Music reviewers in Zambia are shallow. You know the common stereotype: “Zambians don’t read.” Here’s another similar one: “Zambians don’t listen.” Im talking music and lyrics. Some of you are probably reading this article with an already prepared response for me or a simple conclusion: “oh looky here, a proud guy speaking.” I didn’t need to gather up courage to say this and you might understand why.

Enough of appetizers let’s get to the main meal already; I see and hear of people giving their personal opinion about music being put out these days. Might I say, just because we have the right to our opinions, in my view, doesn’t mean we have the right to express them. Some of the things we say can hurt people so freely saying “your track is whack” will definitely do damage on different levels and in many cases will prove our shallowness rather than expert knowledge.

Where is all this heading? Here’s the pool I’m drawing all this from: three popular music releases from Lecrae, Trip Lee and Swoope are/were Anomaly, Rise and Sinema respectively. Hip hop heads as we call them spray painted social media with reviews that pointed to the fact that these albums could not achieve or match the content of past and successful music albums by these artists. That right there shows our rivers somewhat only have a shallow end, there is no fish in such rivers…no content…if you missed it. I personally love Swoope’s admission of the pressure to make another great album like ‘Wake Up.’ Yes, we as artists feel that pressure so the least a reviewer can do is try to get in to the creative mind of the artist and see the artistic growth since previous albums. My problem with most reviewers is they are themselves, usually not so creatives. Some have just bones and muscle in this area….no steak. So yes, you are entitled to your own opinion about creativity but there is a universal lower limit or standard of what creative should be. So in the instance a reviewer doesn’t understand poetry, therein he/she will give a shallow review every time.

Now as to the main issue I have with reviewers, especially those that are creative is the failure to get in to the artists shoes and understand the state of his/her heart. We talk so much about how well the production is buuuut…rush to judge the content saying it isn’t as good as the previous single or album. That right there is shallow because what we are seeking is some mental appease. When the pleasure count of the lyrics and rhymes is low we diagnose the music work as whack or below par. Word play is important but the message is even more a vital matter than we think it is. Why do we say music is powerful tool? because the emotion it creates in the listener makes just the right conditions to deposit a message. Shallow minds ignore the message. Oh so Anomay wasn’t as good huh? But in the previous album Lecrae didn’t confess to being molested, he didn’t confess to dropping off his girlfriend at the clinic to undergo an abortion process, how about when Jo-Z Jay made an emotional song don’t we think he’s really communicating his real life somewhere in the lyrics? When Teza sang ‘Made Whole’ and all we said was….yah it’s a good start. Have you heard his personal story behind his song? How about when Olivia sang distortion? Do you know the hurt she was going through in her life?  Because our minds have been conditioned to view music as fake or simply an artist telling a made-up story we tend to think everything an artist says in his lyrics is just ‘created’ or is second-hand information. What if we get in to their minds and connect at a deeper level with their hearts, with their message.  Our perception of music will change.

I’m not just talking to hip hop heads and music reviewers but I’m talking to the everyday listener of music too. When you get a new Abel Chungu song, a new Olivia song, a new Israel song or Carmine song, go a little deeper and see the heart and mind of the artist. Artists will strive to be more creative with beats and word play but always be aware that in the middle of all the art is a heart. In the middle of the heart is a message that weighs even more than the art itself. I hope after reading this, you like me, are challenged to step out of our shallowness.


~ by thenativez on February 4, 2015.

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