THE PROBLEMS WITH RAPPERS IN ZIMBABWE | So after attending the first #ZimHipHopSummit I have some thoughts. Firstly much respect to Plot Mhako, Darryl Nyamz and Amanda Murimba for putting it together and bringing the Zim scene together in one place for dialogue.
However my issues are with the quality of the dialogue had at the event. Though there were a few gems shared that I hope artists will take to heart and use going forward – none of these were actually new.
For years notable voices in the industry have been telling Zimbabwean artists to stop denying their heritage and sound while rushing to replicate the sounds of American artists. The argument that artists should stop relying heavily on radio and instead focus on nurturing their own fan bases via direct channels such as social media has been repeated several times.
So why or how is it possible that whenever that information was shared you couldn’t apply it but when Slikour says it you applaud from the rafters like he’s giving you new information?
Why are artists still complaining about radio play when Tehn Diamond had built an email newsletter audience, a blog following and a whatsapp mailing list even before Happy got put on heavy rotation? Why are rappers complaining about radio when Cal_Vin managed to build enough groundswell support in Bulawayo to get a video sponsorship that forced radio to take notice?
Why is it artists haven’t realised that Jnr Brown can literally walk away from the game for years at a time and step back in to reclaim his seat at the top simply because nobody has been able to challenge him. It’s because nobody can replicate his style, his voice and how his lyrics connect with the fans.
On the night before the summit Danis Danny Dube and I were hosting Shoko Festival’s Hip Hop night. We witnessed a popular Zimbabwean rapper arrive 30 minutes late with a 8 man entourage who were all drunk and possibly high. They were unprepared and it took them another 15 minutes to get their act together. Predictably the performance fell flat and it was cut short.
That incident is symptomatic of the larger issue. Rappers want to be rappers but don’t really want to be rappers. How do we take you seriously when you approach your JOB in this fashion?
This leaks into other avenues. How seriously are rappers approaching their marketing, their distribution, their budgeting? How are you building your brands image? Making music and expecting the unreached masses is not enough.
So before anything artists in this country should fix their priorities.
The issue doesn’t solely lie with rappers. I also heard other notable industry members defend their positions by quoting false facts while others made blanket statements about artists using broad terms without explaining their significance. While others castigated artists for not being “registered”.
Registered to what and why was not explained. Such statements are just as damaging as doing nothing. Why are artists signing up to these bodies? What do they lose or gain from doing so? None of this was explained.
I certainly don’t have all the answers but what I do know is that until everyone gets their heads out of their asses nothing will change.