Is Baba Harare the ‘messiah’ of Jiti music?

Baba Harare left Jah Prayzah's band to pursue a solo career, will he conquer the jungle as a solo?

By Peter Tinashe Kaviya

For many artistes, the decision to pursue a solo career is one difficult call, a handful have tried and few have survived.

Success stories like that of Alick Macheso who broke out of Khiama Boys to form the now trailblazing Orchestra Mberikwazvo are few.

For many trialists, the reality has been dreaded and a sobering experience , one they wish to forgeT.

Names that easily come to mind are  Francis ‘Slomo’ Daka and his band of so called ‘rebels’ named Extra Kwazvose.

The group suffered a stunted growth, they assumed that since they were part of the great Alick Macheso’s band  they were going to attain instant stardom.

Unfortunately for them, greatness is not infectious!

When Bravemen ‘Baba Harare’ Chizvino announced that he was parting ways with Jah Prayzah, the move seemed as suicid and many a critic wrote him off and wrote his musica obituary.

Brave as his name suggests, remained adamant and he took his leap of faith with a lot expected from him, thus far the journey has been one of numerous ups and downs.

The court of public opinion could have forgiven Baba Harare on his almost non-event virgin offering titled Chikwama Changu.

He was still navigating the murky waters but it was the second offering, Minamato Yaratsa that seemed to win the hearts of many with sing alongs like the Coca Cola 2018 chat winning The Reason Why and Guzuzu.

Baba Harare is back with another album, Ramba Wakadzvanya but he is on the fence, seemingly pregnant and eager to experiment with sounds and ideas, unfortunately creating a cocktail of an album that fails to  inspire confidence in the artist.

On the album, Baba Harare exhibited traits of brilliance especially  on the lead guitar and arrangement of instruments, but seems to generally lack when it comes to the substance of his lyrics- a trait that is so evident on all his albums thus far.

His lyrical content is still shallow but should he engage a songwriter with depth- he is bound to reach the musical Canaan.

Substance of lyrics is an important to any musical project, it is the reason we still listen to Simon Chimbetu, Leonard Dembo, Leonard Zhakata and the recently departed national hero, Dr Oliver Mtukudzi.

Let’s face it, Baba Harare’s The Reason Why is just  but one song whose lyrics are mostly patches of bits and pieces of old folk songs.

The artiste takes the same stance on his new album with the title track Ramba Wakadzvanya, also laden with patches of old folk songs, most that made cold nights at funerals bearable.

Songs like Nhonga Nyama and Kamunakiro seemed rushed and one can be lost in the song.

He seems to be struggling with rhymes taking listeners from ‘zvidhori’ to ‘mabori’ all in the name of completing a song.

Granted , artistes  have ‘poetic licence’ and  different ways of putting across messages as the creative process differs, but some of the lines on the album sound like songs we used to sing whilst cheering our village football teams back in the day.

Baba Harare also seems to be obsessed with vulgar undertones in his music as evidenced on the track Bhinzi and Mafuta, a trait also seen on The Reason Why and Guzuzu.

Baba Harare’s latest offering shows glimpses of brilliance as well as exposing the artiste’s lack of depth and identity crisis.

The artiste seems to be popular in the musical circles, the biggest question remains if he is living on borrowed fame or it’s just a tide that will soon pass.

It seems the unique sound of jiti is after all Baba Harare’s bailout, without that sound would The Reason Why be that much of a hit?

We all love jiti for that nostalgia feeling it gives us about our roots.

The artist lyrical bankruptcy can be forgiven when it comes to jit, after all we danced to Mr Bulk’s Mujinga Regomo and Kapfupi’s Chikwama Chababa.

Baba Harare has the ability to make music that will last for eternity, his glimpses of brilliance can be seen on Maine Gule and the acapella track Mhoro Babie.

Vulgar undertones will give one fame but the longevity of such music is doubtful and music fans are quick to forget such songs as well as the artiste – remember Callisto Nyamhute of the Special Meat fame and Jacob Moyana of the Munotidako hit.

Baba Harare must strive not to be a statistic in those that failed in solo careers and if he wishes to be mentioned in the same success stories like that of Macheso, then he should add more substance to his lyrics and tone down his vulgar lyrics.

As sweet as bubble gums are, they are spat out quickly and the same goes for ‘bubblegum’ music.