The Sunday Mail
IT was one of the most hyped gigs of the year, with animated debate on whether the show would be a success or a flop.
On November 18, as Rick Ross landed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, the noise about his concert taking place on the day at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) grew even louder.
Among the topics up for discussion in the run-up to the event was that of the local hip-hop fan base.
No surprise there!
The popularity of the genre — hip-hop — has been subject to debate for some time. However, the questions were aptly answered when thousands of music fans thronged the HICC to witness the visiting American star in action.
How popular is hip-hop in Zimbabwe?
Prior to the event, some fans had petitioned the organisers to omit Winky D and Jah “JP” Prayzah from the supporting acts line-up as they wanted the event to be a pure hip-hop affair.
Roar Entertainment, organisers of the event, duly complied.
JP and Winky D have become the go-to supporting acts for visiting international singers because of their solid fan base.
But for this event, the honours were bestowed on South Africa’s Nasty C, Holy Ten, Takura and Nutty O.
Zim hip-hop is currently having a great run, but the genre’s crowd-pulling power remains questionable.
In fact, sceptics even questioned Rick Ross’ capacity to attract large numbers in Zimbabwe.
“Akapera kare uyo (He is no longer relevant),” were some of the statements being thrown around.
With the ordinary tickets being sold for US$35, one might have thought people would boycott the show.
However, that was not to be the case.
While the gig had a slow start, the auditorium was packed by the time the headliner took to the stage around midnight.
The “Biggest Boss” managed to showcase what it means to be an international star as he pulled off an exceptional performance.
What made the atmosphere more electric was the fact that the majority knew all the songs he was dishing out.
From the singing along to the whistling and screaming, it was evident that the venue was packed with loyal hip-hop fans.
After the headline act’s performance, people stayed put and waited for the other artistes who were yet to take to the stage. Normally, attendees would have started walking right after Ross’ set.
When Nasty C came on, he managed to get the crowd going, with many in the auditorium singing along to his music.
The rapper, who has already been in the country several times, showcased once again why he is regarded as one of the best on the continent.
At the end of it all, there was evidence that hip-hop has a decent following, contrary to popular belief.
It was a great event, but there are several areas that could be handled better going forward.
Before the gig started, performance slots had been published, with Holy Ten, Takura, Nasty C and Nutty O set to perform before the main act, who was initially scheduled to be on stage at 11 pm.
None of the supporting artistes had performed by midnight, when Rick Ross came on stage.
All the while, people had to be content with DJ sets.
Maybe next time they could try and stick to the script considering the inconveniences that come with changing time slots.
Another area that needs to be worked on is access point control.
There was a bit of commotion, especially at the VIP and VVIP entrances.
While the organisers cannot be solely blamed, as most of the chaos was being caused by the “notorious rogue bouncers”, they could have done more to ensure the smooth movement of patrons into the venue.
At the peak of the show, VIP and VVIP sections became overcrowded as many people without access tags bulldozed their way through.
Rick Ross is active on social media and at any given time the rapper has an average of 20 posts on his Instagram story section.
One would have thought that his Instagram story would be filled with images and pictures of the artiste at some of the country’s tourist destinations during his visit, but it was not so.
Ross would have been the perfect poster boy for marketing destination Zimbabwe. After all, he is well-known for his opulent lifestyle and would have fit perfectly in a sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River.
There was a rumour that the rapper would visit Victoria Falls after his gig, but that was not to be. He flew back to the United States without making the trip.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority should have capitalised on this visit.