Category: Education

Zimbabwean artists, their art and continental awards.

On Saturday, November 29th, African artists with the best music videos were rewarded with awards.

One, and only one Zimbabwean artist, Buffalo Souljah (Thabani Ndlovu) walked away with the Most Gifted in the Dancehall/Ragga Category. This makes him King of African Dancehall. Big up brotherman @BuffaloSouljah1 .

Most artists from the North of Limpopo do not feature that much on the music video channels, as a result they miss out when these awards are handed out.

This begs the question; Why is it most Zimbabwean artists do not feature that much on MtvBase, Channel O and Trace?

One convinient excuse is that MTV and Channel O are a Nigerian and South African affair. It is alleged that South African and Nigerian artists are allocated the lion’s share of airplay on these channels, and the rest of Africa left to share the little time left. I will not dissect this accusation since it needs a bit of research hence a blogpost of its own.

A cursory glance at most Zimbabwean music videos will leave one concluding that the artists should shoulder the blame for being allocated little or no time on these channels. Allow me to highlight a few crimes that our artists commit, that leads to their artistic pieces ending up in the dustbin at Channel O et al.

Most of the music being produced by our artists is of poor quality.The instruments are nor well arranged, the vocals unpolished and the mixing and editing is attrocious. A poor song cannot have a quality video, or should I say a person who produces a poor piece of music cannot miraculously produce a quality video.

Zimbabwean artists need to invest in better cameras. Some of the videos on youtube are grainy and look like they were shot using a VGA cellphone camera. Some are darkish, not enough light on the scene that is being shot.
Such videos do not deserve airplay.

Shooting a video with a quality camera isn’t enough on its own. A quality camera in the hands of an amateur cameraman will not result in a quality video. Besides the camera-work being professional, the video needs to be properly edited. Visuals needs to be added and subtracted from the video to make it interesting. It mustn’t be an ordinary and straight forward video. A good example of a well edited video is Stay Awake by Movip Entertainment.

Quality videos need directors who are creative. It is possible that an artist himself can pen a song and be a director. Such cases are rare, especially in the Zimbabwean context. Most videos that we see are not directed. The artist and friends gather around, sing along while song is played, record clips, stitch them together and post on Youtube or submit to a tv channel. Such behaviour is an insult to the art community, commercial tv stations and consumers of the product. In some instances, the ‘director’ employed is a friend who knows nothing about directing the videos.

A video needs a storyboard. Shooting a video without a storyboard is the same as gropping in the dark. The storyline also has to contexual. We cannot have Hype Williams type of videos comprising of helicopters, jets and Rolls Royce rides cannot surely suit the Zimbabwean context. I also have problems with videos whose storyline is about hijackings and bank robberies, for example, Shingi ft Three Kings video. Where the storyline incorporates such, the acting and effects have to be credible.

Our artists are still a long way from producing quality visuals. For as long as that is the case, they will continue to lose out on the continental and international scene. The 75% favour doesn’t apply when it comes to the international scene.