The year 2018 was the year that the underdogs came to the party and delivered in the music front. The big dogs had the carpet pulled from under their feet without them realizing. The usual main actors did not realize that the script had been flipped and they somehow continued reading from the wrong script only to realize at the end when none gave the usual cheer.
Trevor Mawaka, in Nkayi
In Sungura, everyone expected the usual. Its either Alick Macheso would rule the roost, or in his absence, Leonard Zhakata or Peter Moyo would rise to the occasion. Being 2018, the year of the underdog, one Obert Chari stood to be counted pamamonya ipapo, as they say. Not many knew of Obert Chari before his breakthrough hit, Mebo despite having dropped three albums before. His story was even more amazing in that he did well in year that Alick Macheso released a great album, a fete most Sungura artists will agree is a great achievement. Of course he got a little helping by constant and frequent ‘shoutouts’ from leading Social Media influencer, Plot Mhako, but also a lot of artists got that so Obert Chari deserves his three minutes in the limelight.
Whether that will last or it will be flash in pan is a story for another day, but history will record that in 2018, the young and old danced to Mebo by one Obert Chari.
Maybe the underdog who barked loudest was one Enzo Ishall. Enzo had all odds stacked against him. He was an unknown dancehall artist who if he was to make it would have to fight off challenges from the likes of Winky D, Killer T, Soul Jah luv among other constant hitmakers. The year seemed ordinary, or so we thought.
Jah Signal defiantly jammed the scene with his hit Sweetie whose buzz went up in flames following the release of the music video, The video that features Mai Titi the comedian saw the artist’s ratings shooting to greater heights and kept him trotting from one country to the other and became the most booked artist of 2018.
Killer T released earlier, dropping his jit inclined dancehall scorchers that usually transcend generations. With the year moving towards the end, we all expected Winky D to ambush Christmas with a release that would steal the limelight and also the increase his bank balance. Winky D came in with the politically laced Jecha but he found the limelight already stolen by the Stallion, Enzo Ishall.
Ishall had a good run with, Chiita kwacho, Matsimba and Handirare Kuden Kwenyu and few in the game took notice. When he released Kanjiva, most thought he would be another Boom Beto but he came back with Smart Rinotangira kutsoka, those with musical ears then realised that the boy was ‘running away with relay stick’. He capped the year with Magate, that is still trending with dance challenges on Social Media. He capped a good year by clinching the number 1 spot on the annual Zimdancehall chart on Star FM with Kanjiva and the same songs video voted number one on the Coca-Cola video of the Year competition on ZTV.
ZimHiphop as a genre also saw an unexpected underdog chewing the bone as the top-dogs drawled. In Bulawayo, Cal-Vin had been touted as the king of Hip-hop for long. He had earned the crown and defended it resolutely. In fact, once upon a year, he had ruled the whole of Zimbabwe, Hiphop wise.
But forget of the kings, as a new claimant to the crown came up. He said he was no king. He was a Mambo.
Asaph had been grinding and hustling the hip-hop streets for long and in 2018 the streets paid him back. His single Ndini Mambo earned him more than one award at the ZimHiphop awards and earned him performances at the Coca-Cola Unplugged shows and Shoko festival among a whole lot of high profile events. Stunner, Mudiwa and other hiphop topdogs flew under the radar, but being 2018, it had to be an underdog from the city of kings named Asaph.
Contemporary traditional music had for long been best defined and described as Jah Prayzah’s music. Its a genre Jah has popularised for years somehow the genre and the artist had been interwoven and intertwined in definition and description. Jah had fought off direct competition from the likes of his once prodigy, Andy Muridzo. With Muridzo having a bad year, a year his personal demons were his worst enemies, Jah Prayzah was supposed be under no pressure at all. Maybe he got too cozy in comfort zone and another former prodigy came back to torment him.
To most of Jah Prayzah’s fans, Baba Harare was supposed to be taught gratitude by the tough and unforgiving music industry and eventually come back to Jah Prayzah with his tail in between his legs, the same way most of Alick Macheso deserters did. The previous year he had released Minamato yaRasta, an album which had not caused ripples in the industry. 2018 was supposed to be the year he would eventually curtail his ego and do the logical thing, rejoining the Third Generation band. But from the forgotten album came his savior of a song, The Reason Why “Hat Dzemurara”.
It all changed when he did a video for the song and suddenly everyone took notice and the year was never to be the same.
Jah Prayzah later released Chitubu with his usual pomp and promotional overdrive. He pawned Dzamutsana as the leading single, as he sought to ride on the traditional contemporary beat accompanied by a classy and superbly Vusa Blaqs-directed video. The video did well, garnering unprecedented viewership of 2million in two months on YouTube but on the dancefloor, the fans were raising ‘ Hat dzemurara.’ As of whether the trend will continue in 2019, that can be anybody’s guess, however, what is known as a fact is during the festive season in 2018, most music fans raised their straw hats and chased Kanjiva.