It is hardly artistic genius, rather, aggressive marketing and a saleable Brand Macheso are responsible for the commercial success of sungura ace Alick Macheso’s 10th studio album.
There is nothing outstanding or unique in Macheso’s “Tsoka Dzerwendo”. Every trick he used on his latest offering he has used before.
It is definitely better than his last self-praising delivery “Kwatakabva Mutunhu”, but this is not the kind of product one can compare with the chart-topping “Ndezvashe” — the album that carried “Madhuve” and “Chengetai”. Or better still “Simbaradzo”, which according to official Gramma Records sales sold more than 350 000 copies with songs like “Mai Varubhi” and “Petunia”.
This effort does not make Macheso the best sungura artiste in the land, it just confirms he is has a bigger and more marketable brand.
So before music lovers even speculate if this album is enough to silence Zim dancehall, they should be asking themselves if it is capable of silencing Jah Prayzah.
Because as things stand, what Macheso has done is inspire Jah Prayzah and Suluman Chimbetu to pull up their socks and up their game in their next projects.
Yes, people will throng Macheso’s shows, but do not expect to see any new faces. This album does not have what it takes to recruit new followers.
It is just enough to bring back the same old faces that had stopped frequenting his shows because they were disgruntled: disgruntled not only by the artiste’s lack of new material on the market, but also bored of watching the same act over and over again.
Having lost solid instrumentalists in Zakaria Zakaria, Innocent Mjintu and Lucky Mumiriki, who is sick, plus the desertion by talented band members like vocalist-cum-dancer Franco Silomo and lead guitar maestro Noel Nyazanda, Macheso’s act has never been the same.
No doubt Macheso is back, but he is back with average music. I give it 65 percent.
This business of composing and producing himself is not working for him and his music. There is a certain clumsiness there, a failure to mix elements properly.
Considering Macheso’s stature, no employee of his would dare tell him that the music he is doing today is not quite friendly to the ear.
However, like one blogger predicted, this album is likely to break sales records, but it will not be because of its content.
It all boils down to sound marketing strategies spearheaded by Jive Zimbabwe with the support of the resources brought in to bear by Red Cross Zimbabwe, an organisation for which Macheso is an ambassador.
If figures being bandied about of sales of 100 000 in the first 12 hours of release are true, then it is clear that the brand, the price of US$1, marketing and distribution played a crucial role.
Remember, for the first time in years, Macheso actively participated in the promotion of an album. Had this album been quietly released and played for the first time at some obscure show disguised as a launch, as was Macheso’s norm, all this hype would not be there.
The elimination of Macheso’s previous manager William Tsandukwa also helped a lot: decisions are being made by younger, more dynamic people, people who know when to swallow pride and bring back real talent like they did with drummer Obert Gomba whose drumming skills made a huge difference on this new album.
One thing for sure is that the “return” of Macheso has made the local music industry more interesting, competitive and even unpredictable. It is guaranteed that Jah Prayzah is dropping an album this year, so is Sulu – therefore 2016 is indeed a year look forward to both musically and in terms of showbiz activity.
An avid Macheso fan, Calvin Mpofu aka Mukoma Kevi, had this to say:
“As a Macheso fan, having waited this long, yah it’s ok. Judging from what he has done before, I feel that it’s not top-of-the-range. Maybe it’s because he has no competition. He is our guy, so we will listen. But the truth is those boys, the likes of Franco Silomo and Romeo Gasa are not far behind. So from me this album gets a 50 percent.