Urban grooves alive, kicking: Decibel

HARARE - Urban grooves legend Decibel says the genre is not dead but has metamorphosed into various music styles.

Decibel, whose hits Nakai and Chido made him the darling of music fans in the early 2000s, told the Daily News on Sunday that those who are “harping” about the demise of urban grooves are doing so because they are unaware of what the genre is all about.

“My first response would be to define what the urban grooves genre is, because if we take it for what it is it has nothing to do with how the music sounds. It has to do with who listens to that music and what location it is produced and consumed.

“The genre will always be there because the urban location is always going to be there. In Zimbabwe when the term was coined, it referred to something that was a fusion of R ‘n’ B, hip-hop, dancehall and those three genres were what most young people listened to,” said Decibel who was born Daniel Mazhandu.

He added that the urban grooves genre needs no revival because it is alive and kicking.

“It never went anywhere. It’s just that the dominant genre within the urban grooves movement at the moment is dancehall. It’s still urban grooves really because it’s not Jamaican dancehall; it’s Zimdancehall.

“Zimdancehall is urban grooves by definition as the people who make it and consume it are in the urban demographics. I am pretty sure if you go to another country and you look for urban grooves it will never sound like Zimbabwean urban grooves,” he said.

The United Kingdom-based Decibel is currently working on a new album with the help of Kwekwe-based music producer DJ Fydale.

“I have not had any serious music release since I left Zimbabwe in 2005.  Some of the singles on the forthcoming album are Zimbabwe and Ndarota Ndinewe.

“I have been involved in a few singles here (UK) but they were never pushed in Zimbabwe. The ones people in Zimbabwe may have heard include my cameo role in JJC’s We are Africans and my single called Dancehall Style which featured Bkay and Kazz…I have not been in the game so to speak,” said the Nakai singer.

The urban grooves star is delighted to be making a comeback into the Zimbabwean music industry after a decade on the sidelines.

“I don’t think I have lost my fans from what I see on my fan page. I just feel like they are there and some of them are always expressing disappointment over my not releasing stuff. They are always asking when I will release new stuff. They encourage me on.

“What I think made me stand out was not the melodies, but my take on life. I have a very balanced view of life in general. My songs are mainly social commentary and I can’t take credit for the songs. I sing what’s in my fans’ minds,” said Decibel.

Despite the forthcoming release of his first album since he left Zimbabwe a decade ago, Decibel has serious misgivings about the state of Zimbabwe’s music industry.

“On the commercial side of it, it is not very good. In Zimbabwe music has not yet managed to become a big commercial industry.

“Only a few manage to make a living out of it. Maybe it might look different on the ground but comparing ours with where I am, it doesn’t look good.

“I guess it has to do with the Zimbabwean economy as a whole. You can’t expect the music industry to be flourishing in isolation when other parts of the economy are not. If the economy improves the industry can improve to be a taxable one,” he said.

The only consolation for Decibel is the emergence of an exciting new crop of artistes.

“We have a lot of new artistes popping up almost every week and each one has good stuff. It’s not only the established artistes who are producing good stuff, maybe they get more airplay but the new artistes are doing well.

“Technology has made it possible for good quality recordings to take place, I am quite happy about that,” said the urban grooves legend.

Since relocating to the United Kingdom, Decibel has been concentrating on his career as a biochemist.

“As most people in Zimbabwe will know, I am a biochemist, it was much publicised when I got into the music scene. It was something that people were not used to having someone who had a good job and singing at the same time.

“I stay in the Robin Hood Country, where we steal from the rich and give to the poor, that’s Nottingham,” he said.

Though he has a fairly good job, this has not masked the reality that he is in a foreign land.

“I miss my country. I will come back home. There is that feeling of belonging that you could never feel when you are a foreigner. That said I have spent half of my adult life in the UK.

“I still have a family in Zimbabwe. My dad died, my mom does not live in Zimbabwe any more but I still have siblings there. I would love to come back. And my fans also, from what I see on my fan page, I can feel the love and being missed, I miss that too.

“I will come back, whether I will come back to stay I can’t say,” said Decibel.

The popular artiste was, however, unwilling to discuss neither his marital status nor the number of children he has.

“I think this is a question you should never ask a Zimbabwean or a Jamaican musician really. Either because they may not know how many children they have, or they are not willing to share.

“It’s not a question I would ask, but it is a good question all the same,” he joked.

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