This year might be the worst that musician Jah Prayzah has had to endure since the jolly good melodies of Tsviriyo that saw him break into outright stardom in 2013.
Since the beginning of year, the award-winning musician has survived an immense “Mute Jah Prayzah” campaign, had to rebrand from his favourite camouflage dressing and even watched helplessly as the video of Kune Rima got overshadowed by Winky D’s MuGarden, in what signals a waning influence.
Traditionally by this time of the year, his troop of die-hard fans would be waiting for another album and possibly a feature with a foreign artiste as he has done consecutively since 2016.
However, in the past week he told a local tabloid that he would not be releasing his 10th album this year because “I want it to be something unique”.
Sincere as it might seem, the reason has traces of deceit. Jah Prayzah who last year, through the release of Chitubu, claimed to be an oasis of musical genius, suddenly needs a gap of a year to create something unique? Sheer lies!
This then raises dust over the real reasons that might have prompted the Uzumba-born musician to break from the yearly tradition he has religiously followed.
His publicist/manager Keen Mushapaidze could not be reached for comment on Friday, but a source told Standard Style that there were many factors at play which prompted the musician to launch an album.
“First, his fan base is dwindling and he is not pulling crowds at shows. Secondly, the economy is affecting the arts sector, including him. Holding those big launches in a such an economy would be suicidal,” said the source.
Lately, the Kutonga Kwaro singer’s appeal has significantly dropped. He has tried to salvage his influence by shooting videos in rural areas, became more active on social media and even shot the Dangerous video starring his son, but all that has fallen on a largely unreceptive audience.
JP may be tasting the bitter fruits of apparent ties with the government, which is unpopular in urban areas, in addition to being Zimbabwe National Army ambassador at a time the military’s image was soiled by the bloody response to the August 2018 and January protests that left people dead.
Clearly thorough convincing is needed for some who have vowed not to listen to his music again to consider giving him an ear.
Last week the musician released a single titled Sadza Nemuriwo, which has divided opinion among music followers in the country, with some describing it as luke warm considering Jah Prayzah’s previous projects.
Last month Zimbabwean women came out guns blazing following the release of his track titled Fambai Nebhora, a dedication to the senior national soccer team, which they felt was “offensive and irresponsible” because it was “degrading and sexist” towards women.
A music critic who spoke on conditions of anonymity said the economy has diminished the buying power of many people, including artistes and their fans.
“Funding is low and pockets of benefactors who bid highly to buy the first CDs may be drying up as they have proven not to be friendly enough to sponsor showbiz of late,” said the critic.
JP and his team are at a musical crossroads where they are grappling with rebranding his image and convincing people that he is just a musician and not a praise singer for those in power.
How this will end is uncertain at the moment, but for now not all is well for the Mudhara Achauya singer.
— The Standard