Winky D’s latest offering, “Gombwe”, is not the typical Gafa dish.
For the first time, one has to re-listen to songs to try and determine if it is a hit or a miss. By any measure, the 14-track album is definitely different from the talented artiste’s previous offerings.
The sound is different. The tone is different. The rhythm is different. This has annoyed many of the Gafa’s fans. But then again, experimentation is the hallmark of all great artistes.
The diehards will back the man they call the Ninja President. Others will excuse the changes because songs like “City Life (Shift Focus)”, “Simba”, “Marobots” and “Bho Yangu” are uplifting.
But all will agree that thus album is different.
Truth be told, Winky D’s sound has always been evolving. Now he is no longer pure dancehall, a change noticeable from when he released “Spakwa Wega” a couple of years back.
In “Gombwe”, Winky D uses his vintage dancehall intonation, which unfortunately is at times incompatible with the experimental sounds on the album.
This is more of a fusion of West African sounds (Naija), pop and Calypso rhythms.
Interestingly, the West African influence is also visible in Jah Prayzah’s latest offering “Kutonga Kwaro”.
Perhaps African music is now Naija music.
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Winky D says his newest sound is an advancement of dancehall, an advancement that he says has long been in progress.
“… the imagination has been from beyond. I’m just trying to keep it going. The majority may not understand some of the things now but their great grandschildren will,” said Winky D when explaining his previous effort, “Chi Extraterrestrial (Gafa Futi)”.
“Gombwe” sounds like that advancement has not stopped.
Oskid produced “Gombwe”, and he too was behind “Chi Extraterrestrial” — though he did not get credit for that.
For long, Winky D’s younger brother, Trevor “Layan” Chirumiko, has been the artiste’s backing vocalist, producer and close confidante. Not so this time around. And this may explain the marked difference in “Gombwe”.
That said, a combination of goodwill and lack of competition will give Winky D room to experiment and even thrive while at it.
Tracks like “Ngirozi” (featuring Vabati VaJehova), “Highway Code” and “Bho Yangu” have got people talking.
And there is no understating Winky D’s extraordinary song writing skills.
The chanter has a rare gift of successfully capturing people’s emotions — even with a strange sound — by turning day-to-day issues into music.
The title track is a self-praise anthem, which is followed up with “City Life (Shift Focus)”, says failing at school is not the end of the world.
“Finhu Finhu” and “Highway Code” are feel-good songs that have an electro-dance tempo — perfect for partying.
The song “Number 1” (featuring Haig Park Primary School) is like a Nigerian production. “Simba”, a song in which the chanter pleads for divine intervention, is more hip-hop than dancehall.
“Ngirozi” (featuring Vabati VaJehova) is a masterpiece in all aspects. The song proves Winky D has a profound understanding of music: easy on the ear and well-composed.
“My Woman” (featuring Beenie Man), “Hatiperekedzane”, “Dona”, “Onaiwo” and “I’m Hot” are other songs on an album which is, well, different.
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