Nigerian superstar Burna Boy’s highly-anticipated Twice As Tall album dropped last week and was streamed more than 5million times during its first hour of release. If you are yet to listen to it, look out for track 12, it slaps hard as the African Giant expresses his rage over the realities that have not only bedeviled society time immemorial but even more importantly life today.
By Mukudzei Nyamhamba
His Afro-fusion music has proved to be appealing to an international audience and one can not only credit his ability to use African traditional rhythms and melodies into a 21st contemporary relatable sound but also his open mindedness and conscious lyrics.
There is a lot of socially conscious artists but much of the music does not make it mainstream. Winky D, Cal_Vin and recently the most trending new Hip Hop artist Holy Ten’s Ndaremerwa and Takura’s Mufaro are some of the artists and songs that resonate with the people’s reality and struggles.
A few weeks ago Zimbabwean social media streets were furious over artists not speaking out on the prevalent injustices going on in the country, and as you are reading this one may start to think “he’s getting political”. Come to think of it – the only reason why we are so quick to think that way is because we are not accustomed to freedom of speech, we are mentally shackled and muzzled by the ‘system’.
We may argue that musicians should not be pressured into making social and politically conscious music but the reality speaks louder.
In Zimbabwe we have several young artists whose voices are getting more and more emboldened to speak truth to power. One example is Ding’o who has been singing about what goes on in his community of Dzvirasekwa capturing the daily life and struggles using a Hip Hop a culture that was born out of protest and has had a long tradition to speak out against injustices.
The Game, 50 Cent, Nipsey , Nas and Tupac’s music often times spoke boldly on social ills. Back here at home, Dingo will be chanting, “ngonjo rotipanda hanzi mhosva dzikuwanda, bvisa chemuhomwe otherwise vanokudhanda, vokuchenesa maoko ukazviedza kunge gandanga cause togara nezvitema kunge boys repaGhana”. The use of street language is meant to drive the message home and get the youths to understand better.
As we speak, substance abuse particularly Guka or Broncleer is rampant in both the ghetto and suburbs threatening the future of our youthful population. Zimdancehall which is Zimbabwe’s biggest pop culture and is credited for mirroring society has had many songs that speak on the social ills. On the other hand most people believe local Hip Hop has struggled over the years to become a formidable genre owing to its content which tends to be superficial and less relatable to the average youth.
The great news is, there is a new program aimed at identifying and supporting artists whose music touches on the societal issues.
Voice2Rep Zimbabwe an initiative by Magamba Cultural Activist Network with support from Accountability Lab Zimbabwe is offering an opportunity for 10 socially conscious artists who care about their community enough to tell their experiences of the realities of Zimbabwe, their vision and aspirations for our nation.
Successful artists will go through training and mentorship from development practitioners and leading established artists to help build their knowledge and skills in creating socially conscious music.
Voice2RepZw may just be the opportunity up and coming artists need to Stand Tall and be the next African Giant, who knows? – there is only one way to find out!
Voice2Rep is a Magamba Network initiative under the Arts4Change program working with Accountability Lab Zimbabwe. You may follow @Voice2RepZw across all social platforms for more details or WhatsApp +263 719 862 054