If you ask most regular citizens of any country if it is ever a good idea for an artist to sing political messages, the answer will most probably be, “NO!” and mostly rightly so in some instances which we will cover together in this article.
By Michael Mupotaringa
If you have existed for a while on this little planet you may already know that a lot of careers have gone down the drain because of political affiliations even in countries like USA that celebrate “political tolerance”. I can cite many instances where Kanye Omari West lost a good amount of confidence for his Donald Trump support.
However, in my opinion, there are better ways to give political views without losing fans. This article is my attempt to give away the ones I think work best.
Step 1 – Say Political Views, Do not align with a party or persons
“There are no permanent friends and enemies in politics, just permanent interests”
Do not follow nor publicly affiliate with persons or political parties, because persons change from time to time and you can be blackballed by the public for the association. It is always a bad idea to affiliate oneself with actual brands.
Whilst you have a private life, by opting to create songs that should be the mouthpiece of the general public you have to accept that anything you do deliberately or accidentally in the public eye affects the people you serve. Do not be a hired gun, because in the end, you will not be a gun… you will be a used condom.
Now, this is not unique.
Nurses, Soldiers, Police and other people who chose certain paths are not allowed certain things by the ethics of their profession especially that create a conflict of interest.
Well by now you are probably saying to yourself, “I thought this guy was going to show us how to sing politics without losing fans.”
Chill we are getting there.
Step 2 – Do thorough unbiased research on your current political views
Democratic constitutions allow anyone including artists to express themselves. Note that in as much as you have the freedom to express yourself, people have the right to withdraw support if they don’t like what you expressed.
So you must thoroughly research your political views against the ones you don’t adhere to so that if you are to introduce them to the public they are not poisonous. Remember by being an artist, especially if you have mainstream success, you are like the water source that many drink from.
After much research gravitate to a political view and move to step 3.
Step 3 – Only include your political views in your music and never affiliate with personalities, parties or diss them, mention principles only
There is a huge difference between associating with political views and affiliating with political parties. In fact, almost all political parties tend to have great political views on paper but bad implementation, which leads to some of the hate being channeled the artists.
Most parties are never hated for what they promise but rather for their failures to fulfill the actual promises.
In other words, if you make songs that simply represent political views without calling out persons and parties you are likely to come up with music all sides agree with.
A case in point is Jnr Brown’s political hit song, Tongogara. Jnr Brown made no mention of ZANU PF, MDC T or any major political parties in Zimbabwe.
He made generic statements that were observably true for most people on both sides of the fence.
Do you yet see that difference?
Dissociate even with taglines or mottos of parties, tempting as it is to use in wordplay. People may agree with you today then change later.
As I said earlier, “There are no permanent friends and enemies in politics, just permanent interests.”
It is not guaranteed that if people like you today for aligning yourself with a popular party, they will continue after that party fails to deliver.
Suppose you decide to break this rule in a clever way…
Well if you decide to be a bit more vivid whom you are speaking of, you can be balanced. A case in point is a song by Noble Stylz and Blacperl which was released in 2018 ahead of the Zimbabwean election where the duo used Kayfabe to make an argument about what the 2 major political parties were offering.(click there link to know Kayfabe is)
In this case, it meant that the song was not divisive.
Politics is a dirty game; however since music covers religion, romantic relationships, social commentary and other issues affecting humans politically infused music is as important in the culture. However, the game is dirty and it has to be handled with gloves to a certain level that not only protects the artist from being misunderstood by the fans his loves but also to ensure the artistes protection from extremist adherents.
Politics, even when you do play it as clean as possible, will result in a few losses here and there, this blog post only serves to give ways to reduce the carnage.
Mcpotar is an award-winning infopreneur (ZHHA 2014) , 2D animator, Hip-hop artist and published author from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.