The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
IN the world of showbiz and entertainment, January is supposed to be a slow, quiet month. This is, after all, the month after the hectic partying, celebration and uncontrolled spending of the festive season.
The busybodies that love a party need a break and so do their pockets. For entertainers therefore, the month of January is the month to relax and recoup, count loses and gains while looking forward to another year of ups and downs.
It is a time for some artistes to sit back and enjoy the spoils of the most recent festive season. All this is true unless your name is Mgcini “Cal_vin” Nhliziyo.
Barely three weeks into the new year, Luveve’s self proclaimed favourite son is already ruffling feathers. This time, and not for the first time, it is Bulawayo’s first commercial radio station Skyz Metro FM that the Luveve sniper has his cross-hairs on. Once again, and not for the first time, opinion is divided, about whether Cal_vin, a man who is not a stranger to controversy, is right or wrong. Skyz Metro’s hard hitting response to a freestyle took aim at the station and had everyone from fans to public relations experts and renowned scholars dissecting it line for line on social media.
Cal_vin, perhaps to his liking, once again finds himself under scrutiny. In the week that Zimbabwe’s legal year officially commenced, the man who was born Mgcini Nhliziyo now finds himself once again on trial for his deeds or misdeeds.
Cal_vin is no stranger to controversy. Ever since he attained mainstream fame with the Cassper Nyovest-assisted track, Zkhuphan’, the rapper has never been far off the headlines.
There have been accusations that the rapper was a bit too reliant on the bottle, that he was drinking his life and talent away. When he first came on the scene, the rapper used to steal the spotlight from many an established wordsmiths with polished, energetic displays. When the wise waters started taking over, his critics argued, he became lethargic, sometimes appearing on stage drunk for performances. The evidence was damning. When he was asked to plead last year, Cal_vin, hand on heart, admitted guilt, promising to clean up his act.
“When I came back from the UK I discovered that I had this condition and my doctor told me to leave the booze for a while. I would drink and just start shaking. It started as a form of a hangover but eventually I would shake even during the drinking. That’s when I went to a doctor and he told me that my body couldn’t take it anymore. He told me to take a break from alcohol,” the rapper told Sunday Life.
It took only a few months before the rapper was spotted once again in some of the city’s choice watering holes, bottle in hand. However, while his long-term commitment to an alcohol free lifestyle can be questioned, his I’m So Byo freestyle sounded like a sober take on the Bulawayo music industry.
A jury of his peers
Watching on the sidelines while the drama unfolds are Cal_vin’s peers, fellow rappers who perhaps would not mind a bit of the attention that he has managed to attract.
It is easy to forget that Cal_vin has reigned supreme on the local music scene for almost half a decade. In a city where artistes barely last beyond their first hit, this is no mean feat. However, now that he is at loggerheads with the city’s first commercial radio station, some will now be questioning how long this dominance last? Will a spate Skyz Metro see the Luveve born hip-hop monarch lose his crown once and for all?
“For me, if you have like in this case, ‘bad publicity’, it only works if you balance it with good moves of your own,” said Kabelo “Kbrizzy” Matiwaza. “If you have three chart topping hits to follow the publicity then there’s a balance. If you mix all the ingredients properly then you can say that yes, all publicity is good publicity. However, if you follow bad publicity with bad moves as is the case with the said artiste (Cal_vin), then that’s just bad publicity, plain and simple.”
According to Kbrizzy, Skyz Metro’s statement showed that Cal_vin had pushed the station too far.
“In this case for a radio station to come at an artiste like Skyz Metro came at Cal_vin it just means he would have really got on some people’s nerves. I don’t think he is the first artiste to have had a disagreement with that radio station. I think there’s an element of respect with previous cases. They spell it out in the press release that they put up with a lot. To me it sounded like people who really have had enough so I personally don’t blame them,” he said.
Asaph, a man who has had lyrical brawls with Cal_vin as they tussle for the top spot said while it was possible to profit from controversy and “beef” it meant that an artiste had to come up with more drama to keep people interested. It is therefore possible that Cal_vin might emerge with the last laugh.
“There are special cases though where an artiste keeps making good music to the point where people forget about the drama or scandal momentarily like Chris Brown or R Kelly but most cases it can lead to an artiste having to depend on drama to keep the career going and at the end of the day it’s no longer about the music but about the scandals just like Tytan or Stunner. I also think it’s possible for beef to end in some type of financial return because the drama created from beef generates attention,” he said.
Like rappers before and after him Cal_vin has never shied away from controversy and it seems highly unlikely that he will start now. However, the resumption of hostilities with Skyz Metro might not be good for both artiste and station.
Cal_vin is one of the city’s most recognisable voices and for the station to claim that he is yesterday’s man simply does not ring true. If he was a spent force, the station would not have wasted its ink, risking public scorn for their public relations skills, by responding to him. They would also not have paid him the $14 000 as they claimed to have done in the festive season.
Through their statement, they dragged themselves into rappers’ playground, where mudslinging is the order of the day. More replies are likely on the way from Cal_vin who will no doubt milk this latest bit of controversy for what it is worth. It is unlikely that whoever emerges victorious from this bout at the infancy of 2019 will come out “clean”. Sunday Life reserves judgement.