Zimbabwe: 'Dirty Lyrics Tarnish Local Music'

30 October 2019

Many musicians testify to writing their songs from a point of experience with some being influenced by their day-to-day experiences. They are influenced by love, beauty and greatness as much as they are influenced by ugly faces of hate, violence, war, poverty and hunger. Such is art, a reflection of society. Society breeds artistes, it nurtures them in environments that are then reflected in their lyrics.

However, when vulgar or dirty lyrics dominate local music, listeners begin to question whether this is a true reflection of our society or not. Are we immersed in such social ills that have eroded morality?

In countries like the United States, dirty lyrics are tolerated because of their liberal culture, but local culture is not lenient to those seen as perpetrators of immorality.

Use of dirty lyrics is common in Zimdancehall, but it is also prevalent in other genres like hip-hop and sungura.

The songs with explicit lyrics have been making a lot of noise, attracting wild following especially among the youth. The dirty words spill to the minors who then vomit the same lyrics without fully understanding their meaning.

Some of the musicians guilty of spreading dirty lyrics are Bazooker, Silent Killer, Hwinza, Soul Jah Love and Rascla.

Some minors have even gone on to write their own explicit lyrics which producers, especially those from the famed Chillspot Records go on to record and happily publicise on social media.

"Well, such songs will make noise just for a bit of time then die down. The artiste will go viral, yes, but eventually that same music will kill the artiste especially in Zimbabwe where morals are high," said celebrated music producer Joe Machingura.

To support his claim, he gave examples of musicians like Boom Beto, who became a one-hit wonder having risen to limelight with explicit and sexually provocative lyrics.

On the sungura terrain, Jacob Moyana made a name because of dirty lyrics, but he did not last the distance because he portrayed himself as an immoral singer.

Germany-based creative entrepreneur Plot Mhako said explicit music may not necessarily reflect on society but may end up spreading immorality in society.

"The amount of vulgar, sexual and explicit lyrics finding its way into most of the new music being produced is extremely worrisome.

"The content is inappropriate, offensive and demeaning. It goes against our norms, values and culture that embraces respect and the spirit of ubuntu," he said.

"Whilst artistes have the liberty to use their creativity to compose, there is a need for one to consider the social effects and also their own growth as dirty lyrics, whilst they can easily create a frenzy, can kill promising careers."

A self-confessed Zimdancehall fan, Hazvinei Kembo (33), said vulgar musicians are tarnishing the genre and urged producers to guide them.

"Producers should guide the vulgar musicians so that they record meaningful music and desist from dirty lyrics tarnishing the genre," she said.

Another Zimdancehall fan, Lloyd Mkosa (52), said there was nothing wrong with listening to dirty lyrics.

"I sometimes play that music especially Jah Signal's 'Kupinda Mubako' and I sometimes sing along to it," he said.

"I don't have any problems with the dirty lyrics. Anyone who doesn't like them should just not listen to them. The music reflects on the current generation; sometimes my grandchildren even sing with me those songs, which I think is ok."

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