At least, it has not been a year.
It has been a time away, of course, but looking at the dates gives me some stupid assurance that it really has not been that long. It has not been a year.
I know of people who, in the crowding madness of busies, have abandoned their blogs for over a year or even longer than that yet here, for me, I have beaten them. It has not been a year.
I am writing while listening to Lulu’s three new songs: N’dzalera, Kukhululuka and Mtima wakana. They are on repeat, in that order.
Now, I have a soft spot for music. Good music and not just any other collection of noise and nonsense being labeled as music.
I remember Lulu from the time he entered the music scene: a young man who had the potential yet in my eyes had not the charisma to mark himself out of the ordinary. At that time, Lulu appeared as one who could make music yet, for whatever reason, had decided to use a wrong genre for the local audience: what now is termed as urban music but in actuality is a field where every mediocre act was tolerated. (Sadly, this time around, mediocrity is everywhere in our music – not just urban music!)
Nevertheless, I enjoyed Lulu’s song: Magwiragwira. Ask me today and I will not tell you what I liked between the message and the instrumentation or even both. I just liked it, that I know, and in more than an instance I caught myself whistling towards it.
Then, Lulu read the signs. He was in the wrong field. Urban, or what I call bubblegum music, was not his trade. He had a higher calling. And, I remember it was Zimangochitika that first made me shudder if it was the same Lulu I knew of that I was listening to that time.
The song, danceable as it was, had the touch of an artist who wanted to get in touch with an audience he could not easily reach if he was to stick to his former self. From that moment, I have observed, that the man has been growing – not only his trademark hair – but in every artistic aspect of him.
He has given out some of the best songs that have included Mwachenjera, Palibe vuto, Sindilora and my all time favorite from him: Kumalembe. In all those songs, Lulu has shown the signs of a man climbing up a ladder of success. A man who, in him, age has not been visiting alone as it does to others but has come together with its companion, wisdom.
This year, Lulu has started releasing some songs. I hear it will be an album and, heaven knows, once that album is out I am ready to spend the last penny I can have on it.
I like N’dzalera. I like not the Rhumba touch. No! I am no man of Rhumba. If it is dancing I want I listen to reggae – not Rhumba or anything unless I am high on something, usually peer pressure. Lulu gives an artistic touch to the song: the introduction. In it, he lets a younger version of him takes on his trade. A young man hisses with a fragile childish voice the sound check ‘one-two’. At the outlook, it is just a simple thing yet the thing in me tells me that Lulu is an artist – not just a noisemaker.
And then, Lulu takes an aim at other professions as he defends his own. All he promises the lady he is addressing is that he will compose songs for him as a musician. With a joking tone, he woos the lady by discrediting accountants.
“C’mon,” Lulu tells the lady. “Accountants are used to counting things, they will even be counting the kisses they give you. What more? They will even count the help they will give out to your relatives.”
Childish somehow, somehow deep. It is that defense of his frowned-upon trade that is my part of interest. And the chorus. It has the lines every lover needs to say or hear:
Bola ana angawo kankhope atengere iwe
Bola ana angawo khalidwe atengere iwe
(as long as my children take after you
Then I care not about the number of children we will have)
Then there is Kukhululuka. It has the African drum rumbling, of course, but even the message therein is deep. Being the artist he is, he is not only satisfied with putting the message across. He even considers the way he puts it across. No wonder, Lulu lets an authoritative and deep voice commentate as the song goes along spreading not only a message but also diffusing a talent that has well been nurtured by a man who has let time beat the boy in him – an act many local artists have to undergo before we take them seriously.
I like the song, Kukhululuka, and I wish it were all rosy yet somewhere as he approaches the end Lulu resorts to the Nkasa trade of just mentioning names of people. All for what? I wonder.
Yes, music is personal but it is as well universal. Why, of all things, does Lulu resort to mentioning names? It might be that I miss something or it might be that it is Lulu who missed something yet all in all the song shows a maturity those who appeared with him on the music scene failed to get such that they fell by the way and now they are a detail of music history – examples of how not to be a musician.
I say the strength of Lulu is that he is not that musician whose instrument he knows in the band is the microphone. I know him to be one versatile guitarist. A guy whose fingers massage the guitar in such a way that he lets it communicate what words cannot.
It is in Mtima wakana that he has let that other side of him manifest. It is the guitar that comes first and then his melodious voice ride on the guitar making a perfect blend rarely witnessed in local music such that when the drums come to – they are the same African drums rumbling with a fury – one is already lost in the song and all they do is catapult one onto a cloud nine.
And the message? Well, it is the same for lovers.
And that is another new element in the tracks of Lulu I have listened to. The man has moved from his usual complaints typical in Zimangochitika and Mwachenjera in which he laments for a runaway lover. This time it is a romantic Lulu who, with a bang, has announced:
I am back!