Home » Arts & Culture » So This Is the Future? [opinion]

It seems every time there is a dancehall function violence erupts. It was predictable that the recently held Zim Dancehall Awards would not end in peace given the bad record that dancehall events in the country have set.

Before the day of the awards, some groups of fans posted on social networks that there would be commotion at the ceremony if they felt musicians from their camp had been cheated.

And indeed they went on to prove their point. It seems sometimes these camps in dancehall just perpetrate violence for the sake of making noise even when their complaints are not justified. It seems those involved in the genre have resolved that violence is a characteristic of the genre that cannot be done away with.

So, when there was a scuffle between camps at the awards ceremony, the clear message was that even at events that are supposed to be descent, dancehall music has to be associated with violence.

I saw a similar situation at a dancehall show at Dzivaresekwa Stadium last weekend. When Freeman was on stage, fans started throwing objects on stage and the musician had to brave the attack to continue with his performance until security personnel intervened.

It appears Freeman is now among prime targets of these attacks. It has happened to him at several shows but I did not expect it to happen in his backyard where the majority of fans were obviously from Dzivaresekwa, his home suburb.

There should be some rowdy elements that have made it a point to attend dancehall events, not for music but to cause commotion.

Now, the picture that has been painted about dancehall music is very bad. Where in this country have musicians performed in a cage for security reasons before the aent of dancehall?

Promoters now have to incur extra costs to erect fences on stage. Such a setting kills the connection that is supposed to exist between musicians and performers during a show.

We are used to shows where musicians can shake hands with their fans when they get on stage while many singers often invite fans to dance on stage. Such is the environment for an ideal show. When musicians are separated from their fans during a show, it is tantamount to watching a live performance video. It is even made worse by the fact that most dancehall musicians perform without instrumentalists or dancers. Watching one man playing a backtrack behind a fence makes dancehall shows fall far below the expected standards.

It defeats the purpose of close interaction between musicians and fans. So, is this the shape that our music industry is taking?

The rate at which dancehall music is growing should give hope that this genre could produce a crop of musicians that would mature to make a mark in the mainstream industry but this background of violence distorts anticipations.

Although most critics agree that dancehall music is a passing phase in the country, the emergence of new genres should always be promoted because it brings variety to the industry.

If dancehall finally falters, some of these musicians will obviously move out of that bracket and become household names elsewhere.

Alexio Kawara, Diana Samkange and Jah Prayzah all started as urban grooves musicians.

They managed to diversify to other genres that took them to a higher level than their urban grooves standards.

Look at Jah Prayzah today, he is now among top musicians and obviously his close fans that supported him when he was starting are still with him.

So, what would be Jah Prayzah’s image if these close followers had a culture of violence? It is obvious that some of these dancehall musicians hire crowds to support them and encourage them to be rowdy to competing musicians.

The fans would not be perpetrating violence if these musicians discouraged their followers from such barbaric acts. If these musicians are serious about pursuing music as a career, they should take another approach because we cannot have a mainstream music industry of violence.

Source : The Herald