|Stylistic origins||Jamaican Reggae|
|Cultural origins||Zimbabwe Ghetto|
Zimdancehall, is a Zimbabwean music genre with roots in the Jamaican tradition of reggae. The genre is known for its hard-hitting lyrics which often encompass social commentary on issues like poverty, unemployment and drug abuse.
The genre now called Zimdancehall can be traced to Reggae music popular in the Jamaican music circles. Bob Marley and fellow Jamaican artistes became the foundation of Zimdancehall with its style borrowing a lot from Jamaican reggae and ragga genres.
The Development of Zimdancehall
The music now known as Zimdancehall was started in the late 80's with the rising up of local Zimbabwean sound systems like A1 Sound, Startime sound which exposed artists like Culture T, Allan Ranks, and Dudz who would perform on riddims mostly imitating popular Jamaican reggae artists. In the 90s as dancehall became more popular globally Tiger, Shabba Supercat, Ninja and Papa San, a new crop of MCs began to emerge in Zimbabwe with the likes of Major E, Rassie Ai, Booker T, Smylie, Potato, Yappie Banton, Daddy Distress, Kuda Culture (brother to Culture T) rising. Startime Supa Power were the first sound system to push most of these artists to record their songs, starting first with dub plates the most popular being Sounds of the 90s by Major E & Booker T on Hypocrite Riddim instrumental side of Daddy Freddie & Micheal Prophet song with the same title and Rassie Ai ft Booker T 'Svinurai/Vanofarira Startime' on the Pepperseed Riddim.
The popularity of these recordings led to more studio recordings with Major E & Booker T releasing a 7" vinyl single of Sound of the 90s, Yappie Banton releasing 'Memories' and 'Water ina mi room'. The biggest achievement was by Culture T with the band Transit Crew releasing mainstream albums and touring Europe. By the end of the 90s, a number of local youths were recording singles and albums independently and reggae bands like Cruxial Mix (Trevor Hall) & Black Roots holding regular weekly shows to showcase various artists like Potato, Daddy Ray, Ijah son, Jnr Banton, Slaggy Yout, Bobo Markos, Desert Eagle, Sanchez and more.
Around this time Major E and Malvin Sithole also scored successes with various collaborations with Innocent Utsiwegota with whom they created hits like "In My Dreams". Potato also featured mainstream artist, Andy Brown's The genre was however still considered a copycat of Jamaican culture and way of life so it was never taken seriously and recording studios shunned because of apparently not appealing to mainstream Zimbabweans who loved genres such as Sungura.
In the early 00's, as home computers became affordable, there was an emergence of independent studios. This resulted in the arrival of Urban Grooves around 2001, which opened the doors for many artists with the release of many various artists albums like the Delani Makhalima produced The Future, Chamhembe,Chigutiro. This new era saw Zimdancehall artists like Trinta and Sniper Storm emerge. Sniper Storm went on to release the album Ndakabata Mic in 2004, a hardcore dancehall album. What really separated this album from its predecessors was the fact that all its lyrics were in Shona and not English/Patios which proved very popular with the people creating a new direction for the genre.
In 2005 Winky D, King Labash, Badman represented a new crop of artistes who took the genre to the mainstream level with hits like "kukonzeresa" by King Labash and "chaputika" by Winky D. Winky D would become one of the most decorated artist in the genre over the next decade. He released hit track after track under the label Black Lab Records who were probably the first dancehall influenced label in Zimbabwe. The genre was however referred to as Urban Grooves or just Dancehall.
A UK based artists Slaggy Yout is credited with coining the name Zimdancehall he created one of the the first website dedicated to promoting the genre. Promoters like Godfatha Templeman, Simmad and Silverstone Sound were now arranging shows in Harare's Ghettos.
In the late 00s most people began to notice these artistes and they also developed a considerably large following. With the rise of other artistes like Killer T, Soul Jah Love, Freeman, Shinsoman, Zimdancehall became a force to reckon with in the Zimbabwean music circles with the majority of its artistes like the aforementioned becoming household names. Several songs like "mawaya waya" by Shinso, "tirikumhanya" by Killer T, "musarova bigman" by Winky D became instant sing alongs and established the Zimdancehall genre among other local genres like sungura. The artistes even rose to international prominence with the likes of Lady Squanda, Freeman among others holding shows in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia.
Answer to unemployment
Considering the high levels of unemployment, this music genre is said to offer a chance of generating income to the urban youth who often fall victim to social ills like drug abuse, prostitution and violent crime. Not only does it offer an outlet for the artistes themselves but to the many backyard studio owners whose enterprises have sprouted in and around many ghettos in Zimbabwe and are estimated to be numbering about 600 in total. Notwithstanding the financial returns that are realised by the stakeholders in the industry, Zimdancehall has also been credited for raising awareness on everyday issues that affect society like the maladministration of local government. The song by Spiderman castigates the city council for causing water borne diseases while another one by Jiggaz laments the economic hardships in the country by stating that money is never enough for the ordinary man.
Zimdancehall music downloads
Zimdancehall music artists are known to be very generous making their music available for download on the internet through such platforms as Reverbnation, Jukebox (Jukeboxx), Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp in various formats but mostly in .mp3. Their business model is based on them freely distributing their music, while they make money from hosting gigs/shows/sconcerts.
Places to Download Zimdancehall Music
- Zimdancehall Songs On The Hit
- Punchline Entertainment
- Zimdancehall Android App
There has been a considerable amount of criticism that has been levelled against Zimdancehall. Much of the critics of the genre have spoken against the violence which often tarnished the reputation of the artists and the genre alike. There have also been calls by senior citizens that some of the lyrical content in the songs tends to praise drug abuse, praise of violence among other immoral activities. Prominent music promoters such as Josh Hozheri have even gone as far as saying that the genre was a temporary wave which would eventually die out just like what happened to Urban Grooves.
Popular Zimdancehall Artists
Popular Riddim Producers
- Chill Spot Records
- Arnold "Fantan" Kamudyariwa
- Rodger "Levelz" Kadzimwe
- Samson "Sam Chris" Gwanzura
- Tafadzwa "Rhiphe" Mandaza
- Legendary Musiq Unruly
- Jeeperz Mad Producer (JMP)
- Top Shatta Records
- Mount Zion Records
- Malon T
Notwithstanding all the positive aspects of Zimdancehall, there have been many instances in which the artistes hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The wrong reasons span from lyrical content which glorifies drug abuse, violence and sexual immorality. Inevitably this has an impact on the impressionable minds of the urban youth who form the bulk of the Zimdancehall audience. This follows other arguments which note that Zimdancehall is a culture that impacts on dressing and body language which stimulates the audience to do as the artistes do in their videos. This includes videos like "ndinongosimudza musoro" released by Soul Jah Love which has both sexually explicit lyrics and video content. The inaugural Zimdancehall Awardsin 2014 were marred by violent and rowdy behavior from artists and fans alike.
Some Zimdancehall Popular Videos
- Templeman, Zimdancehall Overdrive: The journey The Sunday Mail, Published: June 22, 2014, Retrieved: June 26, 2014
- ,Problem Masau, ‘Dancehall is the future of Zim music’ The Herald, Published: October 31, 2013, Retrieved June 26, 2014
- Ruzvidzo Mandizha, Dancehall obscenity divides opinion, The Zimbabwean, Published: January 1, 2014, Retrieved: June 26, 2014
- Problem Masau Is Zimdancehall losing lustre?, News Day, Published: April 9, 2015, Retrieved: May 27, 2015
- , Violence erupts as Winky D bags four DanceHall awards iHarare, Published: March 17, 2014, Retrieved: June 26, 2014