Home » Arts & Culture » Zim Dancehall Debate Rages On

For as long as it remains so popular, like it or not, we shall continue to debate about Zimdancehall. Last week, I engaged stakeholders involved in this music genre to hear their views regarding activities in Zim dancehall.

I asked each one the five questions listed below and I have listed each individual’s responses verbatim.

Here is part one of their responses to the debate:

The questions

How can we discourage some gangster or negative lyrics in Zimdancehall?

Do you think that the producers and show promoters are to blame for the violence brought about by Zim dancehall?

In your opinion, what do you think are the main criticisms levelled against this genre of music?

How can we bring about a resurgence of decent music in our society?

Do you think ghetto life and poverty have influenced the way Zim dancehall artistes and fans behave?

The responses

Eve Kawadza(Afro Jazz singer)

“Artistes should be encouraged to go to school and study music, l believe in that way they can be exposed to different kinds of music and also learn to appreciate it.

“In the long run we can achieve a resurgence of decent music. I think that’s the norm to talk or sing about your day to day experiences, because those are the things you will be familiar with and comfortable addressing. So indeed it is ghetto life and poverty that influences some certain behaviour from the mentioned parties.

“On listening to the lyrics they portray the ghetto and since music is a language it then communicates something to the fans, so its a vicious circle.”

Taonga Mafundikwa (Music critic)

“First and foremost l think Zim dancehall is becoming too wayward. I have no problem with the genre but l have one huge one against the lyrical content being dished out by some of these youngsters.

“Yes there is poverty out there in the ghettoes and some of the lyrics are inspired by that, anger and stress but l think its high time the censorship board made a move to curb some of their unacceptable compositions.

“This music is so popular with commuter omnibus drivers and if one takes a ride on the buses that is the music you hear and it’s sad that most of the lyrics are centred on hate, sex and violence.”

“Promoters should not ride on the rivalries of artistes to make a cool buck.

“Instead they should try to knock some sense into these youths.

“We have one vocally talented youngster who seems to have vanished off the musical radar.

“Appie T is talented but all he can sing is nothing but dirty lyrics which sadly is very popular with the ghetto youths but obviously can not appeal to those who really matter for his talent to thrive. His hit ‘Apa Pake’ is huge in the diaspora with the youths and the ghettoes but that’s as far as it goes. No one would engage him for a full show. I have seen him at one big festival but l could tell by the time he finished his act everyone was in shock.

“The youths will love anything they deem does not conform with what is considered correct by the elders. Even kids growing up being told not to play with fire will do it for the kicks but who will have egg on their faces?

Tally B (Zim dancehall artiste)

“I think it’s all up to an individual Artist to choose the lyrics they want to sing and some thrive on those gangster or negative lyrics but personally most if not all of my lyrics are positive.

“Producers normally only make beats and record artists mainly because they get paid or are looking for a name so mostly don’t have much say on the lyrics of songs.

“Promoters are in this for the money and some of the concepts they use to market their shows can mislead people into thinking there’s proper violence at the gigs of which some will just be marketing gimmick’s or concepts. . The music has mostly been criticised for inciting violence, alcohol and drug abuse, use of vulgar language, youths indulging in sexual activities and all other immoral activities of which some of the lyrics my peers sing really point towards all that.

“We just need to maintain our morals and values as Zimbabweans and sing music that will be able to listen to with your parents without worrying what they or their church-mates will think about you when your song plays. (More Tally B next week)

Master Pablo Nakappa (Jazz musician and former bassist with Winky D)

“Dancehall is indeed music of the moment but the lyrical content truly leaves a lot to be desired.

“Back in the day it wasn’t that easy for an artiste to get into the studio and record. There used to be a process where one would be required to go through auditions if they pass then record. The producers would check everything that makes a song good that included the lyrical content that has changed over the years.

“Backyard record studios are mushrooming everywhere. An artiste can record a full album in a few hours or a song in a day. “No one from the Government cares about the kind of lyrics we are hearing. But I can quickly say it’s hard now with all the technology around to control the flow of bad lyrics.

“Promoters have cashed in on these youngsters with bad lyrics and they have abandoned the good music in preference of the bad lyric dancehall. We need every stakeholder to play a part but for the Government its gonna be hard to stop this music for it has provided the youth with some kind of employment.

Gwenya Gitare Mono (Producer and former Tuku’s lead guitarist)

“One way to discourage negative lyrics is not to give such music some airplay or newspaper coverage

“These days music producers also play the role of co composers so it’s not surprising if they are contributing to the problem.

“But since we don’t have a proper music industry because of piracy and a bad economy,artists have all creative control,meaning they have the final say. So no one tells them what to do since they pay for their own studio time.

“I think the show promoters must avoid the word ‘clash’ as that word gives a picture of violence and they should discourage artists from using violent language The main crtiticism slevelled against dancehall are vulgar and violent lyrics,and also monotony in some of the instrumentation. Even in Jamaica where the genre originated from, the music is characterised by violence and obscenity,for example the Jamaican version of the Sting Festival had to be cancelled last time when violence broke out,just like what happened at the Zimbabwean version of the festival

“Positive music can be brought back by the same artistes who are currently using hate language, they can change and be better role models by singing positive music.

“I don’t think we can blame ghetto life. Ghettoes have been there for a long time, it’s the copying of bad western culture that’s causing the problem, we also grew up in the ghetto on roots reggae whose message was peace and love and it impacted on us.

Robert Zhuwao (Businessman and music promoter)

“This is one genre that has risen from being an underground genre into mainstream genre that is dominating the entertainment, social media and broadcasting industries.

“As such Zim dancehall artistes feel that they do not owe anyone anything for the success of the genre. This to a certain extent maybe right, given the negative stereotyping the genre has suffered.

“One needs to understand that like Jamaican dancehall, Zim dancehall is defiant music.

“Some of our Zimdancehall artistes emulate Jamaican dancehall others put their own local spininterpretation on it.

“Discouragement of the gangster, misogynistic, negative andor hate lyrics can never be brought to book for a number of reasons.

“The youths can relate to it, they view the lingo as normal to their generation. The current Zim dancehall industry is not for the faint hearted.

“The youths will defy any attempts to in their eyes “censuregag” their genre. What they sing is not fiction.

“These are their everyday trials and tribulations in the ghettos they live within. Artistes who sing so called ‘hate’ lyrics may be lashing out at the corporate and social politics that is occurring amongst themselves.

“A huge mistake was made by society and government by stereotyping the genre and the people who work within the genre therefore defiance is inevitable.

“There has been too much criticism of the genre without engagement of the proponents. The youths are angry, but no one including government has bothered to engage with them to identify where the anger is stemming from.

“During my interactions with the youths in Zim dancehall, I have noted an angry, distressed, misunderstood constituency. T

“Their anger stems from lack of employment, harsh living conditions, child headed homes, growing up in dysfunctional families, being orphaned either due parents migrating seeking greener pastures or due to losing their parents to the HIVAIDS pandemic, general suffering, being labelled as drug dirty junkies and being looked down upon as a lower class generation.

Hosiah Chipanga (Musician)

“As I see it. The blame or praise has no taker at this point and time because the real taker has not taken care of the planting but only the reaping. We have a ministry in the Government that has decided to honour arts than the artistes, music than the musician. Our State and radio was supposed to be the brain monitors of our music. They should not only censor music on political grounds which is even healthy to the nation leaving dirty lyrics polluting the nation.

“Promoters hire in what the radio would have already promoted, they are not to blame at all.

“Look at soccer there are rules that govern a player who like a musician was also born with his talent. But a musician is left for the jungle,dressing what he feels like at work, drinking, smoking and behaving in any manner, singing whatever he likes, no yellow cards even red. How can you bring sanity into this God’s special talent,( music ) without national binding, guiding and safeguarding rules? Thats for the dogs. The blame lies with the State.

“Musha we pwere dzisina muberekiinhopi.

Victor Kunonga (Afrojazz musician)

“In my opinion this is a catch 22 scenario where I see the driving force behind the Zim dancehall genre being its lyrical content and in most cases the negative lyrics.

“There is absolutely no control over what an artiste can decide to sing about besides the electronic media censoring what they may deem offensive to play or not.

“When the negativity has no platform on which it can be heard or seen, that may be one way of discouraging offensive lyrics.

“The popularity is in the lyrics, some which are clearly violent. We have heard Zim dancehall artistes having a go at each other and we only get to hear this on radio, TV and other media platforms and hence in a way we have ourselves to blame by promoting negativity. Then again, what would make Zim dancehall exciting without the antagonism? Our show promoters are amongst the biggest culprits in promoting this violence. When they aertise their shows, in most cases we see words such as ‘CLASH’, ‘Versus’ against’ etc.

“That in itself breeds antagonism and the result is violence.

“The negativity, though that cannot be said for all the Zim dancehall artistes.

“From an artistic point of view, the creativity behind Zim dancehall is borrowed and tends to have a monotonous or some similarity in the sound tracks.

Source : The Herald