Chitubu: All hype, no substance

AGGRESSIVE marketing and goodwill — not brilliance of art, have been pushing Jah Prayzah, aka JP’s recent productions.

Apparently, the JP of old remains dead and buried. The musician’s roots have completely dried.

Foreign influence continues to sink its claws deeper into the Uzumba-born and bred artiste, compromising the vibrancy and identity of his music.

It gets scary.

The “Kumbumura Mhute” singer is failing to realise that his squall is no longer sturdy.

Yet the massive hype and zeal that has often preceded JP’s album launches was not in the air this time around.

On November 2, the HICC was filled up sorely because people continue to hope for another “Jerusarema” type of product.

Prior to the event, JP’s camp played the “vintage Jah Prayzah reincarnated” card. What a fetid lie!

The 13-track album and JP’s ninth studio project suggests otherwise.

Clearly, “Chitubu” is a rushed or rather, half-baked project. Probably this explains why it is struggling to penetrate the market. If this was Jah Prayzah’s debut effort, it was never going to earn him recognition.

“Chitubu” has been rated by the singer’s loyalists as an average production. For now it is being carried by the weight of his brand — nothing else. The album, which is an extension of JP’s unending music experiments, lacks the sting traceable in projects like “Jerusarema” (2015) or “Mdhara Vachauya” (2016).

While “Chitubu” might be easy on the ear, the project on the whole is hollow.

His last offering, “Kutonga Kwaro”, only got a breath of life a month after its release courtesy of Operation Restore Legacy.

Tracks like “Kutonga Kwaro”, “Ndin’ Ndamubata” and “Masoja” became theme songs for the operation.

It appears the “Tsotsi” singer is in need of yet another miracle to save the latest offering from drowning.

Following the release of “Chitubu”, his legion of followers is begging for time.

“…give Jah Prayzah’s album a chance, it will gain momentum later, just like was the case with ‘Kutonga Kwaro’, said a die-hard JP fan last week on YouTube.

But if truth be told, this latest experiment by JP is flat!

“Chitubu” has no single track with the capacity to dislodge hit of the moment “The Reason Why” aka “Hat Dzemurara” by Baba Harare or even Enzo Ishall’s “Kanjiva”.

Jah Prayzah’s peak was arguably the release of “Jerusarema” and most of his productions after that have left a lot to be desired. His art now lacks refinement.

Perhaps the lanky crooner needs to be reminded that releasing an album every year is not a must.

The dismal performance on the local market of his single “Ronika” after its release in July this year should have served as a warning to the singer.

But again, this is JP. He remains as stubborn as ever. “I’m still far from reaching my zenith. Besides I’m going to make sure I release everything I have when I still have the opportunity and at my peak. Who knows, maybe one day I will wake up fallen from grace, pava nemumwe Jah (replaced by another Jah), what will happen to my unreleased compositions,” queried the singer five years ago at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.

But Jah Prayzah’s composing prowess and ingenuity seem to have gone into a coma. A number of tracks support this sentiment, including “Dzamutsana”, which is a carbon copy of “Pikoko” off the album “Kutonga Kwaro”.

On “Dangerous”, vocal intonation and tempo are inspired by “Eriza”, one of the many hits on the album “Jerusarema”.

As if that is not enough, the singer’s muse dies along the way as he starts making senseless rhymes in addition to repeating the tired “Tamuka achigadzira” chant.

The situation moves to another level.

JP self-plagiarises a chorus from “Kumagumo”, the eighth track on “Kumbumura Mhute” (2014) on “Tauchira”, which sings, “Ndiani angavhumbamire pwere, vamwe havabvume kunze kune mhute.”

While there is no harm in an artiste doing so, this more or less renders “Chitubu” a remix effort of sorts. For instance, “Kune Rima” sounds like a medium-paced version of the singer’s flop single “Angelo”, featuring Jamaican star Jah Cure.

Equally, it is a bit difficult to distinguish the variance of creativity between “Kune Rima” and “Kide”.

Tracks that attempt to deliver a vintage Jah Prayzah touch are “Sarai”, “Chitubu”, “Hakata” and “Tauchira”. In the compositions, the singer applies effort to retrace his roots but still, foreign influence takes control through computer generated instruments that in turn erode the authenticity of the traditional timbre.

Other tracks that make up “Chitubu” include “Follow Me”, featuring Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie better known as Patoranking, “Special Somebody”, “Chigunduru”, “Kumahumbwe” and “Chikomo”.

Tsviriyo (2013), “Ngwarira Kuparara”, (2012) “Sungano Yerudo” (2010) and “Rudo Nerunyararo” (2007) are JP’s other albums.