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Zimdancehall which is a subgenre of reggae/dancehall music from Zimbabwe, started in the late 80's with the rising up of local sound systems like A1 Sound, Startime sound which exposed mic chanters like Culture T, Allan Ranks, and Dudz (who was way ahead of his time) to ride on riddims imitating their Jamaican icons at the same time creating their own style. In the 1990s as dancehall took over with artists like Tiger, Shabba Supercat, Ninja , Papa San and a new crop of MCs began to emerge with the likes of Major E, Rassie Ai, Booker T, Smylie, Potato, Yappie Banton, Daddy Distress, Kuda Culture (brother to Culture T) dominating the sound systems. Startime Supa Power were the first sound system to push most of these artists to record their songs, starting first with dub plates the most popular being 'Sounds of the 90's by Major E & Booker T on Hypocrite Riddim instrumental side of Daddy Freddie & Micheal Prophet song with the same title and Rassie Ai ft Booker T 'Svinurai/Vanofarira Startime' on the Pepperseed Riddim. The popularity of these recordings led to more studio recordings with Major E & Booker T releasing a 7" vinyl single of 'Sound of the 90's', Yappie Banton releasing Memories and Water ina mi room. The biggest achievement was by Culture T with the band Transit Crew releasing top selling albums and toured Europe. By the end of the 90s, a number of local youths were recording singles and albums independently and reggae bands like Cruxial Mix (Trevor Hall) and Black Roots holding regular weekly shows to showcase various artists like Potato, Daddy Ray, Ijah son, Jnr Banton, Slaggy Yout, Bobo Markos, Desert Eagle, Sanchez and more. The genre was always cast as a copy cat of Jamaican culture and way of life so it was never taken seriously and recording studios shunned it saying it does not appeal or sell. It was not until the emergence of independent studios and the arrival of urban grooves in 2001 that opened up the doors for many artists with the release of many various artists albums like 'the future' 'Chamhembe','Chigutiro' which paved the way for artists like Trinta and Sniper Storm. Sniper Storm went on to release the album 'Ndakabata Mic' in 2004 a hardcore dancehall album. What really separated this album from its predessors was the fact that all its lyrics were in Shona and not English/Patios which proved really popular with the people creating a new direction for the genre.
2005 saw the rise of Winky D -arguably the most decorated artist in the genre- who released hit track after track under the It was not until 2006 that another artist Slaggy Yout who was now based in the UK renamed it to Zimdancehall after creating the first website dedicated to promoting the genre. This was the start of the movement and it was a period when Zimbabwe was going through a rough time with political and economic sanctions and most artists could not afford or gain access to the internet. In light of this, another artist based in Zimbabwe Mad Fisher had to personally collect tracks from artists and post them to the UK or upload in internet cafes with funding from the website. The website popularized the Zimdancehall genre as at that time none of the artists were getting any airplay whatsoever and promoters did not even bother to book and market the artists. It was individual promoters like Godfatha Templeman, Simmad and Silverstone Sound who arranged shows in the Ghetto. At the present moment, it has taken over the country and the region to a certain level with present chanters like Sniper Storm, Winky D, LXG, Di Topololo, Quonfused, rollerg, Seh Calaz, Soul Jah Love, Killer T, Elcee Gweja and others. This includes new mix tapes from sounds like black scorpion soundz based in Mutare, Judgement Yard,South African based DJ Travella, Festbwon Productions Generally Harare based. Other cities like Gweru Mkoba are also grooming youths through Eric Muzvidziwa and others. Producers includes Sunshine family,Real Sound Records,Royal Sounds International Championed by Selekta Trooper (RUDD CHIMZ) and Mc Reggie D (Regis Mutapwa) Magweja, Ice and Roses,Chillspot,Cashlibs,Bodyslam 22.214.171.124 SoundmindZ; Zimtach Records; MAK Records(www.makrecords.com) and the long established Vigilance among others.
It is the stronghold of Zimbabwean music as of now with its listeners consisting of both the young and old. It has taken almost 60 percent of Zimbabwean radio airplay.
Well known Zimdancehall musicians
Seh Calaz (born August 2, 1990 in Zimbabwe as Tawanda Mumanyi) is a Zimbabwean rapper. Seh Calaz grew up with Harare and attended St. Peter's Primary School, Mutendi High School and the Trust Academy in Harare. He married Thembelihle Moyo and has a daughter with her. In 2013 he began his career with the song Mabhanditi, which went viral in slums but was not played by radio stations. Only his song Mumota Murikubvira, which glorifies marijuana, was played by most radio stations. In 2013 Seh Calaz was voted Best Male Dancehall Artist at the King of the Dancehall Competition. In the same year Seh Calaz published together with Turbulence a remix of Seh Calaz 'Song Mumota Murikubvicra. In 2016, Seh Calaz was nominated six times for the Zimdancehall Awards.
Soul Jah Love
Soul Jah Love (born November 22, 1989, real name: Soul Musaka) is a Zimbabwean Zimdancehall singer. He grew up in Harare as a half-orphan and left home early. Since the age of 7, he has suffered from diabetes mellitus; repeated hospitalizations made him believe in God. He attended Mhofu Primary School, Prospect Primary School, and then Lord Malvern High School, where he developed a strong interest in music. He married the Zimdancehall musician Bounty Lisa; they influenced each other in their music career.
Soul Jah Luv made a musical breakthrough in 2012 with the song Ndini uya uya. All Zimbabwean radio stations played the song, and he landed on the top of the Zimbabwean charts for several weeks. He also released successful music with Shinsoman. In 2013 he won two awards at the Zim Dancehall Awards ("Best Collaboration" and "Best Upcoming Artist"). In 2014, he honored President Robert Mugabe with a song. In 2013 he was elected the third best male dancehall artist. He became one of the few dancehall singers to play alongside a live band (the largest ever after those of Oliver Mtukudzi and Alick Macheso). In 2016, he was seriously injured on the way to a concert in Victoria Falls by a car accident in Gweru.
Soul Jah Love contributed decisively to the establishment of Zimdancehall as a popular political form of expression for the economically oppressed population of Zimbabwe (including his song Kuponda nhamo of 2015).
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- Uche Onyebadi: Music as a Platform for Political Communication. (Reihe Advances in Media, Entertainment, and the Arts) IGI Global, 2017, S. 251. ISBN 978-1-5225-1987-4