What did the new school leave in the old school?
Before I start getting into the details of this article, I’d like to assure you that this is not one of those articles where I blast at new music. This is just my opinion of what I believe no longer exists in new music that would make it better if it were preserved.
Human minds and innovations are always in a state of progression, we went from smoke signals to wireless phones. Art and culture have been no different; music has evolved over the years. It probably has its early origins as poetry. Musical notes did not always have a written standard. Music is evolving every single day for the better. Humans always find a way to simplify something and make it less complicated but still effective. In rap music however I think the simplicity has been stretched too far as to give it less and less weight, less substance and relevance to the people it’s made for.
The simplicity is endorsed by the fact that it is easy to have a home studio nowadays. In old times you’d have to be really serious about music to invest in recording, therefore you will realize only those that had perfected their craft would end up doing records. There was a bridge between ambitious shower fans and those that would take it further, use twine and an Olivine gallon to make a guitar and face the mockery of society , “Magitare habhadhare” (guitars don’t pay off). A simple fan wouldn’t go through all that garbage. It was not child’s play, one can tell by looking at a video of Tanga Wekwasando in the studio with Bothwell Nyamondera. But once upon a time the IBM vision of everyone owning a PC came true and Cubase was on Pirate Bay with crack. You didn’t need to perfect your craft or be that serious to do rap. Over ambitious fans would soon assume they were Weezy too. In early Zimbabwean urban culture groups like SLICE would bite off melodies of Back Street Boys hits and add Shona lyrics. The style over substance era was kicking in. It made it hard to differentiate them with the original musicians, people stereotyped it as urban grooves. Computer Music as they would say, as if FL keys played themselves.
The need to master the craft became weaker as the west slacked too (and recently West slacked too). Our artists look up to America a lot unfortunately. It was like case of an abandoned blogger blog. See when things are easy to get, humans take them for granted. A person with a registered domain www.their-name.com is more serious than one who opens a free blogger account, this is why you see most blogger blogs abandoned with one post or even none. The story is, some artist heard a blog was another way to reach out to their fan base, the next thing they registered a blogger account but maintaining it became too much of a problem plus there was no billing so they forgot about it. This is how music in general has become.
The drive to sit down and invest hours of vocal training, learning notes, mastering delivery has faded over the years. Leonard Dembo’s studio time was precious; he was probably billed a lot for one studio session. So he made sure he had good rehearsal outside the studio so that he would nail it the first time. I remember I was in Harare on the 7th of December and while I was there I just decided that I wanted to record.
I had no prior practice or written lyrics so I bought a book and pen and wrote some lyrics to a song which Klasiq is still mastering at the time of this post. I took so many takes till I had my vocals recorded because I was running out of breath and it got me thinking, “Did our pioneers allow themselves to get so rusty?” It wasn’t so much about me writing in the booth (that actually a plus), it was about me losing breath. That itself proved my lack of practice at home even on other songs. However as you always see me write bars on Facebook, my ability to come up with the entire song in a few minutes is because of consistent practice and how I have been working on writing.
In as much as I have worked on writing I realized, it’s time to work on all angles of this craft. People spend money buying bundles to download music and you spit in their face when you give them a substandard product. In 2014 I want to stop uploading all home recordings. The last home recording I gave you was The Rant. I do not want to waste ideas either by over flooding your walls; my art will be compiled in an organized manner and packaged as if it were a product of the old school.
Knowing the advantages of the new school I will borrow good strengths from both ends. I hope I will be able to create the album I promise but so far God seems to be paving the way for such.