SOUNDTRACK: Ronald Magweta
THERE is no doubt that the year 2019 was a big year for the hip-hop genre in Zimbabwe.
Zim hip-hop artistes went from topping radio charts to dominating regional music television chart shows.
The year can be remembered as one when Ti Gonzi rose to his prime.
His verse on Ishan’s Kure made him the most sought-after hip-hop artiste in the country and he went on to do more than 25 collaborations throughout.
The rapper attracted new fans who had never been or were not hip-hop fans because of his musical appeal to the average youth in the ghetto.
His collaborations with Zimdancehall acts also cemented his position as one of the best artistes for 2019.
The year 2019 also saw Hillzy, one of the most talented hip-hop and RnB artistes top regional music chart-shows on television channels like Trace Africa and also being playlisted on Channel O.
The Muroora singer also won a top African award (AFRIMMA) for his song, TV Room, which he featured together with super-talented artiste, Garry Mapanzure.
King 98 dropped monster tracks and featured some of the top African artistes like Nigeria’s Davido and South Africa’s Nasty C on his maiden album, Francesca, and his hard work was rewarded through the awards he scooped.
Artistes like Asaph also had their fair share of brilliance when they dropped their projects and won awards.
However, there is one problem that has hindered progress or growth of the hip-hop genre and that is consistency.
Over the years, we have seen hip-hop artistes come and go. Some have topped radio charts and dropped monster tracks that would have made them untouchable, but they have all ended up sinking into oblivion.
Others have come with very promising careers, but after releasing only one hit song, you never hear of them again.
Just like any other genres which lack consistency, Zim hip-hop as a whole lacks consistency from music/video releases, award shows and even the media that push their works seem to lack consistency when it comes to promoting the genre.
We have had “old school” artistes such as Tehn Diamond, Jnr Brown, Tatea Da MC, mUnetsi and Maskiri, who could have changed the game for good, but what did they do?
They got a few airplay slots, signed a few corporate deals and now no one talks about them anymore unless it is a debate on who was or is the greatest MC or whatever they will be ranting about on social media.
New school artistes also seem to have contracted the “lack of consistency” virus from their predecessors.
When Takura came onto the scene, everyone was in awe, and people thought that they had found an artiste who would terrorise Africa because of his versatility, but one year on, people are now starting to enjoy his Instagram posts and stories more than his music.
I am not saying all these artistes are bad, but they are depriving us of the good music that they used to release, and thus they are lacking consistency.
The same also applies to the award shows. We have seen artistes do well throughout 365 days and be nominated for five or so awards, for instance, and you see them walking out with none.
This can also be linked to the issue of consistency among the hip-hop circles or maybe it is the decisions made by the adjudicators.
We have also seen artistes win awards and the next thing, they are nowhere to be found and some of them will be hiding under the “we are doing music for pleasure” and you will start to wonder where the industry is going.
Zim hip-hop bloggers, media and “touts” are also in the mix as they have also failed to properly push the culture.
We have seen some of them come and go as the artistes they will be pushing also fade.
These are people who are supposed to convince everyone that the genre is still alive and kicking, even though sometimes there will be nothing to talk about.
If one cannot be consistent, they can at least stay relevant so that people have something to talk about.
It is not a bad thing to be the most vocal on social media like what others are doing, at least the day you will decide to drop new music people will be quick to notice that you are back in the game.
Music trends are changing every year and our Zim hip-hop artistes should ride that wave, stay relevant, drop new music accompanied by videos, do more live shows, especially with live bands and not use backtracks.
That way, I am sure we will have an industry to talk about.
As the year 2020 starts, I am hoping for an industry in which the artistes compete head to head with their Zimdancehall counterparts.
Bill Gates once said content is king, and as a Zim hip-hop fan, I am urging all Zim hip-hop stakeholders to collaborate, stay relevant and be consistent.
Talk of the inimitable King Pin, born Tonderai Makoni, who left a huge mark on Zimbabwe’s hip-hop way before all these new breeds came onto the scene.
Death snatched him from us, but his works, which include I Salute You and The Inauguration among others, will always be on every hip-hop fan’s lips.