Where to for Stunner's career?

HARARE - With many saying hip-hop artiste Stunner had finally met his waterloo after he drove without a driver’s licence and rammed into four parked vehicles, the controversial rapper conjured up a great escape.

The former boyfriend of Big Brother Africa star Pokello, who has often been accused of being shallow and arrogant, surprised many when he pleaded guilty.

What a masterstroke it proved to be! Stunner was spared jail; escaping with just 210 hours of a community service. Avoiding jail could turn out to be the watershed for the Harare-bred rapper’s career which appeared to be headed for a dead end despite his recent release of a 16-track album titled If I die Tonight which featured Jamaican artiste Sir Ford.

Zimbabwean artistes who have been jailed for various offences have generally seen their careers go downhill upon release.

In 1990, the late Paul Matavire was found guilty of rape and served a year behind bars. Though the experience in jail inspired him to compose hits like Joke of the Year and Munhu Akanaka Akarara, both his career and health took a turn for the worse until his death in 2005.

The late dendera star Simon Chimbetu was jailed for four years in 1989 for buying a stolen car. After his release from jail, Chimbetu managed to release bumper albums like Pachipamwe which took him back to the top of the charts but his career lost some lustre while his health was never the same until he passed away in 2005.

Another artiste whose career appears to have suffered from a jail stint is Dudu Manhenga. She was initially slapped with an 18-month jail term in 2014 for causing the death of a motorcyclist and for driving recklessly without a driver’s licence just like Stunner. Upon appeal, the High Court substituted the sentence with a $1 000 fine.

The talented Dudu, who is now a pastor, appears to have lost her appetite for music. She is increasingly devoting most of her time to the church.

The question uppermost in most music fans’ minds is whether Stunner will survive the latest ordeal. His brush with the law has not had an immediate negative impact on his career.

2 Kings Entertainment have included him along with Jah Prayzah, Killer T and Trevor Dongo on the list of artistes who will share the stage with Tanzanian star Diamond Platnumz on December 2 at the Harare International Conference Centre.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday say controversy does not always spur on an artiste’s career in Zimbabwe.

Award-winning arts promoter Biggie Chinoperekwei said controversy is not a foolproof strategy to ride on.

“Creating controversy in a bid to attract publicity has short-term benefits. People should know you for good reasons. When you think of Stunner what quickly comes to mind is his sex tape with Pokello and the recent car accident instead of his hits. Likewise, Trevor Dongo is now associated with fist fighting,” he said.

Zimdancehall promoter Hillary Mutake of Punchline Entertainment said  controversy only benefits an artiste if it is employed in a strategic way.

“The tactic of riding on controversy usually benefits young and upcoming artistes who do so to attract attention, but it does not work for big artistes,” he said.

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