Zimbabwe: Jah Prayzah Bares His Soul

As expected, musician Jah Prayzah's 10th album titled Hokoyo is a long shot at satisfying all who will bother to listen, including those who dislike him.

The high-achieving Uzumba-bred singer, born Mukudzeyi Mukombe, can attest that being considered one of the best in the country over the years is not easy since he has gotten a fair share of it all from love and obsession to outright animosity.

Interestingly, through the 15-track offering, he appears to be making peace with the fact that no matter how hard he tries to impress everyone, it is just impossible and accordingly he has to stick to his lane to move with those who are keen to move with him.

Hokoyo -- loosely translated to "watch out" -- is a carefree expression by JP, a simultaneously structured address to ardent followers and those who detest his rhythmic efforts.

In addition to his genius in putting together classic love songs, the Military Touch Movement boss sings about the effects of hate in his life off stage in addition to a few prayers.

Part of what has formed major hype around the Third Generation band leader's album is whether it is better than that of perceived foe Winky D. The tale of how the two ended up in an imagined lyrical contest may be fuzzy, but definitely impossible to disregard.

Nowadays it is as if it's taboo to talk about one without mentioning the other and it has ceased to be solely about music, but imagined political affiliations.

But, after ditching the "masoja" tagline, camouflage regalia and supposed political inferences, JP's antagonists have not stopped aligning him to national politics and subsequently loathing him for the basket they place him in.

"I have decided not to block vanhu pese pese [people all the time]. Ndazofunga kuti vanovenga vanoda kuchengetwa padhuze varambe vachiona kugona kwaMwari mu life mangu [I think those who hate need to be kept close so they can see God's greatness in my life]," tweeted Jah Prayzah on Friday.

This was a reiteration of the tracks Hokoyo, Asante Sana and Eriya where he either intensely solicits appreciation for his hard work or confronts bullies for the baseless attacks.

Perhaps those who hate him would be sympathetic after finding out that these songs are essentially a call from a tormented soul yearning for a break.

There is also the story of sampling old songs in the new album and this may not be far from the truth given how the beat on Donhodzo sounds like an illicit remake of Sendekera, his 2017 hit featuring Mafikizolo.

Also, the beat on Eriya sounds like a rejigged ZCC Mbungo song. Not to say bootlegging is acceptable, but it would be unfair to judge him harshly because there is nothing new under the sun and after 10 albums one cannot rationally expect him to avoid repeating some things. There is nothing amiss, after all it's a winning formula.

Ultimately, when all is said and done, Jah Prayzah has come of age in the music business and apart from sustaining or expanding his influences, there is nothing else to prove.

In his own words, Hokoyo is a unique effort that he had to break from the tradition of releasing albums annually to put it together in two years.

The is need to accept that it does not get any better than this because Jah Prayzah has churned out hit after hit alone or in collaboration with local and international artistes. So if one was not impressed then, they probably will never be.

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