Arts & Lifestyle
Chiremerera, the manifestation of traditional enthusiast and genius Jah Prayzah
BY now, you already know the stuff that Jah Prayzah is made of. That part of the narrative is settled, the man is a genius of sorts.
His exceptional talent and burning ambition to be the best is matched by lyrics rich in Zimbabwean tradition and culture.
The Harare hunk is a contemporary traditionalist in spirit and in music.
For somebody so young – songs like Goto, Mhondoro and Ticheneke to mention a few – are classic examples of JP’s word prowess and admirable understanding of the ancient way of the Zimbabwean way of life.
In his pomp, Jah Prayzah can simply sweep you into a world of old culture, in song, indeed a firm favourite of the Zimbabwean public.
I believe this will be the feat which will take his career to dizzy heights.
This is true of his latest 12th studio album, titled Chiremerera, or dignity in English.
The 13-track album is a continuation of what I mentioned when the contemporary singer last put an album out, Gwara in 2021.
In that review, I pointed out that Gwara (way, direction or guidance) was an indication of the path Jah Prayzah is taking his music.
And now that the follow-up album, Chiremerera, nobody can doubt his intent.
The album is purely a manifestation of the real Jah Prayzah. Forget about his swag and glitzy persona, Jah Prayzah is rooted in his tradition, and he is good at it.
Even his voice works well when he sings traditional music as opposed to Afrobeats.
Frankly speaking, Chiremerera is a marvel to listen to. Believers and non-believers by now should give him his props.
The sound on Chiremerera gives credence to the long-held argument by such luminaries as Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi that “there is no better you than you.”
Simply put, it means nothing beats originality so I shudder to think why Jah Prayzah even goes to great lengths to try and sing Afrobeats when we now believe in his craft, which is traditional contemporary.
This is definitely the sound of tomorrow, and one which will put him on the global stage.
That said, on Chiremerera, it features the talents of songstress Feli Nandi on Sarungano and it is the only collabo on the album.
The album talks to you and me. It talks about the day-to-day struggles, that in life we all need something we call our own.
The first song, Mhandu Yenhamo, is a wish to have a better life, a better somebody and for posterity.
The track is a slow tempo, but the mbira and hosho linger throughout the track, giving it that rare feel.
Hasha follows up at the same tempo, with Jah Prayzah’s raspy voice standing out. The one thing that is clear on the track is he gave room for backing vocalists to lead, in the manner akin to Tuku music.
As said earlier, the album speaks about the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans and rheir everyday experiences. For instance, on Zibundu (anger) he talks about gona, a charm which is affecting a family.
Usually, it is believed that when ancestors are not happy, they cause disharmony or discomfort within the family. So, Zibundu it is a plea to the ancestors to forgive and forget.
Pachedu goes a gear up and also Jah Prayzah lays a deep voice akin to Mukanya’s signature voice but remains in the character. The feel-good song talks about family relationships, that blood is thicker than water.
There is no doubt that to savour or rather enjoy this album you need to pay attention to the lyrics and that way the message will sink in.
The other tracks that can tickle your fancy include Tenda, Kurarama, Teya Mariva, Chirege Chiyambuke, Gonan’ombe, Hurungudo and Wanga Wakarara.
Perhaps it might be worthwhile to take a close listen to the title track Chiremerera. Jah Prayzah always sings for his supper.
And this is the track he shows his political views.
“Ndakagara pandakagadzikwa, handina kubvuta ndakasarudzwa, ndine zodzo ndine mhondoro, haungamise kunaya kwemvura”. Well, it sounds like entitlement there and already the song has caused discord in some quarters, with critics saying he was appeasing the establishment.
We all know how the regime has been struggling with legitimacy since its inception in November 2017 and on Chiremerera Jah Prayzah seems to side with the powers-that-be.
That said, musicians always have poetic licence and, if Jah Prayzah sees the regime in such good light, then well and good!