love a Try,” which was produced at Castro Brown’s New Name Studio and was a hit in Jamaica.
It was there that Luciano met international reggae superstar Freddie McGregor. Joining McGregor’s Big Ship production company, Luciano began creating cultural, conscious reggae that reflected his religious and social leanings.
Luciano rose to prominence in the mid-90s and he has been steadfast in his art ever since.
The artiste will next month visit South Africa for a concert dubbed “Return To Africa 2015”.
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