Home » Arts & Culture » Sulu Finds the Magic

The ability to maintain a balance between party songs and touching insightful compositions with important historical messages distinguished the late Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu from most musicians of his time.

Chopper would spice sing-along and danceable songs like “Suduruka”, “Karumba”, “Dzandipedza Mafuta” and “Zuva Raenda” with indispensable revolutionary tracks like “Ndarangarira Gamba”, “Pane Asipo”, “One Way” and “Ndima”.

His touching lyrics chronicled important historical events and were complemented with a slow tempo that provokes emotions and imagination. It was Chopper’s magic.

With his fifth album “Gunship”, Chopper’s heir Suluman has found this magic. Although Sulu tried his best to emulate his father and even went further to create a unique dendera beat in a good way on his previous albums, the magic of touching compositions seemed to evade him.

Now he has discovered the magic and the track “Hondo” on “Gunship” says it all. Besides other good tracks on the album, “Hondo” speaks to the heart and comes in the mould of “Ndarangarira Gamba” and “Pane Asipo”. It is a touching song on which Sulu reckons that every establishment, nation or kingdom is rooted in an important foundation that is usually set by a liberation war. He sings about how bloodshed and sacrifices in such foundations define the present establishments.

The message on the song is: “Every nation has its history. We have come this far because some people died fighting for us. We are here because of war.”

On this album, Sulu did all the vocals and the striking resemblance of his voice to Chopper’s vocals makes the song “Hondo” outstanding. The song brings an important emotional feel to the album that carries other exciting and sing-along songs like “Nyuchi”, “Phone”, “Chirongo” and “Moto”.

But the touching song is not the only manifestation of Chopper’s spirit in Sulu. For the first time Sulu did a song in Swahili, a language regularly used by Chopper in some of his hits including “Africa Inalia”, “Mami Mami” and “Manene Yaongo”.

On “Idah Nhoro”, the Swahili song on “Gunship”, Sulu collaborated with Oliver Mtukudzi. The song is fast becoming popular, reminding people of the duo’s combination on the song “Kata” that took the industry by storm.

Sulu says he is determined to take the dendera brand to another level.

“Revolutionary songs are part of the dendera brand. My father was always clear about his beliefs. He was proud of his country and he knew his roots. He did not tolerate ideas that go against pan-Africanism and that is why he did revolutionary songs,” said Sulu.

“Some people did not understand his music and they said he was a politician. He was not. He was just a patriotic Zimbabwean who was proud of his history. He knew the importance of the safeguarding the gains of the liberation struggle. He knew the importance of reminding people about where we came from.

“I am taking over from him in those beliefs and the song ‘Hondo’ is the beginning of my journey in that direction. I could not take all the traits of his music at one go because I was also trying to build my unique brand. I am happy my brand is growing and I am now fusing it with more dendera characters.”

“Gunship” has shown that Sulu is determined to continue building his own unique brand. The coming in of guitarists Trust Samende of Mokoomba and Mono Mukundu as well as saxophonist Joseph Chineuriri on the new album has enhanced the subtle jazzy feel that differentiates Sulu’s music from other dendera artistes.

Sulu’s acoustic guitar is also prominent and the musician brought in Mtukudzi’s hand for more emphasis. Sulu continues to use collaborations to spice up his songs and, besides Mtukudzi, Somandla Ndebele and Soul Jah Love also feature on “Gunship”.

Source : The Herald