Once again the God of good advice must be working very closely with Jah Prayzah and his Third Generation Band.
After an exhausting tour of the United States and Canada, the group received a rousing welcome from hundreds of music fans who met them at Harare International Airport on Wednesday. That means that they only had one day to rest before the launch of their eighth album, Mdhara Vachauya.
In the Groove
with Fred Zindi
In this column, I shall not dwell on the album launch held at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) on Friday and at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo yesterday. Instead, I will review the album itself.
The first question many would like to ask is whether Mdhara Vachauya beat Jerusarema in quality and production. My answer is “yes”.
Jah Prayzah and members of the Third Generation Band share a chemistry that gives their music remarkable strength.
It’s truly difficult to remember the last time any of them sounded as good as they all do together on the 11 tracks of Mdhara Vachauya.
It seems Jah Prayzah, with experience and maturity, has now discovered an uncanny formula for making all his compositions resonate with the successful Eriza from his previous album Jerusarema. The first three tracks on Mdhara Vachauya have a subtle drum-beat which makes every tune danceable.
The Third Generation Band — Lloyd “Baba Harare” Kurima, Blessing Moyo, Kudakwashe Masango, Darlington Kamukono, Wesley Sayikonda, Biggie Katuka, Braveman Chizvino, Talent Mugove Karombe, Fatima “Stimela” Katiji, Pamela “Gonyeti” Zulu and Elvis Chinounda — gave a stomping performance on this album.
Jah Prayzah has added a saxophonist to his line-up, who adds flavour to Mdhara Vachauya. The first track, not to be confused with Winky D’s Dance Ratofaya, Mdhara Auya, is the album’s title track. The band’s chemistry on this track comes without any musician compromising or overtly accommodating the others. Jah Prayzah’s voice and lyricism-to-paroxysm developments remain intact, but nonetheless fuse with Kurima’s warm surrealist fancies and Elvis’s restless reimagining of the beat. Yes, soon everybody will be singing: “Vanoziva kuti mdhara vachauya. Mdhara wacho ishumba inoruma”.
This is followed by Hossana which opens up with a harmonised brass section. The saxophonist is definitely doing his thing here.
Even the third track, Watora Mari, which is a collaboration between Jah Prayzah and Tanzania’s youthful Diamond Platinum (who is big in his own right), shows the change in direction the artist has taken. The track opens with Jah Prayzah singing in Shona and Diamond Platinum coming in after with what sounds like Lingala/KwaSwahili lyrics.
It closes with Jah Prayzah doing a Shona rendition to this Kwasa-Kwasa danceable song once more where he sings “Darling, ukazunza mazakwatira, watora mari”. I can imagine the video of a lady shaking her bum coming after this.
The fourth track is another danceable tune titled Tsotsi while the fifth track follows a slightly different take.
It’s a love song talking about a lady called Jenny.
Goto is the sixth track, which follows a similar rhythm to Oliver Mtukudzi’s Ndozeza Baba, with Jah Prayzah making full use of the saxophone in this song.
Kurumidza and Seke are other tracks on the album that show Jah Prayzah’s composition skills. Whether by accident or design, the artistic skills come primarily through in the two tunes, which showcase the lively bounce and the international direction that the musician has taken on this album.
I was, however, disappointed to notice that the much-acclaimed song, Hello, which has been receiving massive airplay from all radio stations in the country is not included in this album.
However, Jah Prayzah shows off his romantic side in songs such as Ndide Ndikude and Mbembe. If you once danced to Eriza, you will certainly move to these two tunes.
In the last track, Jah Prayzah gives credence to the direction where his music came from, that is roots, rockers reggae as he belts out In The Ghetto. Here, he sings in English, trying to achieve that international appeal. It really is hilarious to hear him preaching Rastafarian gospel in fake patois. But here is the thing: He tried it in the past in Roots, his collaboration with Jamaican reggae artist, Luciano. With this experience, In the Ghetto is the most consistently enjoyable song on the album as it has a different one drop rhythm to the rest of the tunes on the album.
Jah Prayzah’s song-writing credits include some of the country’s most emotionally fine-tuned songs: Tiise Maoko, Eriza, Ndoenda, Daira, Gochi- Gochi and Chinamira. But here in Mdhara Vachauya, the sound conjures the singer-songwriter’s heyday, and his storytelling is indelible. From the drive-of-shame narrative of Dura in 2006 to Rudo Nerunyararo in 2007, up to Sungano Yerudo in 2010 and Ngwarira Kuparara of 2012, these albums wear their regrets proudly.
After 2012 it has been non-stop for Jah Prayzah as year-after-year he has churned out successful albums, which have been greeted with stylistic and classy album launches in Harare and Bulawayo.
It started with Tsviriyo in 2013, Kumbumura Mhute in 2014, Jerusarema last year and finally Mdhara Vachauya on Friday and yesterday. Thanks to Benjamin Nyandoro of Jive Zimbabwe and Jah Prayzah’s manager, Keen Mushapaidze who have been quietly working in the background. I can predict another mega album launch in 2017.
Mdhara Vachauya is a welcome by-product of an already impressive chemical reaction. Young man, Musoja, Mukudzei Mukombe, you are a shining star which we are all proud of. Keep up the good work!