MDHARA VACHAUYA: HIGHS AND LOWS

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide - In­no­cent Ti­nashe Mutero

JAH Prayzah dropped his sev­enth al­bum last week­end at the HICC in Harare and Large City Hall car park in Bu­l­awayo.

The al­bum’s ti­tle, Mdhara Vachauya, cre­ated a lot of buzz among fans. Trans­lated into English, the ti­tle means ‘the old man is com­ing’, al­though the word ‘ mud­hara’ can be used as slang to mean some­one who is gen­er­ally su­pe­rior. In this case, it was widely be­lieved that the ti­tle is the artist’es way of un­der­rat­ing his com­peti­tors’ al­bums from this year, thus lay­ing claim to be­ing the best. This comes af­ter Alick Mach­eso re­leased Tsoka Dz­er­wendo, Leonard Zhakata fol­lowed suit with his 11-track 21st al­bum Mu­tunga Dzose, and Su­lumani Chim­betu re­cently named his up­com­ing re­lease Havasi Ku­tiziva (they don’t know us). It seems like every­one is claim­ing dom­i­nance!

On lis­ten­ing to tracks such as Seke, Tsotsi, and Mdhara Vachauya, one can­not miss that the mu­si­cian did not aban­don the sig­na­ture sound of Tsviriyo, which brought him fame. The down side of this tune is that Jah Prayzah is now sound­ing mo­not­o­nous. He al­ready risks be­ing com­pared to him­self or even worse to his pro­tégés Andy Muridzo and SaMukoko. Andy is bask­ing in glory af­ter re­leas­ing his sec­ond al­bum Ngarizhambe, which car­ries the hit songs Dhafu Dhunda and Derira.

How­ever, there is an ar­gu­ment that the sound is now fa­mil­iar, easy on the ear and more ap­peal­ing to lis­ten­ers.

Worth not­ing is that the theme of ha­tred re­curs in the songs Hos­sana and Tsotsi. In these two songs the Soja ri­nosvika kure hit­maker takes an­other op­por­tu­nity to warn his ad­ver­saries that he is aware of all the evil they plot against him. No doubt the mes­sage will res­onate with most Zim­bab­weans, who in their self­ish­ness be­lieve that ev­ery other per­son is against their suc­cess.

Hos­sana might be a bit spe­cial in that it is every­one’s prayer. When Prayzah sings “Tariro yangu baba, tigare padare reumambo tiku­rukure dzeu­mambo,” (My hope is that we sit in the royal court to speak about roy­alty), in­deed it is every­one’s prayer to live and dine with kings. We all live to see a bet­ter fu­ture.

In the Ghetto is a roots reg­gae track where Jah Prayzah laments the life­style of peo­ple liv­ing in im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties. He pleads to God to bless them all.

Jah Prayzah’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Tan­za­nian star Di­a­mond Plat­numz on Wa­tora Mari has so far proved to be the

a lbum’s run-away hit. Zim­bab­weans have warmly em­braced the song, which comes with a qual­ity video, prob­a­bly the best to come from any of Zim­babwe’s high-rid­ing mu­si­cians. Be­ing the busi­ness­man he is, Jah Prayzah makes no ef­fort to hide his in­ten­tion to break into the African mar­ket.

I don’t want to be mor­bid, but, the video and song might strug­gle to ‘break’ in Africa. It is really good for the Zim­bab­wean mar­ket but I think it won’t tap into Di­a­mond’s mar­ket. I feel the song could have been told bet­ter through dance than drama. It might be im­por­tant for him to note that Di­a­mond has col­lab­o­rated on mon­strous hits with many African stars, in­clud­ing the late great Papa Wemba, P Square, AKA and Davido. Zim­bab­weans are en­joy­ing the part Di­a­mond sings in Shona but the ques­tion is: will non-Shona speak­ers have the same ex­cite­ment? Per­haps the Afropop sound isn’t what he is sup­posed to take on his African and ‘world

mu­sic’ so­journ. Jah Prayzah has the po­ten­tial to make it big on the world’s ‘ethno-arts’ fes­ti­val cir­cuit.

An­other song, Goto, a tra­di­tional Mhande song, brings some­thing dif­fer­ent. Here the artiste ex­pertly in­tro­duces a vamped ‘magure’ acous­tic guitar style. The ef­fect is that he gives us a short, sim­ple and rus­tic pas­sage of mu­sic. To spice it up, later in the song (at 7:23 into the 10:45 minute track) he drops all in­stru­ments to leave just his voice. Per­fect vo­cals are a lan­guage that any mu­si­cal cul­ture un­der­stands. Many mod­ern­day Shona mu­si­cians have made the mis­take of un­wit­tingly ‘freez­ing’ their cul­ture. Many sing in uni­son, not wor­ry­ing about achiev­ing per­fect har­mony. Here Jah Prayzah ad­dresses this short­com­ing (re­mind­ing me of Nobuntu from Bu­l­awayo) — well done!

When the eu­pho­ria around Wa­tora Mari sub­sides, the next sin­gle will be Seke (which sounds a bit like his ear­lier hit Chi­namira), a song that will surely send merry-mak­ers into a frenzy.

One has a feel­ing that Jah Prayzah de­lib­er­ately makes his mu­sic with live shows in mind. Sound­ing like the chil­dren’s game song, with the lyrics gun­guwo senga mu­dodo, vasikana dzvi­rai vamwe sung when play­ing nhodo (a lo­cal game), Seke is a sin­ga­long track that forces you to dance with wild aban­don­ment. — Mu­sicInAfrica

Jah Prayzah Jah Prayzah with his mother

Tan­za­nia star Di­a­mond Plat­numz and Jah Prayzah in the stu­dio

Jah Prayzah fan on stage dur­ing Md­haraVachauya al­bum launch in Harare

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