…Traditional, Afrobeat mix
IN 1996, slain American rapper Tupac Shakur released his double album, All Eyez On Me. The album comprised 27 hot tracks, including Picture Me Rollin’, I Ain’t Mad At Cha, All Bout You and firm favourite Wonder Why They Call U, among others. California Love was the first single off that hit album and it went viral.
Then a year later in 1997, Tupac’s arch rival in the East Coast-West Coast beef, the Notorious B.I.G released his double album, Life After Death.
The album consisted of 24 hot tracks, including Notorious Thugs, Kick in The Door, Ten Crack Commandments, What’s Beef and, of course, the popular bangers Mo Money Mo Problems and Hypnotize.
Outside of the hip-hop world, the king of pop Michael Jackson dropped one of the greatest albums to date, titled Dangerous. And true to Whacko Jacko’s extravagance, Dangerous was his eighth studio album.
It was released by Epic Records on 26 November 1991, more than four years after Jackson’s previous album Bad, according to reports. For those who can remember, the album features the tracks Who Is It, Heal The World, Remember The Time, Black or White, Will You Be There and, of course, Jam to mention a few.
And coming back home, Jah Prayzah on Friday released two albums on the same day in Harare and then takes the albums to Bulawayo on Saturday. One album is titled Chiremerera and the other one is called Maita Baba.
Now this is where the problem starts! Jah Prayzah had earlier on released the cover art for both albums, with the first one — Chiremerera — depicting a polygamous relationship. Jah Prayazh appears to be on the throne flanked by two of his wives, while a third was seated on the ground holding a kid.
And on Maita Baba he poses with a goat symbolising that he is the Greatest Of All Time. The difference between the two, so he says, is that Chiremerera is traditional music, while Maita Baba is Afrobeats.
The whole move smacks of confusion. Critics have been asking: What is Jah Prayzah trying to do? Instead of releasing just a double album like some of the greatest musicians, he chose to put out two different albums.
What is all the more startling is that these days it is easy to release singles which will then culminate in fulllength albums. The reason being that firstly, there are no record sales to talk about and, secondly, musicians are depending on music streams.
So, for it would be wasteful of any musician to release the whole album at once, let alone two albums at the same time.
Even the radio stations would not be able to play all the songs from the same artiste. Radio stations get to choose which songs they put on their playlist even if an artiste releases an album comprising up to 20 tracks.
So what this means is the other tracks will not make it on the airwaves and even at club level, DJs will still play the tracks they think are hits only. In the case of Jah Prayzah, he seems not to know which way he wants to take his music.
Remember he released the Svovi single in June 2021, an Afrobeats track before releasing a full-length album, Gwara, in July 2021, which was wholly traditional.
Many thought Gwara defined the direction in which Jah Prayzah would take going forward, but he is still caught up in the confusion. While it is up to Jah Prayzah to do music as he pleases, he must know that nothing beats originality and this is why the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo were revered beyond our borders and overseas; it is because their sound remained uniquely Zimbabwean.
So when Jah Prayzah shifts towards Afrobeats we see the move as akin to running away from his shadow. All he needs to do is take one step at a time to perfect his identify before he can jump to other genres which may come and go.
And also for Jah Prayzah to excel in Afrobeats, he would need Nigerian producers, the likes of Kel-P, Don Jazzy, Masterkraft and SperoachBeatz, to make that happen.