The Sunday Mail
WITHOUT doubt, musicians Winky D and Jah “JP” Prayzah are the leading performers in their generation.
The two artistes play completely different music but the temptation to compare their work, be it live shows or studio productions, is always high.
But that is normal!
Comparison, or rivalry if you like, has existed long before Winky D and JP came into the mix.
You can talk of fan-created battles for supremacy between Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo, Lovemore Majaivana/Solomon Skuza, Leonard Dembo, John Chibadura and Simon Chimbetu and the Alick Macheso and Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo contention.
This is what gives pulse to the industry as it pushes artistes to give their best.
Winky D and JP’s battle for supremacy was recently rekindled at the “Redefined Concert” held at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
The gig also featured fast rising star Nutty O, who did not disappoint throughout his entire set.
In fact, many believe the concert swiftly ushered the “Handipere Power” hitmaker into the elite league of performers as he put up a polished act that was greatly appreciated by revellers.
Winky D and JP delayed their appearance on stage as the two camps allegedly argued on who should start after Nutty O’s performance.
They both wanted to be the closing act but Winky D eventually played before JP.
As usual, he delivered a fine and energetic act that literally brought the house down.
JP gave a good account of himself though his act was rather lukewarm. It was not the best!
This then brings me to a point where some issues need to be highlighted.
Winky D’s charm on stage has stood the test of time simply because he has not changed his winning formula for years. He has maintained and only fine-tuned when necessary.
What he did when Jamaicans Beenie Man, Luciano and Popcaan visited Zimbabwe is exactly what the Gaffa is still doing.
Pure magic on stage!
After all they say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That some fans started marching out after JP went on stage says a lot.
Yes, there is a possibility that some were tired or wanted to beat congestion that is characteristic when such shows end.
However, those that lasted the whole stretch strangely appeared indifferent.
Revellers eagerly waited for a peak that never came.
Disgruntlement could be felt as dejected fans trooped out of HICC after the show was stopped due to curfew stipulations that existed then.
For the record, JP played good songs that were, however, not good enough to lift the crowd or match what had been done by previous performers.
Some argue the reception would have been different had he played before Winky D.
Showgoers that had the opportunity to attend Burna Boy’s gig in Belgravia, a couple of weeks back, certainly considered the “Redefined Concert” performance a déjà vu.
The “Dzamutsana” singer was on both occasions seemingly detached from the crowd. His playlist was not as solid as one would expect it be considering his rich discography.
It appears a lot has changed with JP.
The singer has several good compositions from his earlier albums that can steal the show for him on any given day but he is ‘struggling’ to make good use of them.
Perhaps he fears his new team will struggle to play some of the songs live on stage.
JP has changed most, if not all, of the men of instruments he worked with during his formative years. Naturally, this creates serious challenges even for a gifted artiste.
Sungura supremo Alick Macheso once faced this predicament when a huge chunk of his senior band members abandoned ship before later retracing their footsteps.
JP’s current playlist during live gigs is biased towards songs from recent albums and those that are more of a computer-generated sound.
We certainly do not know his plans but this challenge can simply be addressed during rehearsals. Emphasis for the new crop of instrumentalists should be on them mastering all songs, including the old.
There is also a school of thought which suggests that changing from the group’s military fatigue to ‘fancy’ apparel has also not been helpful.
The attire was mesmerising and increased the band’s appeal on stage, distinguishing them from the rest of the pack.
Also, Mabla 10 seems to now have a lesser role.
His antics, crazy as they seem, are adored by many. Mabla also has a unique way of psyching up revellers before and during the show.
There is no reason for him to be relegated during major events. He must play the same role each time they go on stage, never mind the magnitude of the event.
And, yes, Third Generation fans need more of that traditional sound.
They also want that spirited performance JP used to deliver on stage when he still frequented venues like Junction 24, Jongwe Corner, Big Apple and Pakare Paye.