The prob­lem with Winky D’s Song Ke­jecha

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

WHEN all is said and done, 2018 has been an­other good year for Winky D as his an­tic­i­pated al­bum, Gombwe, re­asserted his po­si­tion as Zim dance­hall’s top dog.

A year is a long time and 11 months af­ter that ef­fort was re­leased, some may have for­got­ten that the of­fer­ing con­tained such com­pelling pieces of work like Ngirozi and Simba.

In truth, de­spite the suc­cess of such up­starts as Enzo Ishall of the Kan­jiva fame, Winky D is not fight­ing to be the ruler of the Zim dance­hall king­dom he has long sub­ju­gated and dom­i­nated. The real tus­sle is be­tween him and Jah Prayzah for the right to be the over­all Zim­bab­wean mu­sic scene’s over­lord.

He has long tran­scended the dance­hall genre and be­come an artiste that can be men­tioned in the same breath as artistes from other gen­res which, in most cases, are viewed as more “ma­ture” than Zim dance­hall, an art­form con­sid­ered by many to be an in­fant in the coun­try’s fam­ily of mu­sic gen­res.

A few weeks ago Jah Prayzah re­leased his own al­bum, and some will be ques­tion­ing whether that al­bum will be as suc­cess­ful as his past ef­forts. Things just seem a lot qui­eter this time around, as if Chi­tubu does not brim with the in­stant hits that Jah Prayzah’s last few ef­forts have brought.

It is in such an en­vi­ron­ment that Winky D re­leased Ka­song Ke­jecha last week, a re­lease that was fol­lowed by much so­cial me­dia hype and de­bate. One thing for sure, the man that was born Wal­lace Chiru­miko is a cal­cu­la­tive and shrewd op­er­a­tor. Over the years, he has shown that he is more than just your av­er­age chanter, with songs and lyrics that drip of the wis­dom of a poet doc­u­ment­ing life from a ghetto street cor­ner. More than that how­ever, is the way that he has man­aged to build his ca­reer through moves that set him apart from the mad­den­ing Zim dance­hall crowd.

Take, for ex­am­ple, the way he has man­aged to cul­ti­vate mys­tique around his char­ac­ter, mak­ing sure that fans only get to see or hear about him only when he wants. In an age in which peo­ple flood so­cial me­dia time­lines with pic­tures of the food on their forks and snaps of where they lay their heads at the end of a day, an age where artistes as ac­ces­si­ble as ever through var­i­ous plat­forms, Winky D is dif­fer­ent. Em­brac­ing the the­ory that less is more, the dance­hall chanter is as elu­sive to his le­gions of fans as a for­eign act, with the de­tails of his life kept un­der close guard. It would be fool­ish to think that what­ever he does is not well thought out. The less peo­ple see of him, the more they want of the Kam­buzuma-born chanter. Fa­mil­iar­ity breeds con­tempt and the he has made sure that he does not fall in that same trap that many oth­ers, in­tox­i­cated by fame, have fallen into.

So with this in mind, one can safely con­clude that Ka­Song Ke­jecha is an­other of the chanter’s cal­cu­la­tions. At the very least, he would have weighed the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives of re­leas­ing such a song.

Watch­ing from the side­lines how­ever, one has to ques­tion the wis­dom of re­leas­ing such a po­lit­i­cally charged song in the coun­try’s cur rent en­vi­ron­ment. As was to be ex­pected, the song was re­ceived with ex­cite­ment in “op­po­si­tion” cir­cles. The ti­tle of the song it­self, em­brac­ing the political op­po­si­tion’s mantra of “kudira jecha”, lit­er­ally taken to mean to throw a span­ner in the works, makes it fod­der for those that want to ex­ploit its lyrics for political pur­poses. It is a Christ­mas gift, wrapped in witty dance­hall lyri­cism, for those that have sworn that the coun­try will not move for­ward with­out their ap­pease­ment.

Politi­cians will be politi­cians, but one won­ders whether it is wise for an artiste to wade into that murky dog eat dog world. There are many that adore Winky D from both sides of the political di­vide and per­haps it is not ideal to alien­ate those that do not agree with the political stance he has sup­pos­edly adopted. One fan lost is one too many, and when­ever artistes seem to hedge their bets with a political party they lose out in the long run.

Artistes have al­ways been so­cial com­men­ta­tors and some­times when the gods of mu­sic de­mand it, pol­i­tics falls into their radar. The way they speak of their pol­i­tics, per­haps, is what mat­ters.

Artistes that have been sub­tle and less ob­vi­ous with their political lean­ings have al­ways been more ef­fec­tive with their mes­sages. One won­ders whether adopt­ing political catch phrases of cer­tain political par­ties is the best way for Winky D, an artiste whose lyri­cal skill and dex­ter­ity has been proven time and again, to ex­press him­self.

Throw­ing in the word jecha just seems a bit too easy, a lunge low hang­ing fruit that a man of a lesser stature and lyri­cal abil­ity should have tried to pluck. But de­spite all that, per­haps that is not the big­gest prob­lem with Winky’s Ka­Song Ke­jecha.

The prob­lem with the track, like all overt political mes­sages de­liv­ered in song, is that the qual­ity of the song it­self is not put up for dis­cus­sion, as it in­stead plays sec­ond fid­dle to the political message.

A song is not a political news­let­ter and the qual­ity of the mu­sic must stand on its own pair of feet with­out lean­ing on the political message it car­ries. For the past week, the ex­cite­ment on so­cial me­dia by those that agreed with the song’s con­tent was about the fact that it spoke to their own political bi­ases. The few voices analysing the song on its own mer­its were treated with con­tempt by those that now seemed to be­lieve that the message alone makes the song good.

In a sense, one gets the feel­ing that this lat­est ver­sion of Winky D is a prod­uct of the two-horse race be­tween him and Jah Prayzah. With­out a shred of ev­i­dence and de­spite re­peated de­nials on his part, Jah Prayzah has been linked to the rul­ing party and for a long time those against it many have felt that the coun­try’s op­po­si­tion needs a mu­si­cal heavy­weight to be a mas­cot of its own. Maybe Winky D is fi­nally heed­ing that call and tak­ing up a man­tle that, in the minds of some, pits him at odds once again with the man who is now his only source of com­pe­ti­tion. How this will ben­e­fit him in the long term re­mains to be seen, or the whole “pol­i­tics thing” be­ing thrown around be­cause of their songs is just a myth. Only time will tell.

Winky D

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