So this is what the fuss around Zahara is all about


Now that the noise around Zahara is finally somewhat subsiding I finally got the chance to listen to her music and appreciate it for its artistic merit and not the hype. As I stated on Friday that I am dedicating my entire weekend to local music, Loliwe has been playing non-stop in my crib and dare I say it, I have been bitten.

There is no denying that Zahara the person is just a sweetheart. She is (in my opinion) a true embodiment of a well brought up girl who is now living her dream but hasn't allowed the fame to get to her head. Unlike some people I know that shall remain nameless for now. This is a girl who still refers to people older than her as buti or sisi as a sign of respect. In Jozi nogal ...

In this industry that is fueled by pretentiousness, I find her very refreshing. Her humility and sheer authenticity makes her a gem that ought to be protected and cherished for generations to come. This could be a legend in the making.

Oh how it would help if all our celebs knew how endearing a quality humility is. BUT I digress ... ((sigh))

Anyway, moving on to the music. I have always been one of those people that do not follow trends or go with the hype all the time. On the contrary that actually puts me off of certain things that later in life I  surprisingly find very interesting. 

So too was my case with this new girl called Zahara. You would have to be living under rock for you not to have been aware of the Zahara-mania that swept Mzansi in recent months. The hype was in no place more evident than on Facebook.

Oh lawd!! Imagine having 4000 friends and 80% of their posts are about one subject everyday.

That was my online life for the duration of Zahara-mania. Naturally, I grew irritated with anything Zahara. The mere mention of her name would just automatically switch my mind to mute. 

Until this weekend. 
Mzansi has a new star and deservedly so. Loliwe The first album from South Africa’s new singing sensation, Bulelwa “Zahara” Mkutukana, has sold out in only 72 hours. The exact figures are topic for debate on many platform but the current estimate is that to date, the albumn has sold over 250 000 units. That's an achievement many South African superstars can only dream of.

The albumn boasts a remarkable blend of 12 soulful, folk and traditional-music inflected tracks sung in isiXhosa and English. BUT unlike many of her predecessors who have dabbled with such blend, hers has a sense of authenticity and innocence to it that makes every track sound and feel like a page off of the singer's life story.

Loliwe manages to capture that rare feet of engaging the listeners in the singer's message, which in this case comes out loud and clear. I am no music buff or anything so I go with what moves me and Zahara has. 

A surprise for me was the fact that Zahara is not actually as unique as I had thought her music would be since she was getting so much attention as if what she sang had never been heard before. 

Truth be told, some of the melodies and just the whole sound has some feel of familiarity to it. Take Xa Bedigena Mama for instance, that could have easily been a Tu Nokwe song. It also has a MamaBusi Mhlongo vigour to it. 

Then there is my favourite track in the whole albumn, Incwadi encane, which sounds like something Oliver Mtukudzi would have in his albumn. 

There is also some Marabi fuse in Thekwana that could have easily passed off on a Mafikizolo offering. 

It is, however, these familiarities and the manner with which Zahara delivers them that make this albumn a gem. No surprise that it has found favour with South Africans of all ages. It is indeed the soundtrack of our generation as it embraces all these genres and sounds that are typically South African and relevant to the time. 

I am also impressed with marketing behind this offering by TS Records. Clearly they did their homework. They have recently released "Ndize" video thus making it a third single of some sort from the albumn. Clever move as the track isn't really that strong and would have been lost in the hype of the others.

Having a strong afro-ballad (if you can call it that) jazzy "Loliwe" as a title track and the first single of the albumn was sheer genius. The track does the job perfectly of introducing Zahara as a strong vocalist thus by the time you get to "Lengoma" which is a collaboration and a house track you already have the box of whether she can sing or not ticked already. Now all you think about is, 'can she make us have fun'

I am not just praising them just because they are my favourite, but Thekwana, Incwadi and Xa Bedingena Mama are strong contenders for best tracks on Loliwe. I just can not get enough of them. Keeping them at bay for now will ensure the longevity of the albumn on shelves. I can not wait for a video for Incwadi. There is a beautiful story behind that song and hopefully it could be told in a well put together video.

If you follow me on Twitter you would have read my Tweet about this, Zahara fans are just as annoying as Beyonce's fans are. You can praise these women all day about everything but do not dare criticise one thing then you are a hater. 

With that I am going to go on a limb here and put my head on a chopping block. Not all is great with this albumn. Personally, I think "My Guitar" is silly song. 

I would go as far as to say that I have never heard such lame lyrics since Beyonce sang about an ice cream truck. Remember the song where Bey sings; "You got me chasing after you like an ice cream truck, I try my best to catchup but I'm always out of luck"

Zahara going; "my guitar, my gui ... iiiii .... iiiii ... tar, so take your time cos time is what its gonna take...." or whatever she is saying in that song, just sounds forced and a little cheesy. Probably when she penned it she had a beautiful message to convey about her guitar giving her comfort in tough times but haai ca the attempt is a total failure.

Funny enough I find all the English songs a bit offish with the exception of "Brand New Day" which in itself is not really a great song. I guess with that I can safely say I prefer Zahara singing in isiXhosa. 

Well, there you go world. I am now a fan of Zahara's. I am anxiously waiting to see her perform "Incwadi" or "Xa Bendingena Mama" live. Shy as she is, it'd be nice to see her dancing to the latter in that xhosa traditional dance with the ululations cheering her on.

By the way, what exactly is "incwad' encane"? is it a note or a letter?

Now that I have declaired my allegiance to the Republic of Zahara, I wish I could just enjoy her in peace. I suppose it is the snob in me, that I don't like it when something I hold dear gets too common. I hate being bombarded with the same content nomatter how good it is as it diminishes the potency of it all if I have to see or hear it everywhere, everyday, everytime.

Zahara fans too ought to just chill. Pretentious much! If you are a true Zahara fan you will be confident in her abilities that a mere criticism of her fashion sense or any of her songs will not send you on a tail spin. One would think the poor girl is God, the way some of these people get all worked up about her. It's not blasphemy to say no to Zahara.

Yes Zahara is talented, the music is good and I concede that I like her. It's for that affection that I hope this over saturation of Zahara-mania will not harm her longevity in this business. Few years ago Thembi Seete, Mshoza, Mzambiya, Brown Dash, KB Motsilenyane, among many others were the future. Now think about what impact they have at this present moment in the music industry. Done? Thank you!!

Amen.

4 comments:

vumaaa said...

I so wish they will do something right on the next coming videos.

The loliwe Video is fine (No story) and the Ndiza video is bad. Low budget and No story at all.

Most people think the song Loliwe means a girl from rural areas going to JHB but i think its the other way around.

So if the videos were good then every one was going to understand.

Ndiza and Loliwe have similar meanings. "coming back ekhaya"

So i think TS records need to up their socks on any other video that will come, they must stop spending R100 on a video to a person who has made moola for them.

All in all That Zahara is great shame.
I also have noticed the feel of other artist in her songs but she does them very well.

Anonymous said...

Everybody is so scared to say anything negative about Zahara. It irritates me too. She is good but she is not perfect.

Thank you for a nice balanced review. It was very refreshing. I love you work Phil. Keep up the good work.

Huge fan

'melo said...

Still, I don't like her. She made it with Loliwe for me until after a few days and now i puke when I hear it. I bought the CD and i regret! What A waste of my R90!
#mytake

'melo said...

Still, I don't like her. She made it with Loliwe for me until after a few days and now i puke when I hear it. I bought the CD and i regret! What A waste of my R90!
#mytake

Powered by Blogger.