Some say its rubbish and it won’t get anywhere, others say it’s the new thing and the future, but judging by the recent events in it has urban grooves music reached the point of appreciation from the renowned musicians.
Zimbabwe will one day stand up and applaud the fathers of the true Zimbabwean music.
It is not long ago that the older and more experienced musicians where the ones at the forefront of scoffing at the urban grooves campaign that saw most of the young artists being castigated for their different ways of making new contemporary music.
Oliver Mtukudzi was one of them and he always castigated the way the music of these youngsters was being done. Veteran Thomas Mapfumo has also been known to echo the same sentiments about this new genre of music. But in an about turn Mtukudzi has recorded a song with urban groover XQ whilst last year Macheso did the same with Mudiwa. Can this be the point of realisation and appreciation of urban grooves music from the seasoned musicians?
Looking back at the beginning of the music industry in Zimbabwe, one can only applause the distance which these young musicians have come so far. The biggest criticisms being that they were performing with soundtrack CD’s and were perceived as not being serious about music. To the renowned artists this one man show type of music meant no creativity at all. Even the audiences used to scoff at seeing an urban groover alone on stage with just a sound track in the back and lip singing. To a certain extend this criticism helped in sprucing up the act of these young artist as most are now turning to live instruments and even if they play backtracks, they now have dancers to entertain their audiences.
Listening to the latest XQ album one gets to appreciate the depth of the urban groove artist who has come of age but it is only after listening to the song Pane Rudo that a familiar voice of Mtukudzi assures you that truly the young man has come of age. Now that older artists are teaming up with these young artists a point of appreciation has now been realised and finally heaven’s doors seem to have opened for urban grooves.
We asked the artists what really is urban music is and the answer was one that was delivered with astute confidence by Stunner. “This is a new type of music mostly spearheaded by youngsters in urban centers hence the name urban grooves.” He went on to say that this is today’s music, here to stay and going to be music for tomorrow. “Off course our elders in the music industry always try to do us down but the real factor is that our music is here to stay. Can you imagine Museve making it in the few years to come,” echoed Leonard Mapfumo another urban groover. He went on to say that this was not only in Zimbabwe but also in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia where this music is called Urban Mondo.
As stated by the website wikipedia.org this genre of music in Zimbabwe “closely resembles American Rap, Hip Hop, RnB, Soul and other international music genres.” The site goes on to say that this “imitation” of the West has resulted in Urban Grooves being unpopular with older listeners and artists who accuse the younger generation of shunning their cultural music and identity. Mapfumo had this to say again, “We grew being made to listen to guys like Lionel Ritchie, Dolly parton and all those American and European artists by our parents. Later on we chose to have our own taste in music and hence we started liking urban American music because we had been exposed to such foreign music from young age. Now that we are doing it using local languages people see it wrong. Urban grooves is here to stay.”
Talking to another urban groover, Mudiwa, who recorded with Macheso last year he said its also a marvel for the youngsters to be able to record with big and established artists. “My titles on my songs are all inspired by Macheso. I take his Shona titles for his albums and songs and I put them into English with his full support,” he said. He went on to say that this means that urban music is now growing interest from adults. “On my new album Macheso is going to be there as well. In actual fact he is my mentor,” said Mudiwa.
Tendai Chidarikire popularly as Sasamania says that it is unfair to box up these musicians and call them strictly urban groovers as this tends to make their music autonomous. “The moment you box an artist and label them a Museve artist or urban groover then there is no room for diversity. Look at R Kelly. He can sing in almost all genres be it R&B, soul or hip-hop said Chidarikire. “Some of us have been boxed for sure but then there are same of us who opt to go out of the box and then come back” said Stunner
Has urban grooves music now reached Heaven’s doors? Has it finally now achieved the so much needed recognition synonymous to the genres like Sungura, Contemporary and Ethnic in Zimbabwe? The answer lies only in the appreciation this music is going to get from the listeners as well as its appreciation from seasoned musicians.