The Tsviriyo hit-maker, Mukudzei Mukombe aka Jah Prayzah, will attempt to make a bold statement on Wednesday when he takes to the 5 000-seater HICC to launch his latest album, Kupfumbura Mhute. The question is whether or not thousands will, indeed, turn out. A similar attempt by Audius Mtawarira a few years ago left him with egg on the face after barely a hundred supporters turned up for his home-coming show.
The singer is promising an explosive album including two rather personal tracks the musician hopes will cement his growing connection with his fans.
In “Mukoma Makaoma”, Jah Prayzah delivers an emotional song that was inspired by his brother’s tragic suicide in South Africa late last year. “Mukadzi Wangu” is a heartfelt dedication to his wife of three years, Rufaro, with whom he has a six-month-old daughter, Kyla.
Jah Prayzah joins a long list of international musicians who have found that allowing their fans into their personal lives can pay great dividends. American rapper Eminem has earned millions of dollars sharing intimate details of his troubled relationship with his mother in songs like “I’m Sorry Mama” and other heartfelt letters of love to his daughter in the song “Hailie’s Song”.
Industry watchers suspect that many prominent artistes are shelving their plans to launch their albums this season for fear of being overshadowed by Jah Prayzah. At the beginning of the year, the top four artistes in the country, outside of Oliver Mtukudzi, had indicated that their releases were due for this April. That was Jah himself, Suluman Chimbetu, Alick Macheso and the rebels trading as Extra Kwazvose which is waiting for Macheso to release, so that they counter his release with theirs.
Whispers coming from within Chimbetu’s camp suggest that his release might only be due around August when they commemorate Simon’s ninth anniversary of passing on, Macheso has said that he needs to build the studio first, before he records. It can be anyone’s guess as to what will happen first, his recording of his next album or the finding of whatever remains of Flight MH370.
This leaves Extra Kwazvose in something of a dilemma.
Speaking to Jah on Wednesday, he said he was losing no sleep over whether any of his adversaries release their works now or then, as he is set on making the launch of his next project one destined for the records.
Listening through the 10-track album one is left with mixed feelings. Some of the tracks feel as if they are just the same old songs that have been given new words, as the tune remains almost the same. That distinct Jah rhythm remains unchanged. The earlier mentioned “Mukoma Makaoma” sounds like “Tsamba” whilst “Mukadzi Wangu” sounds more like a revised edition of “Ngoda”.
Well, that’s for the audience to judge on Wednesday – and his legion of fans later on.
Expectedly, he said all the 10 tracks are family to him, they are like his children, “as I cannot love one more than the other. They are all the same to me. As for tunes, I don’t really think or concentrate on the tunes, I just write my songs and take the words to the band, who then compose the tunes.”
Probably with a bit of inspiration from Clive “Mono” Mkundu, “Mukoma Makaoma” was done on a reggae tip, soft conscious reggae. Opening the 10 tracks is “Kupfumbura Mhute”, which happens to be the title track of the album, a song which he says is purely a dance song, “as dust is sure to rise as our fans will be dancing to this one”.
Either on his previous albums, or elsewhere, Jah is at home doing collabs and this album is no different as he features Charma Girl, from Botswana. “Growing up in music, I have always admired Charma Girl, especially as the front singer for Culture Spears and I always said to myself, ‘one day I want to sing with her’.”
Dhali Wangu is the result of that life-long dream, and in it, a combination of Shona and Tswana, they collaborate to give a love song that is bound to appeal to both sides of the Okavango Desert. The track is quite a delight.
On “Sei Mambo”, Jah, a prolific mbira player, tries the acoustic guitar for the first time. “This is my first time to play a guitar and I think I did well. My fans know me as a mbira player, but with a little bit of nudging from Oliver Mtukudzi, I have played the guitar for the first time and you can feel the Mtukudzi effect on it.”
And as has been typical of his albums, the last track is a solo effort, in which the drum set is discarded and he embarks on a poetic journey and on this one he laments domestic violence in “Kunobuda Zuva”. “I think it is fitting that such a serious topic as domestic violence is treated with such respect, it wouldn’t do well to do a dance song about domestic violence because there is nothing funny at all about violence.”
Though Jah likened all the 10 tracks to his “children” and thus is not in a position to pick on any favourites, reactions from live performances so far have indicated that Makanika, Soja Rinosvika Kure, the title track and Sei Mambo are to be sure hits. The rest, though not bad, are typical JahPrayzah efforts, typical Jah Prayzah music, music which he is yet to name.
“I think over time I will need to identify my music with a name because it is my music. There might be some who are playing this kind of music, some who might play it in future, but the bottom line is, this is my music and I think it is high time I named it, I gave it an identity.”
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