What has Jah Prayzah been smoking?

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
EXPERIMENTS! That best describes a few of Jah Prayzah’s recent works.

He has deviated from the norm – some tests in his music lab, alongside his “magician”, DJ Tamuka, have worked while others have flopped. Like any scientist from Aristarchus of Samos to Albert Einstein, Jah Prayzah, has had his wins and defeats.

His recent offering, “Ronika”, has been heavily criticised by music fans. Most polls on different radio stations reveal that fans are not loving the track.

When juxtaposed with his old traditional vibes that got him the fame he enjoys, “Ronika” is nowhere near its predecessors. This is in terms of lyrical content, creativity and even the video.

Some have said “Ronika” epitomises the failed attempts by Jah Prayzah to change things.

Attempts with tracks such as “Angelo” which he features Jah Cure and “My Lilly” a collaboration with Davido, were lukewarm offerings but with “Ronika” he seems to have hit a new low.

“As much as I love your music, let me say this one louder than everyone, you got it all wrong buddie…,” posted one of the hundreds of disappointed fans, Clapperton Mungofa, on Jah Prayzah’s Facebook page.

However, one wonders why the same Zimbabweans who danced to “Omunye” and “Avocado” would be so averse to “Ronika”. Like “Omunye” and “Avocado”, the new song does not have lyrical depth nor does it send out a powerful message. House music lovers and those who love dancing in general are arguing that “Ronika” is a superb track. They simply want to dance and Jah Prayzah has given them exactly that and a few catchy, sing along lyrics to go with the beat as they dance to it.

“This is a very good song. An Afro-beat house type of song. This is the in-thing. Some people can’t accept the fact that Jah is no longer catering for Zimbabweans only. You need to keep up with the time. Jah is now an international artiste and sometimes you need these types of songs to just dance and express yourself. It is not all about meaning… Well done Jah,” commented one happy fan, Natasha Kakuruwo, on the same Facebook page.

Recently, Patoranking, dropped the track “Available”, there is not much sense being sung there but the beat is delicious and Zimbabweans embraced it. Are Zimbabweans being too critical of one their own?

“Sister Bettina” was a big hit back in the day and it carries the same characteristics as “Ronika”. To add to the dynamics, the dance challenge for “Ronika” on Jah Prayzah’s various social media platforms has received an overwhelming response to such an extent that fans from other African countries and even as far as the United States of America are participating.

This shows that there is a section of music fans enjoying the new vibe from Jah Prayzah. Another plus for “Ronika” compared to “Angelo” and “My Lilly” is that it is an up-tempo track. It is a potential club banger. Unfortunately though, playing the track at live shows might prove to be a challenge for the Third Generation, Jah Prayzah’s band, as this is a very digital track. His band has a bad track record when it comes to interpreting most of his digital tracks at live shows.

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  • gava

    It’s funny someone told Jah Prayzah that if you want to go international you need to lose your identity. People in other countries will not care about his music because it does not appeal to their culture. He sings in Shona and he preaches he is trying to go international? To who? Who cares internationally? If he starts sounding like other musicians he is only going to be compared to those who play this beat and genre the best and he will fall short. He should stick to his identity and appease local fans first and if he breaches the borders it should come as a bonus. Who do you think looks forward to a Jah Prayzah album the most, a Congolese, Ghanaian, Nigerian or a Zimbabwean? The answer is clearly a Zimbabwean, those in Namibia could careless about his music even though he did a collabo with Diamond Platinumz. Who here in Zimbabwe started listening and loving Diamond Platinumz’ music because he did a collabo with JP? Not many care about Diamond Platinumz’s music, why? Because it does not appeal to our culture as Zimbos. Zimbos are some of the people with an alarming level of inferiority complex, we are rarely truly proud to be Zimbabweans. Why does JP think he should sound foreign to be accepted on the international stage? He feels his true self is not good enough, as such if he sounds South Africa, Namibian, Nigerian or Ghanaian he will be worthy to be recognized on the international stage. Mukanya and Tuku are truly internationally accepted musicians who never at once tried to sound like Lucky Dube, Salif Keita or Brenda Fassie. Stick to your identity JP and target your people first if foreigners love our flavor and its great they will tap into it and enjoy. Your videos are becoming explicit, this is Zim, and your video contents are not fit for family viewing, you see your so called pathetic international focus is making you forget how to do an appropriate video. Our musicians should be bearers of rich moral values in the messages and music they produce, but this is video simply accelerates moral decay. Poor JP, some will tell you otherwise but you will never grow if you listen to those who blindly praise even when you release a mediocre song and video.