WHAT exactly defines music, one seems to wonder? At the same time what exactly determines its lifespan? With today’s music mostly being generated through computer beats it seems that quite a number of misconceptions have risen through such music production with some arguing that this type of music will not last and, to some extent, has been labelled as “bubblegum” music.
Reading one senior scribe’s article in one of the weekly papers I was puzzled as to what bubblegum music is and who exactly determines the lifespan of music, if not the audience.
It is now more than a decade since the local music scene welcomed another type of beat called “urban grooves”.
Judging by its name, it is supposed to be for those in the urban areas. But if one listens to this type of music, you end up with different conceptions, as artistes in this music seem to be emerging from various parts of the country.
When this genre was introduced, a lot of people were heard saying that this kind of music would not last. However, 10 years down the line, more people now have a better understanding and appreciation of the local talent in the urban groove category.
While others were of the belief urban grooves was a quick way to make money, frankly speaking, this music has shown the versatility within the music arena targeting the young at heart. There is no doubt that this kind of music has seen the young aspiring musicians being heard even beyond the borders.
For those who have been following the developments in this genre, you would agree with me that most of these young artistes have come of age as well as proved that they are a force to reckon with. Some of their hits have attracted huge listenership despite the negativity that surrounds their music.
The likes of Mafriq, Roki, Leonard Mapfumo, Winky D, XQ, Brown Sugar, Jah Praizah, Senator Vibes and Sniper among other artistes have been criticised for their tunes as they tried to make people receive their music.
“It has not been easy to make people appreciate our music. A lot of people used to say we are wasting studio time reeling out ‘nonsensical’ music but that’s what makes us strong to this day,” confirmed Tawanda Tsoka, popularly known as Tawastok.
The artiste was quick to defend the use of computers in his production saying what mattered was the message in the tunes.
“Our fathers grew up listening to music by the likes of Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi and James Chimombe among others but we cannot continue listening to this kind of music as times are dynamic. We have to move on with the times,” he added.
“There is, however, no doubt that Mapfumo’s music and those who fall in his category is good. But that does not mean we cannot introduce other forms of music as generations differ in taste,” he said.
He said during his heydays, he grew up listening to Leonard Dembo and James Chimombe.
“That was way back when even most newsrooms had typewriters. The same newsrooms have since moved with the times and are now using computers to write stories as they ease up a lot of pressure,” he said.
The same could be said in the music industry as very few young musicians could afford to build a band, as they still require that little money for survival.
From the above sentiments, it is thus wrong in whatever way to criticise these young artistes who are trying to bring a diversity into the entertainment industry, doing away with the sungura type of music which could soon be gone.
If one remembers people used to criticise the likes of 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G, 112, Jay Z, Tony Toni, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg an Ice Cub, to mention but a few, but these artistes have since gained popularity, which no one doubts.
While it is more than 12 years since Tupac died, still many people enjoy his music to date with his albums still selling like hot cakes attracting even the elderly despite the fact that a lot of people once criticised it saying it was gangster music.
The same applies to urban grooves.
Only that very few people who are chained to the past see the music as bubblegum simply because they do not want to appreciate what young people can also do.
Even in South Africa the same story has been told with people rubbishing kwaito and house music but down the lane the music has since gripped many as the beats are simply irresistible at the same time becoming popular in the region.
It actually does not matter whether one is trying to sing like a Jamaican, American or Latin. What matters most is the originality within the music and this we have noticed from the young artistes as they struggle to bring out the goodness of their music.
To prove how popular the urban groovers are, one has to be outside Harare or Bulawayo to see whether urban grooves is bubblegum music as one would be shocked as people tend to like Roki’s tune, “Chidzoka”, Winky D’s “Controversy” or Mafriq’s “Ndomuudza Sei” among many young artistes’ music.
All what these young stars need is support to boost their music. If only we can accept that the urban groovers have the ability to be best musicians of tomorrow. Yes, there was Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Culture among many other successful artistes, but today there is Bounty Killer, Mavado, Beenie Man, Elephant Man, General Degree, Busy Signal and Agent Sasco among other successful artistes who have proved that computer music is arguably gaining popularity.
The National Arts Merit Awards once awarded Roki for his works, a sign that that his music is good and that it is worth recognising.
Why not wait for about 30 years or more to see whether Winky D and those who fall into his category will fall from grace than to pre-judge before the storm comes?
source: The Herald