2018 is on a great trajectory in terms of Zim music. Encouraging signs are everywhere and I managed to get my hands on the brand new project by the man around town: Takura.
Soul Afrika was Takura’s door into the music industry but now Takura has fully found his own voice following his solo introduction 2 years ago. To see him release a full length album so soon after the very successful Relationship Goals EP was a bit of a surprise. In its own way it shows the kind of work Takura is putting in. I have said this time and time again, these days the shelf life of most music is very short. A year ago we were doing the ‘sha sha’ on Cassper Nyovest’s Tito Mboweni and how many people have it on their playlists right now? To see Takura releasing music and videos the way he is, shows that he is in tune with the wider African market. Tick.
Some Had To Do it (SHTDi) opens up with a very smooth intro featuring Rachel Makaranga and the talented IARE. The whole intro gives you insight into what to expect musically from this project. If you are expecting a replica of the Relationship Goals EP, hold it right there. Don’t. Just listen to this with a fresh pair of ears my friend.
‘Ita Yauri Kuita’ is very Takura in my opinion. Ever since ‘Zino Irema’ he addresses the very existence of how we relate from haters to lovers. Such is his confidence that he calls out anyone that tries to destabilize his flow. It translates very well to his music. This is also what makes ‘Ita Yauri Kuita’ a fitting first song. He talks a bit about his journey and not willing to go back to the days of no success and so he will continue doing what he does. He stays in his lane and for your own safety, best for you to stay in yours. Zvobva zvavharana (it all balances out/cancels the other out).
‘Ndakabva kuJecha’ features the skillful bars of veteran Zimbabwean rapper Jnr Brown. The tune basically is about starting from the bottom. I could tell that Takura really embraces his struggles. A lot of his music refers to the hard work and sacrifices it took him to make it. Others call him cocky but I see a man that is very sure of himself without being afraid to show it. No one could have been a better fit for this song than Jnr Brown. He brings a certain composure to the track to make the listener really listen. As a result, ‘Ndakabva kuJecha’ is one of the songs of the album and both artists gave an excellent account of themselves.
Songs like ‘Ndoda More’ which talks about the love for money and success took me on a very vivid journey. I saw myself in Takura’s mind and living the exact same way, wanting the same things. This is part of what makes this album as good as it is. If you have ever heard how vivid Dr Dre’s albums are, you will find a similar level of attention to detail on this album. That is one of the most challenging aspects for anyone that makes music: being able to take your listener into the core of your own imagination and make them visualize it the same way you do.
The track record speaks for itself; Takura can sing! Like most other vocalists, he has his range of comfort. What Takura lacks in vocal prowess, he makes up for in excellent delivery. He knows when holding a chord will sweeten the deal and where he doesn’t need to flex those capabilities. Even though there isn’t too much by way of collabos here, the few that made an appearance managed to shine. And Takura isn’t the guy to ask for a collabo to try and raise his profile. That tells you something. CciCci totally owned ‘Ndanga Ndisingazive’ and is easily one of the best female vocalists in Zim right now. Her voice is so RnB I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. Can’t wait to hear more from her. Just had to slot that in there, even on Takura’s stage. 🙂
The production quality on SHTDi is truly something we have been lacking in Zimbabwe over the years within the more youthful genres. With archives of rushed projects and get-rich-quick approaches to making music, Zimbabweans have become accustomed to mediocre music. Music which cannot compete on the continental or international stages. Much like our politics we have come to accept mediocrity as the norm. Takura decided to change all that – hence Someone Had To Do it. Intent is one thing but actually doing it is something else. He challenged every Zim music stereotype and won.
SHTDi will have you trapping, nodding your head to the music and if you must, dabbing. This album is the perfect balance between RnB, Hip Hop in general then Trap. I mean from a worldwide perspective, not just Zim. The genres blend so well and it reminded me of how Drake manages to strike the very same balance while borrowing the best elements of music worldwide. Don’t be fooled, Takura is definitely no Drake sound-alike. Not even close. On that level, Drake couldn’t do what Takura does anyway. The sound is young, unique and African. SHTDi is as Zimbabwean as an album gets. It’s not so much that he mixes Shona and English seamlessly sprinkling a dash of Ndebele but he manages to translate the lifestyle of the Zimbabwean youth and things dear to them while retaining the ‘cool factor’. That cool factor has been argued by many to be the missing ingredient in our music. When he references ‘hona mandebvu‘ to mean check out the beard gang or ‘ndiri kuchururuka‘ to mean he is dripping of swag, Takura takes youthful social media trends and spins them into lingo we grew up using. Now this is where this album shines: it has a very unique identity which embodies the very way of life of a young Zimbabwean. Our thoughts, our feelings, our needs, our wants, our lifestyles.
Ndinzwe mumwe munhu achiti “Zim music hainakidzi, it can’t compete with the rest” futi…
I watched the SHTDi short documentary on YouTube before listening to the album so I had a sense of what Takura’s favourite songs were on this body of work. Many of his favs were mine as well. ‘Ngoro Yemoto’ is a contender for my playlist on-going and ‘Chururuka’ which is as swaggy as they come, is too. Add ‘Asiri Tsaga’, ‘Top Top (R.I.P Chipo)’ and ‘Handivhunduke’ to that list of songs I have already mentioned and you have potential runaway hits in the double figures. The whole album is pretty much a hit. I don’t like adding any negatives to these album reviews but if I must, as much as I appreciate the 18 tracks, I would have ended it at 12-14 tracks. Eventually at the end a couple of joints will sound the same. But what’s work without room to do even better next time? Can’t fault Takura and his team for anything here.
I haven’t heard an album this vivid or masterful since Munetsi’s 2004 classic Muzukuru waGogo. It’s safe to say the new school is now current. Takura did that.
Zimbabwean music has a new leader. New dispensation.