Ngqwele Dube, Leisure Correspondent
FOUR years after releasing his first album, afro-jazz musician, Sibonginkosi “Mr Prince” Tshabalala is back with another eclectic afro-fusion offering that is laced with a blend of African beats on a jazz rhythm.
The South Africa-based Zimbabwean muso teamed up with Nigerians based in the neighbouring country, Chukwudi Fred and celebrated guitarist, Kunle Ayo in the arrangement and production of the album as he seeks to reach the length and breadth of Africa with his sound.
Ayo is a celebrated session guitarist, solo artiste and also produces for many musicians at his K Cool Productions Studio, where Mr Prince recorded some of the songs for the album while the rest were recorded at Chuks’ Revolutionary Studios situated in the heart of Johannesburg in Marshalltown.
The album titled Mixed Feelings stays true to Mr Prince’s jazz sound but some tracks embrace afro-pop while another track has hints of a house beat.
Launching the album last Saturday at Metro Restaurant in Bryanston, Mr Prince said the title aptly describes the contents of the album as a “salmagundi”, touching on various topics and beats presenting a mixture that he hopes appeal to a cross-section of music lovers.
Mr Prince attributed the long wait for the new album to his wish to come up with melodies that will spread to all the borders of Southern African and beyond. His first album, Ngilamulela was released in 2014 and the muso believes while core elements of his music remains in Mixed Feelings the tweaked sound is an improvement that can win him new ears.
“I roped in Chucks and Kunle in the making of Mixed Feelings, both are well versed with the jazz genre and I think their input has brought a new dimension somewhat, different sound that will get more jazz aficionados hooked while drawing in those who are into other genres.
“I retained the core afro-jazz beat that I have become known for and laced it with afro-pop and in some tracks, house music as I seek a wider appeal,” said Mr. Prince.
He said naming the album Mixed Feelings comes from the mixed bag of not only beats but also the issues that he sings about. There is no single theme in the 11-track album as Mr Prince sings about love, gender violence and memories.
Stand out songs include the opening track, Eyami Ingqondo, a deep soulful jazz track that talks about Mr Prince’s firm love for jazz and how he intends sticking to it while Ngikhumbula Abazali is a cry by a man based in the diaspora who is longing for home, wishing to return home for good and be close to loved ones.
The third song on the album, Don’t Touch advices men to desist from violence when they find themselves in quarrels with their girlfriends or wives.
“I personally think gender violence is senseless, it’s not something we should be experiencing, even if a woman cheats on you, don’t fight them, rather let her go, do not worry about the cars, cellphones that you bought her or money you spent on her, a man can always work for more money,” he says.
Bamangwato War Song is a traditional Ndebele war tune that is fused together with a poem (Ahee Khama), which Mr Prince says they used to recite during the Day by day English lessons during his primary school days.
Mr Prince, who hails from Mawabeni (Umzingwane) in Matabeleland South said he does not envision a 55-year-old dancing to hip-hop or dancehall so with the right marketing jazz shows will always find takers.