Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
A YEAR after it was formed, those that greeted the birth of Jah Prayzah’s Military Touch Movement with jubilation may now be questioning whether their excitement was perhaps premature, given the glaring problems affecting the label despite the Kutonga Kwaro hit maker’s own success.
When the identities of the artistes that would make up this new music juggernaut were revealed, many expected what looked like a well oiled, mean music making machine to start firing on all cylinders from the first day.
The immaculate photo shoots seemed to suggest that Military Touch Movement was the breath of fresh air, set to blow in new winds of change in an industry that sometimes feels like it is stuck in its old ways.
Here was a young and vibrant movement ready to take Zimbabwean music to the next level, many would have thought. The artiste roaster itself was mouth-watering to any listener with properly functioning ears. At first glance, there seemed to be everything for everyone.
For the contemporary music lover, Jah Prayzah and Andy Muridzo had all bases covered, while those whose ears craved something more urban could depend on smooth talking veteran lyricist Ex-Q and the dancehall dynamo Nutty-O.
It seemed an altogether tantalising melting pot, which was spiced up further by the presence of songbird Tahle WeDzinza. On paper, at least, it seemed that nothing could go wrong.
On the eve of its one-year anniversary however, some might have questions about the stewardship of Prayzah who, as the captain of a ship that is staffed by the Galácticos of the Zimbabwean music scene, has a lot to answer to.
One artiste who seems to have suffered the most is Andy Muridzo, a man who was previously seen a potential challenger and possible successor to Jah Prayzah.
For the most part, 2017 was a wasted year for Muridzo, whose name made the headlines mostly for his messy fallout with raunchy dancer Bev.
When an artiste makes the headlines for what he does in the bedroom instead of what he produces in the studio, something is clearly wrong. Things just did not fall in place for Muridzo and the video of him getting chased and pelted by school children after arriving late for a show just summarised the kind of year that he had.
In a way, his poor run last year seemed to justify the concerns of those that felt like it was not a wise move for him to sign with Jah Prayzah, a man who for all intents and purposes, was regarded as his main rival.
As predicted, he spent most of 2017 under Jah Prayzah’s shadow, only escaping briefly from it when his bedroom exploits with Bev hit the headlines. Some attributed Muridzo’s tame year to a lack of exposure and marketing, which was due to the fact that Military Touch dedicated too much time to Jah Prayzah.
“People should know that we’re doing all we can to try and split the Military Touch Movement brand and the Jeetaz (Muridzo’s) Band’s brand. I can promise that we are working on it,” Muridzo’s manager Gift Petro said when he was asked why his charge had not received the same amount of exposure as the boss.
This is a fact that Muridzo himself acknowledged during an interview on Star FM.
“I agree that the same way Jah Prayzah is being marketed should be the same way we market ExQ, Tahle and Nutty O. I must say it’s my hope that one day it’ll get there,” admitted a jittery Muridzo.
With Jah Prayzah’s career reaching new heights, the artistes signed under Military Touch find themselves facing an age old dilemma: trying to prosper while sheltered under the wing of a high flying artiste who also needs to spend considerable time on his own career.
Internationally, artistes under musicians like Jay-Z have complained of neglect as their boss spends a lot of time trying to better his own career. This is perhaps reflected the most on the treatment of Ex-Q, an artiste who had an amazing, hit-laden run in 2017.
At first glance, all was well with Ex-Q in 2017. His Killer T assisted track, Nhema, emerged as one of the songs of the year, dominating playlists and charts for months.
However, it is telling that despite the fact that the song has 1,2 million views on YouTube it still does not have a video. Six months after the audio was released, it bizarrely still does not have any visuals to accompany it. In the meantime, Jah Prayzah himself has countless videos since that song was uploaded in July last year. Such glaring inconsistencies give further ammunition to those that want to put Prayzah in front of the firing squad for shortchanging his own artistes.
As of now, it seems the Military Touch Movement management either dropped the ball or is indeed putting all their eggs in one basket by piling all resources on Jah Prayzah.
Even the release of Tahle’s video this week did not escape the scathing tongues of prophets that claim to have foreseen Military Touch’s doom. Despite the added publicity that featuring Jah Prayzah obviously brings, some felt that he stole her shine somewhat, with his vocals drowning those of the young songbird.
While the jury is still out on the success or failure of the giant called Military Touch Movement, it remains to be seen, as the movement celebrates its one-year anniversary, whether all of its talented cast will get a chance to shine in 2018.