The Sunday Mail
AFTER years of struggling with a genre identity crisis, creating content and polishing his discography for Africa’s consumption, Jah Prayzah had to make his 10th album special.
It is an aesthetic compilation of voice and instruments.
Just to show how delicate the situation was for the man they call JP, “Hokoyo” was pre-released twice: firstly as a video mbira session, then as an official video.
Whether it was a case of testing the waters or simply a lack of faith in his own product remains a matter of conjecture.
The title track “Hokoyo” speaks of a father warning his child on how harsh the world can be even if one lives a straight life and does good for others.
In the song, a father gives his son a life manuscript full of dos and don’ts.
The message is accompanied by the most colourful video you can imagine.
Shot in Uzumba and Vumba, the whole setup is ancient rural.
And what is a JP video without dancers and dancing?
The video and the audio become the perfect foundation for the album.
On this album, Jah Prayzah collaborates with a choral group. Titled “Miteuro”, JP and Zimpraise’s song talks about the devastating 2019 Cyclone Idai, which ravaged Chimanimani and surrounding areas, killing and displacing thousands.
The song is touching.
It is a conversation between the artiste and God, where he narrates the plight of an ordinary person.
JP asks God to hear his cry and receive his prayers.
But kudos to JP and his team for showing their prowess in cross-composition and managing to keep the song within his brand of music.
He adopted working concepts that have won hearts across the local music industry and made his own interpretation of those approaches.
“Donhodzo” is the track that would have been a club hit.
Unfortunately, it might just end up being danced to in people’s living rooms and cars as nightclubs remain closed due to Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
With a township funk beat in the same line as “Tsviriyo” and “Eriza”, the track, which was produced by the young and talented Rodney Beats, will make one feel the urge to get on the dance-floor.
Accompanied by hot visuals shot at Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure’s mansion(s), it features a United Kingdom-based lady nicknamed “cookiedough”.
The video vixen is not only an eye candy but she has a body to match and packs some authentic ancient Jerusarema dance moves.
It remains to be seen if Zimbabwe’s national broadcaster, ZBC-TV, will air the video as the sensual dances and skimpy dressing left nothing to imagination.
But if one is looking for a track to get them through this lockdown, they really need to have this track on the playlist.
“Kana Ndada” is an international collaboration that has South African diva, Zahara, singing Shona.
It is a conversation between lovers who last saw each other long back.
Zahara brought her A-game to the track — displaying her vocal prowess in Zulu and in Shona.
Haters are not spared either as JP tackles several themes in his tenth offering. The song “Eriya” does just that. It is an apostolic infusion with deep lyrics about how people hate him (Jah Prayzah) because of his God-given talent.
While the song is good — Mambo Dhuterere’s touch would have added the much-needed oomph to the track.
However, it is also one of the cleanest albums ever released, sonically.
Further, JP managed to show how he has matured as an artiste and how seriously he takes his sound and work in general.
His relationship with Blaqs has birthed creativity that continues to push Zimbabwean music on the global stage.
But I would also like to see him balance his traditional mbira music, which now seems to be getting diluted by Afro-fusion beats.
One of Jah Prayzah’s strengths is playing mbira, an instrument recently singled out for recognition and celebration by Google through Google Doodle in the lead up to Culture Week.
He needs to retain that authenticity and please a huge chunk of the Zimbabwean market which still loves the traditional beat.
The mbira and traditional sound is a sure avenue to break into the international arena.
That would be his unique identity on the international scene as the mbira instrument continues to be celebrated and identified with Zimbabwe and its artistes by the likes of Nas, an internationally acclaimed American rapper.
I would also love to see him engage more regional producers on his works so that he gets a virgin Afro sound.
Godfrey Bakasa is multi award-winning artiste manager, events planner and socialite who has worked with several local musicians. He reviews music, arts events and showbiz affairs on his personal blog, The Vokal Point.