Don’t write Cheso off yet

It was meant to be just another observation on Facebook, one of those random posts but then it turned out to torch a storm.

Is Alick Macheso finished? Is Jah Prayzah now bigger than Macheso? So is Killer T? And Winky D? Should Macheso be mentioned in the same breath as Seh Calaz or Jah Signal?

Whether it was intentional or not, the public relations and marketing team at OK Zimbabwe might have made a mistake of a lifetime when they printed promotional material for yesterday’s Grand Challenge. The promotional material was distributed last Sunday with most publications around the country.

So when I observed on Facebook, on Tuesday, that OK had erred, which I thought was a just observation, social media responded – and the reaction was mixed.  But I will stick to my guns, Macheso is not finished, and neither can you mention him in the same breath as Seh Calaz or Jah Signal. That would be akin to treason.

The OK Grand Challenge crowd draws mainly from the audience that loves Macheso, your Radio Zimbabwe and National FM listeners, your ghetto residents, your “garden boys” and “housegirls” in the low density.

All that aside, Macheso still has the punch to pack in thousands to his shows, Macheso – in spite of the absence of real competition (which Tongai Moyo provided), cannot be compared and should never be compared to Jah Prayzah, Winky D or Killer T. And the basis for such an argument is not even emotional, personal or otherwise. Choose any venue that would suit the argument, Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza, your Andy Millar Hall, HICC, Borrowdale Racecourse, your Large City Hall in Bulawayo, Educare Hall in Gweru, Chinotimba Stadium in Victoria Falls, Pick n Save in Mutare – and let any of these artiste hold a solo act. Seh Calaz would be lucky to draw a hundred people, ditto Jah Signal. Killer T could be luckier, drawing a hundred more. Winky D and Jah Prayzah would fare equally the same, with between 500 and a thousand revellers.

Enter Macheso, Huruyadzo (this being election season, this is by no means a reference to Abel Muzorewa’s UANC, though) and his smallest crowd would be a thousand-five hundred. That would be his smallest crowd, and we are being modest here. If you set him in his backyard, the Aquatic, and being solo, he can be as crazy as bagging five thousand revellers.

This piece was written well before yesterday’s Grand Challenge and I am sure those who attended would testify to the injustice that was done to Macheso by putting his name in the same breath as Seh Calaz, or Jah Signal on the Grand Challenge promotional material.

In fact, by the time of going to print, it had been confirmed that Macheso had pulled out of the Grand Challenge, partly because his name was included on the promotional poster without a contract. And when the last-minute negotiations began, Macheso was not too impressed by the manner in which OK had treated him on the promotional material.

Jah Prayzah could be enjoying his place in the sun, thanks to providing the soundtrack to Operation Restore Legacy, Winky D might be walking on spring feet, thanks to Gombwe but Macheso, even before the launch of his next project, cannot be compared or seen in the same light as these youngsters. Granted, Winky D or even Jah Prayzah might be enjoying the bigger share of airtime on radio or in the kombis at the moment, but that should not be mistaken for a finished Macheso.

Musicians in the mould of Macheso are largely spiritual and suffer from repeated bouts of re-incarnation, you can only write his epitaph at your own peril.

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  • gava

    It is a pity that some people do not give Alick Macheso the respect he deserves, of the current crop of youngster the only one I tolerate is Jah Prayzah because he is a complete musician who composes beats, write songs and then sing. The rest of these youngsters most of them cannot play any instrument exceptionally and they rely on DJ’s to produce beats for them namely Oskid for Winky D. Zimdancehall youngsters are not original and the roots of the genre itself is Jamaica and they are mere copycats who just sing it in Shona but there is not much in terms of creativity to praise. Zimdancehall is an import and because of its poetic and largely immoral lyrics enjoys attention as the moral decay of society has accelerated in the past 5 to 10 years. Attention is there as people seek different exotic beats to kind of bring variety to local genres but many of us can agree how shallow a genre Zimdancehall is. Sungura remains one of our best own homegrown genres that will make you feel Zimbabwean and largely promotes messages of empowerment and upstanding social moral values. The work involved in coming up with a Sungura song is intense from instruments, lyrics and arrangements, that is why not many upcoming Sungura musicians have been able to be original because it is demanding to be a successful Sungura musician as penning a single song is a tall order. Unlike Zimdancehall where Winky D has to worry about the words to make up his song and get beats and arrangements sorted by Oskid, sungura requires one to be a complete musician who can play instruments, write a song and then sing it. For that i will never speak these youngsters as legends, Jah Prayzah has great potential if he can only break monotony and improve the depth of messages in his songs, collaborations with foreign musicians has helped him to slightly break monotony as he fuses foreign beats with local ones, otherwise he still has a lot to do to be considered a legend in my book.

  • dr devil

    Cheso,don’t even bother yourself with these comparisons.you’re numero uno.how can ok Zim degrade you this low.most of us don’t care about OK Zim anyway.I have already stopped buying from OK Zim.Tnx for a blockbuster of an album…Dzinosvitsa Kure.