I personally requested an article from Leroy Dzenga last week to celebrate the third year of the Mcpotar blog. I gave him an open writing pad to speak out on any topic and here is his opinion piece.
Apparently anything can trend in Zimbabwe, from a random bush bird up to the most pressing administrative issues. We are a nation of exciting personalities with opinions and a sense of humor that can soothe even the sternest of minds. Zimbabweans are unique, if not beautiful.
We also have artists who have a tendency of kidnapping hashtags and creating musical pieces based on the trending topic of that moment from the now forgotten unoshaya kuti zviri kumbofamba sei to zvihuta, the viral quail bird which has halted the whole digital republic to a standstill .Understandably, Zim Dancehall survives on that type of content but I have a few reasons why Zimbabwean hip hop artists could opt to ignore the waves as they come. As usual I am not claiming impeccability on my ideas and opinion,but for the sake of promoting the writing culture in hip hop a response article on this or other platform will be the only tolerated form of reaction.
Writing a song on a trending topic might seem and sound tempting ,I mean who would not want a piece of art, that markets itself .But there are challenges attached to this leap of faith. As the chikaranga adage states “kana wafunga kudya imbwa otodya iri hono” which can be translated to, if ever one decides to eat a dog, they should go for the male one. The hidden message is that there is a thin line between between genius and stupidity and it is on instances of this nature where the demarcation exposes itself. If the song is not entertain enough or fails to make a mark, this means that the energy of the trend together with its traffic might be redirected to making the artist`s life miserable. Zimbabweans are now bloodthirsty and their proficiency in meme-making has soared to unbelievable heights .Point is hip hop has never dwelled on each and every topic that hits the streets, of course it might be mentioned in passing but writing three sets of sixteen’s on zvihuta is a recipe for disaster or an application for ridicule. If the song sounds unpleasant, I repeat, if the song sounds unpleasant a certain career might receive a burdening dent.
In the event that the song has made waves, trends do not last forever .Their death might carry your career with. I remember during the Mapostori –ZRP era, noise a certain artist did a song titled “Tsvimbo yamadzibaba”.Prior to the song, he was making legitimate progress and that release seemed like a propelling factor to new heights as people spoke about him for the weeks the story trended.As soon as the unfortunate debacle fizzled out, so did his relevance in the public glare .It seemed as if the false ascension had rubbed his previous progress off as his relevance has fallen dramatically. So dropping a bond note joint might sound like the perfect vehicle to your musical Canaan,but when the flame dies out your song and career might follow suit as the people will be looking for that new trivial topic to tweet about whilst you will be at home nursing on the career that once was. Keep in mind that paper flames glow so bright but the heat might not sustain the process of cooking a credible meal, the analogy is applicable to music making. The radio might bump you for the week after that your cd could be used as an ashtray by those mischievous radio archivists.
Supposedly saying people pay attention to the song, if it becomes your entry mark it is difficult to shake off that image off your name for quite a while. Context is even a bigger king than content. So if choosing a trend, scrutiny is imperative. A serious issue like Evan Mawarire`s #ThisFlag may be a better trend to sing on than the last year`s “Zvidzidzo” topic depending on your target audience. The salience of your topic to people`s lives determines the way they receive you. A comical topic will earn you a clown status whilst a conscious topic will get you recognition as a deep emcee. So the trends need to be carefully chosen as they may carry more meaning than they appear to, for instance the bond note issue. It is important to note that it is impossible to speak of it without mentioning politics.Satirizing the idea may be deemed as sheer disrespect whilst going serious with it might be seen as a direct confrontation of the system or endorsement. People are emotional out there, handle their feeling stations with care they are highly flammable especially on issues with political undertones. If you do not intend on debating afterwards, stay away from politically loaded trends.
Also, a trending issue may be a trap .Some things are funny until someone says them, do not be that guy in class who always gets to kill the joke. We saw it recently when one social media character made fun of Fungisai during the time the internet crucified her for a wardrobe malfunction. The tide turned on the character and the jokes he made were evidence used by those who administered timeline justice .So if the trend is in ridicule of a person ,it is important that you ensure that the song will not be taken in bad taste. We live in times were society is now sensitive than ever, sometimes a satire song involving a lady might create friction between you as an artist and feminists. In this context because a song is a lasting piece of text it is important to ensure that you do not overstep cultural and religious boundaries as some prospective fans could end up getting offended. Also bearing in mind that there already has been negative connotations attached to hip hop as an art that has no respect for women and preserving the moral fabric in general.
Lastly, if the urge to release a song dominates, it is not a crime to sing or rap about a trend. But it is important to take time to research on the subject matter so that you have adequate background to allow you to communicate the message. For example,GZE`s song on Xenophobia, that song was on a “burning” topic (no pun intended) but it was meticulously delivered with precision and clarity. Rushing to the booth might allow you to beat the competitor, but always remember you are not a newspaper who fights to break the news .It is better to be the last to release a well- structured song than to be the first to producer an ear sore .
As we wait to see which trend will appear, I will be on the lookout for any hip hop content on them. Remember this is just the humble opinion held by the writer any responses can only be tolerated in form of an equal length article on a platform with an equal number of followers or more. This is to encourage the art of writing in the Hip Hop industry. Remember ,in a perfect world artists should be the one creating trends not merely following each and every trend should be treated with caution.
By Leroy Gurukota Dzenga