Home » Arts & Culture » Zim Hip-Hop Deserves More Recognition

If our own Zimbabwean hip-hop artiste Brian Soko could win a Grammy Award alongside renowned music producers like Andre Eric Proctor, Jerome Harmon and Rasool Diaz for the Best RampB Song onstage at the 57th Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles recently, then there is no doubt that our current crop of artistes can also achieve the same feat or even exceed it given the necessary support.

Soko – who is also a music producer based in the United States – is accredited for producing the “Drunk in Love” beat of Beyonce’s song. But sadly we may never see another face rise to this level any time soon. Ever since the hip-hop culture took Zimbabwe by storm in the early 1990s with some of its pioneers like Shingirai Sabeta commonly known as “Mau Mau” in music circles ruling supreme, the genre has gone down.

As they say, the wheel is always spinning and when the winds of change shifted towards other genres like gospel, sungura and more recently, Zimdancehall, the popularity that hip-hop used to enjoy seems to have waned and its creators are now almost have- beens.

But if the truth be told, hip-hop artistes in Zimbabwe have been some of the most consistent lot, with their music selling via various platforms.

Despite this, hip-hop still plays second fiddle to other genres. It was out of this desire for recognition that the artistes lobbied for and eventually saw the setting up of the Zim Hip-Hop Awards for their benefit. Sadly, these were mired in controversy, with a number of artistes and music producers complaining that the organisers were biased towards certain artistes.

There is no way that the genre can grow if those who are on the forefront of making it more visible sort of press the “self-destruct button” or shoot themselves in the foot.

One of the main reasons why the awards were established was to give the artistes a platform to articulate themselves and also prove to the world that they have the talent to make it into other areas and awards ceremonies where they can rub shoulders with fellow musicians from the realms of sungura, jazz, gospel and dancehall.

They too deserve recognition, and deserve a fair share in the arts sector which after all, is for everyone regardless of the type of music they play.

In the US, hip-hop is a popular brand that commands one of the largest followings in music, and this is something that we should be happening right here in Zimbabwe. By promoting these artistes, we are helping our arts industry to grow, and since music is known to contribute to a country’s Gross Domestic Product, can’t we also push hip-hop as one of the contributors.

Another case in point is that hip-hop has a sidelight to it, which is dance, and this also can stand on its own as a genre as evidenced by attempts by Plot Mhako’s Jibilika Dance Trust to support hip-hop dances in Zimbabwe. On a negative note, some of these artistes, lumped together with events and awards giving organisers headaches, also sometimes they expose themselves when they pass off singles as albums in some of these competitions.

Does it mean that they lack the depth to come up with a complete album? According to statistics by Reverbnation, some of Zimbabwe’s top 10 hip-hop artistes include Maskiri, Stunner, Junior Brown, Hush One, Rhyme One and Natty Gee, among others, although the likes of Carlprit, Metaphysics, Schingy and Tehn Diamond are also serious contenders.

Russo and MacDee figure as among the best producers in the genre.

Source : The Herald