MDHARA VACHAUYA: HIGHS AND LOWS
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