By Kennedy Nyavaya
With the rejuvenated local appeal of Rockford “Roki” Josphats, a legendary touch from rhumba maestro Koffi Olomide and sleek vocals from Tanzanian BET award-winning singer Ray Vanny, the recently released single Patati Patata was bound to gain instant popularity.
Adding to the cocktail of starling voices, the production and visuals of the colourful song came as a result of an effort from close to 10 local and foreign artistic minds with impressive past achievements.
As anticipated, the track produced at the Passion Java Records stable, set a controversial local YouTube record of over two million views in just over a day.
Yet even with all the hype and mastery of assembling artistic powerhouses under one roof, opinion is divided once more.
Music lovers on one hand are celebrating the meteoric rise of the Chidzoka hit crooner while on the other hand they fear that the urban groover is spiralling into a destructive fast lane at the hands of a cunning benefactor.
Somehow true to the latter, prosperity preacher Passion Java is at the centre of the excitement and chaos seen last week. Thus far, he has funded the entire recovery operation and is pulling the most weight behind Roki’s comeback but at what cost?
Roki conceded recently that had been lost and has the controversial preacher to thank for reviving his career.
“My brother here, Passion Java has lifted me out of a whole different mess,” Roki said in a recent interview with Zimpapers Television Network.
Java has never made it a secret that he is obsessed with fame and relevance. In fact, he has defied known Christian norms and applied unorthodox means in a quest for social media trends.
He has been accused of buying views to make it appear as if his projects are the most flourishing, but has brushed it off disregarding the negative impacts on brands associated to him
“Here is a man using money to influence an entire music sector in the right or wrong way for personal satisfaction. It’s his money after all,” said a music promoter who requested anonymity.
“Musicians, promoters and fans have developed a love-hate relationship with him but ultimately they all want something to do with him because of his apparent benevolence in exchange for blind loyalty.”
The song Patati Patata is an example of how deep pockets have given the man of the cloth an all-access pass to control the most dominant art genre in the country-music.
Java is the proverbial individual, who pays the piper and dictates the tune.
Interestingly, the song title, possibly extracted from a French expression et patati et patata: “…an informal – and kind of fun – way to say that someone is running off at the mouth (talking a lot)…” according to lawlessfrench.com fits Java’s way of doing business.
He will not shy away from mentioning his financial muscle and how this is being used for business as well as for political expediency.
For example, he chose the artistes to fly in, had Olomide chant his name and those of his acquaintances while also getting a generous presence in the video.
One is tempted to think that if a good singing voice could be bought, Java would have entered the booth himself.
Whether or not he will continue to work with Roki without prioritising his own interests at some point, remains to be seen.
But, currently Patati Patata is a glaring example of how Java’s dreams are coming true through musicians. The artistes he works with will have to settle for ostensibly vicarious benefits.