6 August 2017

Africa: Jah Prayzah Takes Africa By Storm

Photo: The Herald
Jah Prayzah
interview

A new era of musicians is permeating the African music scene and flowing with this great tide is Zimbabwean contemporary musician Jah Prayzah who seems destined to conquer the world.

Seemingly, in the twilight stages of their careers, the continent's old crop of fine music makers consisting of the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Hugh Masekela and Salif Keita ran the show and earned respect from virtually all parts of the continent and abroad.

But unlike the old horses, Jah Prayzah's breed is armed with digital age advancements to market their works faster and wider, good quality videos and extensive collaboration opportunities.

Fighting for his position in a space ruled by West, East and South Africa, the Uzumba-born vocalist is making strides through collaborations.

However, with all the bliss, every day marks a new twist in the dreadlocked musician's life as he evades negative publicity for every move he makes, although the remaining fact is he is in a better place.

In a career stretching over a decade, he has amassed considerable riches and earned respect both in and out of the country.

This in addition to international shows in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and China, there are a few things he has not done.

Last week, The Standard Style's Kennedy Nyavaya (KN) caught up with the MTV African Music Award (Mama) 2016 -- Listener's Choice Award winner (JP) who is US-bound to find out his future prospects and a bit on the upcoming album.

KN: You are at a place where many musicians in the country can only wish to be, how do you feel about such achievements at this point?

JP: It's amazing because looking at where I came from and where I am sometimes I would not have dreamt, that I might get there. What I used to do, however, is pray to get to where I am, but still I want to surpass where I am, although at the same time I appreciate the point where God has made me reach.

KN: Now that you have brought it up, what are you aiming for ultimately and at what point did you start dreaming bigger and thinking that you could actually surpass local achievements?

JP: Since the time I did the song titled Hello, I changed the sound a bit from the usual Jah Prayzah music synonymous with songs like Kumbumura Mhute. My main motive this year is to spread my music to every corner of Africa. To become an international artist is every musician's wish and for now, I want to make sure that I try everything it takes to take my music everywhere.

KN: What made you change your music sound and your social life as a result of the milestones?

JP: On the first one, there isn't anything much that has changed on me, but maybe sometimes the sound that cuts across all markets in Africa, then there is sound that Zimbabweans love. So, I am trying to cater for both markets. In terms of my lifestyle, ndini uya uya; I will not change I will always live the same way.

KN: With you travelling up and down, how does your family deal with the idea of you not always being around?

JP: I do not have a choice and I told my family and parents that I am an artist and I was born for the people, that is what I believe. They do not get my attention here and there because I will be out of the country although it is part of the hassles, it brings food on the table at the end of the day. But, it's not easy for you to spend a long time out of the country, but whenever I get the chance, I try by all means to be with my family.

KN: Of late, you have managed to release some songs with good videos which are impressive on the African front, but there is a fan base which particularly appreciates your old songs more. Are you going to continue feeding that market or have you transcended into a more African artist with less attention on Zimbabwe?

JP: I believe that for people to know me outside, it came from Zimbabweans because they are the ones who started loving my music. So, I am supposed to put 70% to what impresses Zimbabweans because there are loyal fans who have always listened to my old music and I am adding new music to what is already there. So, I am not going to change, especially on the upcoming album I am working on. I am sure 70% of the songs are super Zimbabwean sound.

KN: You have just brought in an issue where I was headed to, the new album, because usually by now we should have heard some official communication on it. So, when is it coming and tell us more on the messages to expect?

JP: The album is called Kutonga Kwaro and it will consist of 10 or 12 songs, I am still deciding, but it will be launched on October 13, so I will introduce both the title and the launch date maybe when I go for the US tour. We have a serious social media campaign to promote the album and we are about to start.

KN: Can you explain to us a bit further on what the title means?

JP: That is where the whole idea of the launch is, so we will disclose on the launch day.

KN: Take us into the launch. Is it going to be similar to the past launches where it will be in concert format with people gathering at Harare International Conference Centre (HICC)?

JP: We are still deciding on that. For now, we are only introducing the album title and date because we are still deciding whether or not to take it to the HICC or somewhere else.

KN: You have just turned 30 years old and you have lots of experience in the industry. With what you have achieved, what could be your advice to the younger generation?

JP: It is mainly on the issue of sound, it contributes a lot because imagine if I had sent Davido Kumbumura Mhute, he might not have been able to blend in. The other thing is most still have fear of thinking they have levels they have not reached but there are foreign musicians who love Zimbabwe and performing for locals, so it is a sign that there is a chance for us. Some musicians think they may not get to such levels but it is very possible.

KN: Going forward, what other collaborations can we look forward to from you and at one point you were with Jason Derulo, what happened?

JP: Yes, it [song with Derulo] is coming out very soon, maybe if everything goes well it will be out in September, but the song is dope bra. It's something else.

KN: Is there more we can expect and what criteria do you use when choosing someone to collaborate with?

JP: When it comes to music, there should be that chemistry so that both parties feel it before they do anything, that if we combine our works we could come up with something good. We do not just collaborate for the sake of it. There are some popular artists, but you feel it could be hard for me to fuse with them, so that is how I work.

KN: Perhaps to inspire other musicians, what are the benefits of getting to where you are now? Any major highlights of your career?

JP: I think the most important thing I have benefitted and I have always wished for since long back is getting to a level that I do not need to introduce myself to everyone, especially those artists I would want to work with. They now know me and it makes my life easier when you get to that level because you do not need to explain yourself anymore.

You do not need to move around with a CV because your works have done so for you. We managed to have our own studios and offices, this makes us get enough time in the studio. So, those are some of the achievements I value so much.

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