Alick Macheso is having a fit. And rightly so.
An album, branded with his name and image, has already flooded the market. But it is not the sungura legend who sang or produced the album.
He is due to release his album in the coming weeks, and – understandably – Macheso fever is running high across the country.
The musician has been playing new music at his gigs, raising expectations of his avid followers. But they are not the only ones who are excited.
Pirates have caught the bug, and they are not interested in merely pirating Macheso’s music. They are pirating his name too.
Titled, “Tsoka Dzerwendo” the fake Macheso album carries six tracks that were evidently not done by the “Madhawu” singer.
The vocals on the CD, as well as the instrumentation, are similar to another piracy job that came before the release of his eighth album, “Zvinoda Kutendwa”.
And this time around, as was the case last time, there is evidence that bass guitarist Roderick Chomudhara features on the latest fake Macheso album.
Chomudhara, who worked with Macheso on several tours in Zimbabwe and is now based in the UK, could not be reached for comment last week.
Now Macheso, who had promised to release his long-awaited 10th studio album on January 16, has pushed the release date back a few weeks to put in place measures to counter the piracy.
Tich Makahamadze, a Macheso lieutenant, says the genuine album is ready.
“As you can see these pirates have become desperate. Now they have created their own music and packaged it to look like it’s a Macheso release, complete with the proposed album name and pictures.
“That is why we have to ensure that when the CD comes out we reach all corners of the country . . . It is important that our logistics be absolutely on point otherwise we will not get a return on our investment,” says Makahamadze.
Although, both Makahamadze and Macheso were not forthcoming on the actual release date, an insider spoke of “a matter of weeks”.
“The production side is the one that is stalling things. Remember it is during production where music can leak like we have seen happening with other musicians.
“The team has agreed to produce tens of thousands of CDs and they have to be sold within two days in order to counter piracy,” said the source.
Macheso’s last two albums- “Zvinoda Kutendwa” and “Kwatakabva Mitunhu” – were pirated before they hit the market.
This forced him to redo some songs on “Zvinoda Kutendwa” just weeks before release.
The latest attack on Macheso has nothing to do with his music, but the abuse of his image and the proposed album name “Tsoka Dzerwendo”.
Pirates took another musician’s work and packaged it as a Macheso album.
Other artistes similarly ambushed by pirates include Mathias Mhere and Pastor Charles Charamba.
In both cases the pirates caused some serious acrimony between the artistes whose images were abused and the singers whose music was on the deceptively packaged CDs.
The little-known Trymore Bande, whose music was packaged as Pastor Charles Charamba’s, was investigated by the police after suspicion that he could have connived with pirates to enhance his image by hijacking Pastor Charamba’s huge following.
Mhere, on the other hand, had to delicately handle the matter where his music was packaged as Blessing Shumba’s latest release.
At that time, Shumba was an established gospel artiste while Mhere was just cutting his teeth.
Granted, Macheso’s appeal is quite low at the moment, but he has his die-hard fans that follow his live performances and listen to his music religiously.
It has been three years since he first “threatened” to release a new album and during that time his popularity has waned as that of rivals has grown.
His New Year’s Eve show at Pamuzinda Ice & Fire in Harare was written off by pundits and music fans alike, but he defied the odds and packed the venue to the rafters in a show full of lasting memories.
The hype is now growing and the market is increasingly eager to hear what Macheso has brewed for what could be a make-or-break project for the veteran.
The sungura giant desperately needs to churn out a hit, lest his 10th studio album becomes his musical obituary.
Just like his last release “Kwatakabva Mitunhu”, Macheso produced his own music on the forthcoming album with assistance from renowned producer Aaron Tom of Gramma Records. Macheso entered the musical fray as a solo artiste in 1998 with his debut album “Magariro”. He followed it up with “Vakiridzo”, “Simbaradzo”, “Zvakanaka Zvakadaro”, “Zvido Zvenyu Kunyanya”, “Vapupuri Pupurai”, Ndesvashe-h”, Zvinoda Kutendwa” and “Kwatakabva Mitunhu”.
And unlike the late Tongai Moyo, Jah Prayzah or Suluman Chimbetu, the multilingual singer – who is fluent in Shona, ChiChewa, Sena, Venda and Lingala – is not a big fan of videos, investing more energy and resources on choreography for live shows.
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