By Trevor Makonyonga
The first thing this writer would like to admit is that he was on the band wagon that tagged Nutty O’s just released album, Mustard Seed, an ordinary sound. The ever growing ABX family and the legion of Zimbabwean music advocates would bash and ridicule to closed ears and a determined mind.
After replaying the album over and over again there was a serious realisation that the songs are not only catchy but also very substantial. Handipere Power has been on many people’s playlists and that is what he would have hoped for; just one stone that hits the target out of five set for the sling.
How did we get here? This is a question which attracts subjective answers although ultimately it would lead to one objective assessment of the current state of affairs. In 2010, Beenie Man and Cindy Munyavi set the stage for what would become the trend in dancehall since their performance at Old Hararians was not only solid but pacesetting. It was the probably the first onstage interactive performance between a world acclaimed artist and a local artist.
There was a serious culture of dancehall within Zimbabwe that Jamaican artists like Beenie Man, Sizzla Kalonji, Capleton, Mr Vegas, Elephant Man, General Degree, Cecile, Crisy D among others commanded huge followings. Such influence of the Jamaican dancehall scene attributed to Zimbabwe having such hits as Fortune Muparutsa’s Wangu Ndega and Innocent Utsiwegota and Major E’s In my dreams and Country Boy.
There was some sort of excitement when local artists collaborated with Jamaican artists. Even when Jamaican artists sang about Zimbabwe, there was some frenzy witnessed. The country witnessed great hits like when Jusa Dementor and Abra Simz produced Red Rat’s Rise up Zimbabwe when Winky D collaborated with Hawkeye and the Seh Calaz, Turberlence classic Mumota menyu murikubvira. Then came Zimdancehall which for long seemed to dominate the airwaves and was somewhat divorced from the Jamaican sound. Zimdancehall became a sound for a section of the youth but could not fully capture what could be called an international audience.
Then, enter the new creed of artists like Nutty O, Poptain, Anita Jackson, Reign and Don Karnage to mention but a few; who have this deep Jamaican sound that is really captivating. The Mustard Seed has set a platform for other Zimbabwean artists who also sing the same type of music.
Listening to the album, one will realise that the songs that Nutty O sang alone or had a local collaborative artist had more power than those he did with international acts. His collaborations with Demarco and Stonebwoy did not really nail the head. They do not have as much substance as Handipere Power, Finesse and Kung Fu. These three songs could easily become international hits. Time will tell if this assessment is factual.
Another prediction is that lesser known artists like Don Karnage and Reign can ride on the current wave and gain acceptance thereof. There is a lot of good music on the block and again time will tell if facts are being raised.
Apart from predictions, Zimbabweans are desperate for that one act who will blow up. This could be the reason why social media is quick to celebrate anything certified BWE even if it’s mediocre. Before this writer liked the album, there is one respectable artist who told him that Mustard Seed is sonically good and argued that it could have been even better by including more producers from out of Zimbabwe.
After all is said, Nutty O’s Mustard Seed is a sufficient project that will make anyone contemplating releasing an album or even a single think twice. This is how good Nutty O did and fans will probably dance to the germinating Mustard Seed till Christmas and other festive season beyond 2021.