Awards Shambles A Reflection Of Zim Hip Hop
The story that has gripped the local hip hop scene is the fight between two camps of the Zimbabwe Hip Hop Awards.
We have been pretty quiet so far about these awards but, well,we had to talk at some point.
For those who don’t know, the awards have been dogged by squabbling between two sides, one led by the team behind online publication Hip Hop Unleashed and another camp. The main sticking point was over the nominations list. The publications guys are said to have released an unofficial list and then there was a fight over that resulting in some cocktail where a proper list was put out. We think it is just egos by the way.
Then we thought it was all done especially after an kiss and make-up on ZiFM’s hip hop show, The Fixx but it has gone ugly again and the Unleashed guys have since quit. The other lot say they are now working with the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association guys, who themselves are not the brightest bulbs in the locker room.
Then, for a while the rumour was that a committee would decide on winners and then after that it was handed over to the public. Now with the public voting it is turning the whole thing into a people’s choice awards. How the numbers will be audited when they get in is not clear. Sure, this is the second year of the awards and people are learning but this is not rocket science. All shambolic.
Now this may seem like a bunch of individuals letting Zimbabwean hip hop down but in reality they are exactly what local hip hop deserves. Sure there are a few cats who are trying to do things right but a lot of those calling themselves rappers are still just fans and are simply trying to be like their idols. Very few are trying to change the game.
Hip hop in Zimbabwe is shambolic. To put it in the most real terms, to claim we have an industry would be stroking the salami.
How many rappers on that list of nominations can attract a crowd of 100 paying people to their shows? How many have headlined a show in recent times? It is all very well and good to blame promoters but promoters hire people based on numbers and clout.
It’s not enough to quote how many people downloaded your song on Soundcloud or how many times your friend who is DJ played your song on radio. It is not enough to have your friends to fist-bump you and call you the best. You need to be relevant. To be relevant, you have to go beyond just putting a couple of rhyming lines together and take it to the next level. People who don’t care about hip hop have to mess with you because you are relevant.
Just like these boys who are running the Awards are not authorities on running the awards, very few who spit on the mic can claim to be connoisseurs of the game. It is easy to blame someone else but Zim hip hop let this situation happen. If they were the custodians of the game they would have shut this down real quick and demanded accountability and a process that gives them legitimacy. Right now we risk a situation where someone with an Internet connection and a lot of time on their hands could be crowned the best.
This happened on the watch of the current hip hop crop because there is no universal standard or identity when it comes to the game. Right now, it is pretty much like the wild wild west and any gun can shoot. So if the game itself is without common direction – growth and all of that – how can we expect an awards thingamajig to have it?
Maybe we just expect too much.
Do we think the awards should go ahead? To be honest, right now, we don’t care.
Yeah we said it.