Maybe they just want something, different?

Maybe they just want something, different?
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

The dynamic changes happening in the Zimbabwean music industry have imposed a dramatic shift of the industry’s operations. The social, cultural and economic implications of these changes have caused a ripple effect that is easily noticeable.

While in the late 90’s and early 2000’s music in the mainstream media was mainly ‘Zimbabwean’ and ‘artistic’, globalisation amongst other factors have changed the way music is produced, distributed and consumed. For the point of referencing, I will use different artists like Thomas ‘Mukanya’ Mapfumo, Chiwoniso Maraire and Mbuya Stella Chiweshe.

The surprised reaction of Ama2k audiences reading this piece after mentioning such names is evidence of the fast untenable change that has hit the industry, and boy did the change hit hard.
There has been a void left with the disappearance of music from the three geniuses mentioned. 

This void has been partially filled by solid artists such as ‘Winky D’; ‘Jah Prayzer’; ‘Baba Harare’ and at some point ‘Andy Muridzo’ amongst others. The same phenomena can be traced to other genres, let us start with ZimDancehall a genre which remains contemporarily in a state of uncertainty.

It is surviving regionally and internationally on the fame of its living legends such as ‘Winky D’, ‘Freeman’ and a few others who keep on holding the genre by a thread.
On the side of Sungura, arguably the biggest genre in Zimbabwe if you are including rural folk termed ‘Pfungwe Dawgs’ by millennials on Twitter, the genre has also gone under major changes.

Alick ‘Baba Sharo’ Macheso since the death of Tongai ‘Dhewa’ Moyo remains at the spotlight while new talent such as Bio DT Mudimba known for his ‘Kujata jata’ track came and went away in the snap of fingers. Others like Mark Ngwazi have tried but largely failed to overthrow and overshadow the prestige and fame of ‘Baba Sharo’ on the seat of the king despite getting noticeable awards. 

While most Zimbabwean music genres are struggling to acquire a new and young audience one particular genre is not: ZimHip-hop. The last five years ZimHip-hop encroached its presence with a promise of dominance through various club bangers that slowly started to replace the much loved ZimDancehall on mainstream media channels.

Do not get me wrong, the genre has always been around since the early 2000s if not earlier but it was mainly dominated by a few individuals now recognised as the ‘OGs’ (originals). The ‘domination’ part in this sense refers to artists whose music topped the charts or played regularly in traditional media platforms such as TV and radio.

One can of course argue that digital streaming services are a true reflection of audience preferences but it is important to note the local media’s role of influencing local awards which are considered as controversial by many Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwean music industry trends are deep and require proper contextualisation to elucidate most of the hot topics.

While this article generalised a lot of issues, one fact remains standing out: the globalisation phenomenon has heavily affected local music in Zimbabwe.
The main/international genres such as Hip-hop or Reggae have not been a major threat but a cultivator of sub-genres which would have been localised e.g. ZimHip-hop. 

However new genres in the region such as Amapiano have mutilated local music genres. Clubs nationwide barely play local music and this leaves huge repercussions for local artists particularly their capacity to perform and financially succeed at local shows. It remains to be seen what the future for both musicians and the audiences as well as media houses look like in the face of globalisation. 

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