Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.


Davina Green: bringing something to the party Everytime

I was sent a link on Twitter to a new Zimbabwean artist called Davina Green by @Eski_Mo. I'm glad I clicked on the link, because the song is great!


The record is called Everytime and it's a no-frills RnB song, with a  great beat and great lyrics and the two are well matched throughout to make an up-tempo love song. Ms Green has what I would call a 'thin' voice even by most women's standards however she's well in control of it and even manages to do some vocal gymnastics with it. I loved the song and would have bought it had she not had it available as a free download. Honestly!

Regular visitors would know that I occasionally blog about music, however on listening to the song, it got me thinking about a topic that has regularly been discussed in Zimbabwean circles. In fact I've ranted about this on Facebook before and I can't resist another rant now that I'm blogging about it!

Basically, a lot of new Zimbabwean artists are singing RnB, Hip-hop and Dancehall tunes in Shona (one of our local languages) and mostly these songs are labelled as a new genre called 'Urban Grooves'. I don't buy into Urban Grooves. I think it's a way of peddling sub-standard music that wouldn't make it as RnB, Hip-hop or Dancehall by just singing it in a different language. From that we constantly hear calls of 'supporting your own' and 'play local artists more'. To be honest the whole debate is ridiculous in my eyes.

Most of the Urban Grooves songs have no real differentiation from their Western counterparts apart from the fact that they are sang in Shona. A lot of the beats are stuck in the '80s and they seem to be caricatures of whatever genre they are meant to derive from. Think of it this way; in Urban Grooves I've heard beats that share more with Chaka Demus and Pliers or Keith Sweat than with the music of today.  That's not to say that those two artists were bad, just that they are now being badly copied by young Zimbabwean artists. Artists bring no real variation within their songs and never mind the albums. I like what the youngsters in South Africa and Ghana did in coming up with Kwaito and Hiplife. Their music is clearly influenced by Hip-hop and dance music but the musical structure is totally different. I believe that they can make the rules now and say what's good and what isn't, because it's different enough to be called  'their' music.

Basically I think our Zimbabwean kids have not brought anything to RnB, Hip-hop or Dancehall to warrant any of it being called a new genre. In saying that, I wouldn't stop anyone putting out music if they feel like it, however what I will do is judge them by the standards of the genre they took from. By those standards most of 'Urban Grooves' is rubbish. There are some Zim guys putting out good RnB or Hip-hop songs in Shona and you have to say even by Western standards, the beats are tight, the flow is good and the lyrics are on point. Way back when, A Peace of Ebony and Zimbabwe Legit were two groups that had lyrics in the vernacular, but even at that time their records could stand up against their American peers. I think members of those two groups would probably agree that they were original in their own way, but not original enough to call their music a new genre. It was still Hip-hop.

I believe that musicians must bring something to the party all the time, whether it's originality or talent. As a music fan I don't care whether you've worked your butt off for the last ten years if you're only going to be putting out wack stuff. I'll care even less if the only thing a musician brings is a different language. By all means a musician can sing in Shona or Klingon if it pleases them, but if it the result isn't good I won't hesitate to call BS.

On Everytime, Davina Green has not done something truly original but she has certainly brought something to the party, and that is her talent. Her song will stand comparison with anything out there. I played it on loop whilst writing this post and I'm still not sick of it. Ms Green has the tools to make a name for herself in the industry and I'll do my bit to spread the word. What's more I certainly won't be feeling linguistically blackmailed Everytime I listen to her song!


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