As Zim dancehall and its often hate-filled message comes to a conclusion, artistry and hard work are increasingly becoming determining factors for the careers of young Zimbabwean artists, most of whom, ironically, came onto the scene during the country’s dancehall era.
This is a good development, if the country wants to claim its share of the multibillion dollar entertainment industry. Talent has never been in short supply in Zimbabwe; the country has witnessed a galaxy of stars in different eras who have made a mark on the world stage. Leonard Dembo illuminated Miss World with Chitekete, Thomas Mapfumo became synonymous with socialism and pan-Africanism, Bhundu Boys – and now Mookomba – make waves on the world music scene and Oliver Mtukudzi is known for all good things including lending his voice to fight gender inequality and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Now that Africa is in an era of flamboyance, monster hits and global recognition, who will be the next face of Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe’s Nutty O stands head and shoulders above his peers. His awareness that African music is experiencing a transformation both in content and form has to be admired. Today, most African pop sounds quite similar and the move to adopt comparable styles is most likely motivated by the cognisance that music needs to transcend languages and borders if it is to be successful. The danger is that the more artists sound similar, the easier it is for them to get lost in a sea of sameness. Of course some of this shared sound has its roots and dominance in particular African nations, for instance the bongo sound of Tanzania, or the ‘Mafikizolo’ sound. But Nutty O’s preferred reggae-dancehall style transcends mere fads and speaks to an international audience; it’s not surprising that of late his name has been mentioned in the same breath as Nigerian superstar Patoranking. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Zimbabwean artist smashes the world charts.
The talented Mbare-bred musician is the first Zimbabwean artist to be featured on DJ Edu’s Destination Africa show on BBC 1Xtra with ‘Kwandabva Kure’, a track produced by another of Zimbabwe’s great talents, DJ Tamuka. The track was for some time a radio staple on Zimbabwe’s radio stations.
Nutty O’s socially relevant lyrics are influenced by his upbringing. He sings about our lived realities, no matter how painful they are. It is his silky voice and vocal technique that sooth away the pain. As you listen to Nutty O’s music, you begin smiling at your challenges and overcoming them seems to be in your grasp. His religious inspired songs are just as effective.
Recently, Nutty O’ was signed to the Military Touch Movement (MTM), the stable of Andy Muridzo, DJ Tamuka, ExQ, Tahle and the label’s owner, Jah Prayzah.
Nutty O’s manager, Byron Kabaira, has said plans are already under way to have the rising Zimbabwean star collaborate with both upcoming and established African artists, and that there has been an overwhelming response from respectable musicians from Zimbabwe and abroad who have shown interest to work with the youngster.
Nutty O’ was born Carrington Simbarashe Chiwadzwa in 1992. He is religious and believes there is a God in the heavens above who makes all things possible. He loves to mention, specifically, that when one combines prayer and persistence, everything is possible – a philosophy that should see the talented artist reach great heights.