The Sunday News
WHEN all is said and done, 2018 has been another good year for Winky D as his anticipated album, Gombwe, reasserted his position as Zim dancehall’s top dog.
A year is a long time and 11 months after that effort was released, some may have forgotten that the offering contained such compelling pieces of work like Ngirozi and Simba.
In truth, despite the success of such upstarts as Enzo Ishall of the Kanjiva fame, Winky D is not fighting to be the ruler of the Zim dancehall kingdom he has long subjugated and dominated. The real tussle is between him and Jah Prayzah for the right to be the overall Zimbabwean music scene’s overlord.
He has long transcended the dancehall genre and become an artiste that can be mentioned in the same breath as artistes from other genres which, in most cases, are viewed as more “mature” than Zim dancehall, an art-form considered by many to be an infant in the country’s family of music genres.
A few weeks ago Jah Prayzah released his own album, and some will be questioning whether that album will be as successful as his past efforts. Things just seem a lot quieter this time around, as if Chitubu does not brim with the instant hits that Jah Prayzah’s last few efforts have brought.
It is in such an environment that Winky D released Kasong Kejecha last week, a release that was followed by much social media hype and debate. One thing for sure, the man that was born Wallace Chirumiko is a calculative and shrewd operator.
Over the years, he has shown that he is more than just your average chanter, with songs and lyrics that drip of the wisdom of a poet documenting life from a ghetto street corner. More than that however, is the way that he has managed to build his career through moves that set him apart from the maddening Zim dancehall crowd.
Take, for example, the way he has managed to cultivate mystique around his character, making sure that fans only get to see or hear about him only when he wants. In an age in which people flood social media timelines with pictures of the food on their forks and snaps of where they lay their heads at the end of a day, an age where artistes as accessible as ever through various platforms, Winky D is different.
Embracing the theory that less is more, the dancehall chanter is as elusive to his legions of fans as a foreign act, with the details of his life kept under close guard. It would be foolish to think that whatever he does is not well thought out. The less people see of him, the more they want of the Kambuzuma-born chanter. Familiarity breeds contempt and the he has made sure that he does not fall in that same trap that many others, intoxicated by fame, have fallen into.
So with this in mind, one can safely conclude that KaSong Kejecha is another of the chanter’s calculations. At the very least, he would have weighed the positives and negatives of releasing such a song.
Watching from the sidelines however, one has to question the wisdom of releasing such a politically charged song in the country’s current environment. As was to be expected, the song was received with excitement in “opposition” circles. The title of the song itself, embracing the political opposition’s mantra of “kudira jecha”, literally taken to mean to throw a spanner in the works, makes it fodder for those that want to exploit its lyrics for political purposes. It is a Christmas gift, wrapped in witty dancehall lyricism, for those that have sworn that the country will not move forward without their appeasement.
Politicians will be politicians, but one wonders whether it is wise for an artiste to wade into that murky dog eat dog world.
There are many that adore Winky D from both sides of the political divide and perhaps it is not ideal to alienate those that do not agree with the political stance he has supposedly adopted. One fan lost is one too many, and whenever artistes seem to hedge their bets with a political party they lose out in the long run.
Artistes have always been social commentators and sometimes when the gods of music demand it, politics falls into their radar. The way they speak of their politics, perhaps, is what matters.
Artistes that have been subtle and less obvious with their political leanings have always been more effective with their messages. One wonders whether adopting political catch phrases of certain political parties is the best way for Winky D, an artiste whose lyrical skill and dexterity has been proven time and again, to express himself.
Throwing in the word jecha just seems a bit too easy, a lunge low hanging fruit that a man of a lesser stature and lyrical ability should have tried to pluck. But despite all that, perhaps that is not the biggest problem with Winky’s KaSong Kejecha.
The problem with the track, like all overt political messages delivered in song, is that the quality of the song itself is not put up for discussion, as it instead plays second fiddle to the political message.
A song is not a political newsletter and the quality of the music must stand on its own pair of feet without leaning on the political message it carries. For the past week, the excitement on social media by those that agreed with the song’s content was about the fact that it spoke to their own political biases. The few voices analysing the song on its own merits were treated with contempt by those that now seemed to believe that the message alone makes the song good.
In a sense, one gets the feeling that this latest version of Winky D is a product of the two-horse race between him and Jah Prayzah. Without a shred of evidence and despite repeated denials on his part, Jah Prayzah has been linked to the ruling party and for a long time those against it many have felt that the country’s opposition needs a musical heavyweight to be a mascot of its own.
Maybe Winky D is finally heeding that call and taking up a mantle that, in the minds of some, pits him at odds once again with the man who is now his only source of competition. How this will benefit him in the long term remains to be seen, or the whole “politics thing” being thrown around because of their songs is just a myth. Only time will tell.