CRITICAL LANGUAGE ANALYSIS
-For every writer, speaker or musician there is a finite set of possibilities that are available linguistically to express and talk about a subject or topic in a given social context- (Kwaramba 1997:12)The language used by an artist denotes a lot, as in relation to the artist’s background, social concerns and his or her position in the social structure. There is no such thing as neutral data, therefore ultimately all musical text is related to life experiences and situations. Music is the prime instance of the traffic of ideas up and down modes of representation. Discourse is actually shaped by power relations in society and therefore contributes to social continuity and change. Musical discourse is mainly configured in the domain of sound, language and metaphors of expressive gestures with the capacity to engage us in exploring structural change and new ways of construing the world.
Musical lyrics can be transcribed and be read as poetry. When sounds powerful enough to threaten existing situations emerge, interpretations, choices, tastes are made. However, going back to language, when an artist uses certain aspects of language, it is for a purpose. Language use also brings out a world view, and in this case it can be a European or African world view. In urban grooves music, there is a way in which they use language which is different from other genres of music. According to Kwaramba (1997:9), words do not carry the same meanings outside of the cultural and social contexts in which the texts are produced. Musicians use carefully chosen modes of expression which excludes other possibilities.
Choice of phrases, repetition of same words, mixture of both English and Shona or Ndebele languages, choice of titles of songs and albums gives interpretation of the musician’s intended message and ideology. This includes selection of certain linguistic expressions, keywords, social context, thematic concerns, symbolism and lexicalization. As social relations change, music also changes and this is reflected in urban grooves music. English is used as a medium of communication in schools and the media, and this also has got consequences in expressions used in music by the youths. Urban grooves musicians’ medium of expression will be examined.
3.2.3 SPOKEN AND WRITTEN TEXT ANALYSIS
-A spoken text is simply what is said in a piece of spoken discourse and the written text can be used to refer to a written transcription of what is said- (Fairclough 2001:20)Discourse refers to the whole process of social interaction of which a text is part and a text is product of the process of text production. Songs can be transcribed from spoken texts to written texts and therefore the text becomes a resource for text interpretation. People interpret texts through their knowledge of the language, representations of the natural and social worlds they inhabit, values, beliefs and assumptions.Texts produced have -footprints’ of social relations and the struggles generated. Different strategies are used by artists to put their ideas across. This includes the social conditions of production and social conditions of interpretation. (Fairclough 2001:21)However texts are interwoven with facial expressions and gestures. In this case the researcher will use videos of some songs by urban grooves musicians to analyze gestures and facial expressions. These are the extra-linguistic features.After the transcription of songs into written texts, Fairclough (2001) distinguishes three stages of critical discourse analysis which are: i) Description of the formal properties of a text ii) Interpretation which is categorized into six levels which include situational context, intertextual context, surface of utterance, meaning of utterance, local coherence and text structure. iii) Explanation concerns itself with the social determination of the process of production and interpretation and the social effects. Intertextual context can also refer to the historical series of society, and deciding which series a text belongs to. Explanations can also be drawn into three levels, that is explanation at society level, explanation at institutional level and at situational level mainly because people see or look at the same thing with different perspectives.
3.2.4 MEANING IN TEXTS AND LANGUAGE USE
Language use reproduces culture from generation to generation, and the language used by urban grooves artists makes assumptions of their listeners or customers. All language is intertextual, it is shaped by prior texts, oriented to conventions and interpreted against the background of a very large corpus of linguistic experience (Stubbs 1996:92) It is against this background that the researcher will analyze word meaning and context used since all words are open to new uses and are flexible in their meanings to some extent. For a word to be branded obscene, there are reasons for that in our cultural context. There are therefore changing relations between occurrences in a text and the underlying language system. (Stubbs 1996). It is therefore necessary to identify linguistic mechanisms which convey ideologies and other things. Such analysis will show how grammar can help to explain the discourse of society, how different points can be explained by stylistic choices and how they can embody different ideologies.
The thematic concerns of the music of Maskiri and Xtra Large will therefore be analyzed vis–vis those of Western musicians, especially hip-hop music. They may use similar grammar to convey their ideas about women, life and many ethics about morality and society in general in the context of our Zimbabwean culture. Aspects of American culture, like rebelliousness, use of vulgarities and obscene language, will be analysed and examined in comparison with the thematic concerns of urban grooves music. Similarities in attire, types of dances, rhythm and lifestyle will also be analysed. These are the extra-linguistic features.
3.2.5 RESEARCH CONSTRAINTS
All the various methods used have their own deficiencies and limitations. Also, the study needed a great deal of time, and the time available was very inadequate. The transcription of songs needed individual attention such that the time taken was very long. A whole year of studying can be adequate. Notwithstanding these problems I tried my best by recording all interviews, and all lyrics were written down in as short a time as possible. The lyrics of the music of Eminem, Ice Cube and Tupac was taken from the internet.
The Chapter discussed methods of gathering data used in the research. To complement textual analysis, interviews with musicians and producers of music were carried out. Music videos of urban grooves musicians like Xtra Large were also used.
PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS
Nowadays there is rampant commercialization of music especially hip-hop music. Through globalization, many forms and transformations of hip-hop music can be seen in the world, especially third world countries like Zimbabwe. Many of its aesthetic values have been commercialized and ingrated into other people’s cultural values. Its ethics of love and authenticity to its problematic constructions of masculinities and femininities to its mass production and widespread consumption by many people has led to its transplantation on local cultures and people.
Now people seek identity and recognition through the religion of consumerism (Hertz 2001:115) In this way, people are looking for an overall context, which will enable them to understand the complexities of life in a world continually shaped by global influences and the difficulty of finding any sense of community. (Sennet 2000:175) One of the most important aspects of music is to share life experiences, social situations and make sense to different kinds of people.
However in urban grooves music, the older generation has got some reservations to their type of music, especially the use of obscene language in the music of the likes of Decibel, Xtra Large, Maskiri and many others. Urban grooves musicians have been therefore accused of imitating American superstars like Eminem. Music genres grow in a certain scenarios and social situations. Hip-hop music grew in certain social situations and, in Zimbabwe many people have been complaining that urban grooves musicians are imitating American musicians like Eminem and Tupac. The researcher used the music of Eminem and Tupac, looking at the themes of his music and what many critics point out as the deficiencies of his music vis–vis the music of local artists like Maskiri. Actually Maskiri once said, -Eminem is the American Maskiri- (The Sunday mail: 12 June 2004) The terms rap and rap music are often used to describe hip hop music; the terms rap music and hip hop music are generally synonymous, although rap music is sometimes used to describe hip hop songs without vocals. Hip hop music is also erroneously used at times to describe related genres of music, such as contemporary R&B, which are primarily sung, probably for increasing their commercial appeal; while singing is commonly present in hip hop tracks, the main vocal (if there are vocals) is always rapped.
This background from which hip-hop originates has undertones of the social conditions and values of the people. That is why we have themes like violence, it is because it is a scapegoat of the general ills of black communities and the general moral decay of American societies. According to Sollonzo (2004:35) hip-hop music can be considered an important step in the history of music because, for the first time, non-tonal aspects of speech, its emphasis and lyrism, are the most identifiable aspects of its vocalizations. However, taken together, its inter-textuality provides it with multiple intricate registers of meaning not easily discernable to a common observer. According to a research by The Journal of Popular Culture (Vol 38,No 6,2005), its regional similarities (in America) contributes to its national racial identity, although there are remarkable differences in each region’s idioms, narrative forms, construction of masculinities and femininities, and rhythmatic nuances. Therefore hip-hop is rooted in African-American culture. Accordingly, it consists of four elements: Djing, Emceeing, graffiti, and breakdancing. Even though, it consicts of many styles and sub-genres as it is combined with rock music, reggae and other music styles. (www.wikipedia.com) Now the hip-hop genre has now been internationalized, so many people in different countries now do rap music. It seems now; hip-hop music is synonymous with violence, vulgar and obscene language and gangsterism. It now insists on rebellion especially if one listens to the songs of Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. Allyene (2000:17) sees it as a protest against White supremacy.
In urban grooves music some critics have been arguing that some aspects of hip-hop music are reflected, which makes one question whether urban grooves music is truly Zimbabwean music considering the music’s cultural setting. Maskiri is one of those musicians who have been accused of imitating Eminem and hip-hop music in general. In this research the researcher will analyze many aspects of Maskiri’s music from rhythm, lyrical content, themes, attire and extra-linguistic features like facial expressions vis–vis Western musicians, and in this case Eminem and Tupac Shakur. Maskiri never made any videos of his songs, but the researcher will use the videos of national music galas which Maskiri participated in. Many say he is controversial, with a view to his lyrics and behaviour. Xtra Large’s music is mainly based on social commentary, though they have been accused of using obscene language which denigrates women.
This chapter will deal on the whole aspect of urban grooves music vis–vis globalization and cultural imperialism. Hip-hop music is the main focus.
4.2 THEMATIC ANALYSIS
4.2.1 CELEBRATION OF VIOLENCE
One of the concurrent themes in both hip-hop and urban grooves music is the theme of violence, in which violence is glorified. The music of Maskiri is actually full of images of violent behaviour, something which is alien to our society. Hip-hop poster boy 50 Cent appears on the cover of Rolling Stone with the caption “Mastering The Art of Violence.” -When everyone else is talking about violence and riches, it’s tough to talk about more cerebral issues without being laughed at by your peers and being called soft. It is more difficult to try and make the masses buy it,” 50 Cent defends himself/ However, when the likes of Maskiri sing about violence in their music, it seems they would be misreading their context. The theme of violence permeates most of hip-hop music today. It is linked to drug use and dealings in drugs. Violence is part of hip-hop culture and American culture in general, but here in Zimbabwe, its different. Violence is one aspect of social ills and part of socially unacceptable behaviour in Zimbabwe.
In the song, -Hutsinye-, Maskiri says
-Inoita here muface wangu (Is this proper, my friend)
Chimoko chandakakanda paden pangu (The girl I threw in my house (married)
Ndasvika ndaona mukadzi achibvisa hembe, mukadzi wangu (I arrived to discover a woman removing her clothes, my wife)
Ndatenderera, ndobva ndatora simbi yangu (I went around and took my metal bar)
Unondisungira zvinhu but – ndoda kumbokurova (You bind things for me(refuse sexual intercorse) – I would like to beat you up)
Iwe zvese nabhambu wako iyeye muri two (You and your man, the two of you.)
Ndobva taposa tauraya, tatanga kutswanya mazino (We almost killed them, we started by crushing the teeth)
Ndobva tapisa mapictures emuchato We burnt the wedding pictures)
Ndobva ndatora ring yangu, ivo vachirwadziwa. (I took my ring with them still in pain-.)
In this song, Maskiri celebrates violence as a normal way of life. Though it happens in society that sometimes women are promiscuous, beating up the wife is not condoned in society. In this case, Maskiri advocates for violence against women in his music yet in our culture there are clear-formed channels of dealing with this situation. There are the elders in the family who are capable of dealing with these kinds of situations. However, here Maskiri looks at the situation from the point of view of someone who has been wronged, a man who has found his beloved wife in the matrimonial bed with another man. In reality and in certain situations what Maskiri does is the first instinct of many, a man in Zimbabwe does. There is nothing new in the situation that Maskiri presents but the tone by which he says it, will point out that Maskiri advocates for this as the ideal solution, which is wrong. Violence is not the solution in a marriage.
While Maskiri deals with violence in the marriage context, in American culture and music, violence is embedded in the society of Americans. While violence is a social reality, it must not be encouraged just as Maskiri and Eminem are doing. America glamorizes behaviours which are deemed as socially unacceptable, something which is different from Zimbabwean context.
In his song -Death Around the Corner-, Tupac sings:
-I am tired of getting ripped off by guys like that I want his family dead; I want his house burned to the ground I want to get there in the middle of the night I wanna piss on his head –. I want him dead, I don’t care- (Resurrection Soundtrack :2003)
Human life is valued so much in our Zimbabwean society, for Maskiri to present life as worthless is a mockery of the reality of our society. Maskiri apparently borrowed this concept of violence in his music from hip-hopmusic.
According to Smitherman (1997:51) -America for all her protest against violent rap lyrics has failed to acknowledge her role in the creation of this relatively new art form. Evidence of America’s preoccupation with violent activity is pervasive and can be found in virtually all of the entertainment industry. As a result of its prevalence in music, movies television and video games, America has nurtured an environment that some have come to call the culture of violence. (Smitherman 1997:51) Accordingly, rap music is not a genre created solely for profit. Deprivation and unequal opportunities nurtured the hopelessness, distrust and early death depicted in Tupac Shakur’s lyrics (Potter 1995:13). When Maskiri takes wholesale the concept of violence from American music it is a gross misreading of his context. Globalization has made it possible for the youths to watch and access movies and videos which portray life on the negative side such that they do not value life. In his song -Hutsinye-, beating up a wife is presented as heroic yet the opposite is true. In trying to court controversy, Maskiri chose to dwell on issues which are far-fetched and rare because these are isolated incidents for a man to use a crow bar to discipline his wife. Our society already regards promiscuity in marriage as a social ill but those are not stories which one can hear everyday so there is no reason for emphasizing them. -Hutsinye- can not be said to be social commentary because the advice is on the negative side of life, already because he trivializes life. In hip-hop music, singing about violence is a way of protest against the mainstream society. However in Zimbabwe one can not protest against a society which already abhors violence. What Maskiri is upholding is the American culture, what he forgets is that American musicians are doing this for a reason.
According to Richardson (2002:34):
-America’s urban centers in general and low-income minority communities in particular are replete with poverty, police brutality, drug abuse, educational inequality, high drop out rates and violence. The very governmental and social systems theoretically established to protect the poor have engendered distrust. A sense of powerlessness to change conditions grounded in complex social political and economic issues has led artists to seek ways to express their discontent. Rap music became a cathartic outlet-.
In the case of America musicians, rap music becomes a form of social commentary. Tupac became victim of the very violence he depicted in his music thereby becoming a rap icon. While violence is part of many black youths who grow up in urban slums, the case is different from here in Zimbabwe. According to Stokes (1994:2) music is not a thing, which happens in society, a society can also be usefully conceived as something which happens in music. In Maskiri’s music there is no concept of society. Music should evoke collective memories and present experiences of place with intensity, power and simplicity unmatched by any other social activity. It also organizes hierarchies of a moral and political order (Stokes 1994:3). Music becomes socially meaningful because it can provide means by which people recognize identities and sometimes to make distinctions between -us- and -them-. Music should therefore make us different from other people. Though there are socially relevant points of intersection points of departure should be clearly shown.
There is an over-representation of the criminal aspects of black American youth culture in music of many urban grooves musicians like Maskiri and Nasty-Trix among others. There is misrepresentation of black youth in Zimbabwe, they neglect the young Zimbabwean youth who just goes to church with his grandmother, it’s like as if each and every youth is doing it. There is no story about the positive aspects of black youth in Zimbabwe. They generalize issues without looking at other social truths. -In American black youth music, that’s where you get the materialism, the guns, and the absolute die-hard mentality for meaningless things. So if you add all those things to the history of black people in general, then you get a very bad mix. Giant record companies have made huge profits selling ghetto culture to the American mainstream. The drug trade and violence is dominating the ghettos. Then you have corporate America that makes a ton of money off of the culture that dominates within the ghettos. This is unprecedented. That’s the dominant reason why the music is the way it is-. (
For Maskiri to glorify violence and drug taking in his music is like taking all what is bad in America and try to transplant it on our Zimbabwean society. Maskiri uses the criminal element in the music of Eminem, 50 Cent and many other hip-hop artists to market his music, yet in our African culture criminality is abhorred and looked down upon. In the end his music becomes meaningless to many Zimbabwean people, because one of the main functions of music is to educate but in this case music is used to promote anti-social behaviour. But then you have the -Cop Killer’ song by Ice-T and it’s dangerous and threatening.
According to Rhymes (2007:5), -corporate media continue to attempt to divert attention from long-established institutional sexism, in order to depict Black youth culture as the vector of the disease. The American reality is one of pervasive celebration of violence, in general, and violence against women, in particular. Black rappers, who are owned and controlled by white corporations, did not create this culture of violence and misogyny, but are made the scapegoats for a much deeper national social crisis – a landscape in which The Godfather and Goodfellas are revered as “classic” films-. What is a national crisis in America is just imported into the music of Maskiri to the extent that the difference between Maskiri and many a hip-hop musician is not clarified. Maskiri therefore becomes a cultural implant of American cultural values especially black American youths’ values. His music does not negotiate the difference between him and Eminem or 50 Cent. The problem with Maskiri is that he actually stereotypes Zimbabwean society as inherently violent, which is actually a gross exaggeration of socio-cultural values in our society. The misogyny, homophobia and glorified violence in American society and popular culture is being taken out of context by urban grooves musicians. – If anyone really wants to see rampant white sexual behavior, allthey have to do is to take a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or Padre Island, Texas, to see the corporate (usually beer company) sponsored wet t-shirt contests and strip shows for and by white college students, the de rigueur wild drunkenness and carefree drug use, let alone the promiscuous stranger pick-ups and sexual free-for-alls back at the hotels. This involves mostly white late-teen and 20-something kids – male and female-. ()”>>) For Maskiri to glorify sex especially in the song -Zimhamha’(Sugar Mummy), is a pure imitation of American culture where sex is talked of openly.
4.2.2 PROMISCUITY, SEX AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
In our African societies promiscuity is not encouraged especially for married women, it becomes a moral evil. It should not be taken for granted, therefore that people are promiscuous. However, this different in the music of Maskiri. Promiscuity becomes part and parcel of normal life and he encourages it. In the song -Mbira dzaMaskiri-, he sings:
-Vamwe varume vanondivenga (Some men hate me)
Nokuti vanoziva kuti ndinovatorera vakadzi vavo (Because they know I take away their wives from them-.)
While it is true that one can be hated for proposing love to one’s wife, yet it is socially deplorable for one to blame a married man for being angry when his wife is committing adultery. It defies all logic that Maskiri has the guts to say that he is hated because he is being adulterous with someone’s wife. In Maskiri’s music, what is normal is subverted and turned upside down. In all cultures, marriage is scared. For one to make fun of an issue which is the locus point of any community in the world is a gross distortion of social reality. Maskiri’s music elicits gross immaturity. It is actually a taboo in society for one to go around claiming to be in a relationship with somebody’s wife. The theme of Eminem’s song -Stan- also revolves around promiscuity and he says:
-I never knew my father neither He always used to cheat on my mom an beat her- (Curtain Call album:2005)
This actually happened as he shows on his autobiographical film -8 miles-. However, in Maskiri’s case, he places himself as the center of attention, always being the clever guy who -takes- other people and always gets away with it. While this kind of fantasy appeals to the younger generation, risky and socially unacceptable behaviour is never part f our cultural identity.
It is far too simplistic to portray artists, as perpetrators of behaviours deemed socially deviant without placing the artists and their life experiences context. Rap music is one example and expression of the culture of violence. One of the reasons why rap music has captured the attention of youths worldwide across distinctions of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic class and catapulted its progenitors to wealth is because of teen identification with lyrics that appear to be grounded in the features of adolescent identity development. Youths look for models to shape their behaviour and values. (Cavallaro 2002:34). Given the hours of exposure to real and fictitious characters engaging in violence, violent escapades and anti-social behaviour some people come to believe violence is not only -normal- but also admirable. His role models are mainly Western musicians. Maskiri says he gets inspiration from the likes of Nas, Escobar, Mob Deep and Extra Large. (The Herald 24 January 2004) This raises important issues about identity.
Even though one should understand that Maskiri is singing of violence in the context of -life situations in Zimbabwe’. -I sing about what people are afraid of speaking- (The Sunday Mail:12 June 2005). However, when he says in the song -Mbira dzaMaskiri-.
-Ini ndinotopenga, miyedzo ndinotoilavha (I am very crazy, and I really love temptations)
Ende ndinotopenga, kuuraya munhu handitomboramba (I am really mad, I won’t refuse to kill a person-)
this is not what people fear to say, but is very unnecessary to be said. Many people kill for money but there is no point in glorifying it. According to Fred Zindi (interview: 12 May 2007) for Maskiri to glorify violence is going against the virtues of our society, to have -unhu-, in the end his music becomes meaningless to our people in society. Maskiri promotes life on the negative side. Maskiri has evil arrogance. What we can end up having is a society without any moral and ethical values. Maskiri fantasizes a lawless society just like Tupac who considered himself an -outlaw-. In his song -Outlaw’he sings
-Outlaw, Outlaw, Outlaw (They came in to sin) Outlaw, Outlaw, Outlaw (Dear God, I wonder could you save me?) [Tupac] Before I close my eyes I fantasize I’m livin well when I awake and realize I’m just a prisoner in hell Just as well, cause in my cell I’m keepin pictures of these bastards Excersisin, visualizin, everyone inside a casket Picture me blasted, surrounded by niggaz in masks Sent with the task to harass and murder my ass Will I last? Heaven or Hell? Freedom or jail? Shit’s hard, who can you tell? And if we fail? High speeds, and thai weed on the freeway When will they learn to take it easy? Uh Drivebys and niggaz die, murder without a motive by making mother******* fry Got me runnin from these coward-a** crooked-a** cops Helicopters tryin to hover over niggaz til we drop ot no time for the courts, my only thought is open fire Hit the district attorney, but f*** that bitch, cause she’s a lie-
In trying to rebel against society’s values, Maskiri risks loss of identity in his music. Most of his music is just fantasy. By using the first person -I-, Maskiri emphasizes individualism rather than community. Maskiri speaks at individual level rather than at society, he can not be the voice of the voiceless. In trying to be different from his own society he becomes a pariah. In Zimbabwe we have a culture of respect and stability driven by beliefs, behaviors, habits, traditions, morals, and values To sing a song means to be understood, if his music cannot be understood, then it becomes meaningless. Individualism itself is part of American culture. Most hip-hop artists use the first person -I- in their music as a symbol of individualism and freedom of expression. While it is not wrong to use the pronoun -I- in his music, the problem comes when the pronoun -I- alienates him from his cultural values. When Maskiri says:
(-Miyedzo ndinoilavha-) -I love temptations-,
He is speaking on behalf of himself than of his society.According to Chezet (2007:87) promiscuity is a social ill in America just as anywhere in the world, but in hip-hop music promiscuity is always associated with the pleasures of secrecy, outwitting somebody and the ideology of rebelling against what society values. According to Sollonzo (2007:95) rebellion itself is part of American culture, the American Republican government marketed Eminem and his music in the Middle East thereby making him a cultural icon and making rebellion part of America youths’ values.While rebellion against cultural values can be fashionable in countries like America, here in Zimbabwe our cultural values are still intact. According to Rose (1994:36),
-Some musicians are overwhelmed by the consciousness of other music they struggle to make any sense of them and incorporate them, in the end they make the whole thing complex and difficult to understand. The idea of the pleasure of unexpected juxtapositions sometimes serves the purpose of achieving meaningless..-
Maskiri shocks people by some of the issues he sings about because they are too secular to be understood by everyone. Our Zimbabwean society is predominantly composed of mainly Christians and those who believe in African traditional religion (Kusangaya 1984:37). Both groups’ values do not promote promiscuity. Maskiri seems to live in his own world. In response to accusations of singing about issues far removed from our cultural identity Maskiri defended himself saying:
-In my music, I always try to be different, my style is unique-. I shock people by singing what they do not expect. I am tired of the songs of praise, I sometimes look at the other side of life especially the tingling sensation and joy of doing what many people think is bad (The Standard :13 July 2005).
However, in trying to be different Maskiri loses his cultural setting. The setting of what he sings about happens is in his head only. Even though, his music carries the contradictory tendencies of society as a whole. People think different things and nobody can blame them. According to Hall and Jefferson (2006:87), subcultures always borrow from the dominant cultures, inflecting and inverting its signs to create a bricolage in which signs of the dominant culture are there and recognizable as such, but constituting a new and different whole. This is what Maskiri’s music is like. In trying to be unique, Maskiri is consciously reproducing the dominant ideologies of the culture of other people. It may not be his fault because most of the youths were socialized in a society very much influenced by global images in televisions and on Internet and movies do the same. However, his freedom of speech becomes too much as it goes over cultural boundaries of acceptance. While American youths especially those who are poor, get money through gangsterism, Maskiri points out the bad in our society especially witchcraft. So many stories of people who use goblins have appeared in the newspapers, so goblins become a reality of Shona cultural belief. In his songs -Madam Mombeshora’, -Hutsinye’(Cruelty) and -Zimhamha’(Sugar mummy), Maskiri promotes violence against women, in which women are seen as sexual objects, the main theme is about sex with a sugar mummy (Zimhamha). While in our society, promiscuity is not condoned Maskiri actually promotes it. This makes him to be no different from the likes of Justin Timberlake in their songs especially his hit song -Sexy Back’ which goes on like this:
– I’m bringing sexy back Them other boys don’t know how to act I think your special what’s behind your back So turn around and I’ll pick up the slack Them other f**kers don’t know how to act Come let me make up for the things you lack Cause you’re burning up I gotta get it fast!- Or, there’s other song lyrics, -She’s hopped up on me Her body’s pressed up on me I think she’s ready to blow Baby all you gotta do is Just tell me which way you like that.- Or, -She’s freaky and she knows it / She’s freaky and I like it.- Or, -Well I’mma freak you right, each and every night.-
Some of the songs which are sexually explicit and denigrate women are -Can You Control Yo Hoe- and -Break a Bitch Til I Die,- by Snoop Dogg, formerly Snoop Doggy Dogg. In Zimbabwean youth like the likes of Maskiri this can be the result of advertising seen on many commericials from America and Europe, many of the commercial adverts which assert patriarchal attitudes and debase women. Sex is romanticized and appealing such that many youths in third world countries wish they could also do it in their respective countries, hence the likes of Maskiri are coming up with this kind of lyrical obscenity.
4.2.3CONSUMERISM AND MATERIALISM
According to Sollonzo (2007:34) -The late 1990s saw the rise in popularity of the “bling bling” lifestyle in rap music, focusing on symbols of wealth and status like money, jewelry, cars, and clothing. Although references to wealth have existed since the birth of hip hop, the new, intensified “bling bling” culture has its immediate roots in the enormously commercially successful late-to-mid nineties work (specifically, music videos) of Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records as well as Master P’s No Limit Records. However, the term was coined in 1999 (see 1999 in music) by Cash Money Records artist B.G. on his single Bling Bling, and the Cash Money roster were perhaps the epitome of the ” bling bling” lifestyle and attitude.
Though many rappers, mostly gangsta rappers, unapologetically pursue and celebrate bling bling, others, mostly artists outside of the hip hop mainstream, have expressly criticized the idealized pursuit of bling bling as being materialistic- The sometimes egotistic and degenerate attitudes often portrayed in the lyrics and videos of certain hip hop artists have shown negative effects on some of their idolizing fans especially in the music of urban grooves musicians. One can give the example of Xtra Large, who said their music is similar to that of hip-hop artists because they grew up listening to many Rhythm and Blues musicians like Tupac, Dr Dre among others.
A simple look at the cover of their album “Small House” will confirm that. While the attitudes of specific artists certainly do not represent the rest of the hip hop or urban grooves community, however the effect of lyrical content on youths who are part of the hip hop acculturation is debatable, very often such youths adopt the much glamourized “gangsta” persona while not being members of any gang. Often these personas incite anti-social behavior such as peer harassment, neglect towards education, rejection of authority, and petty crimes such as vandalism. While the majority of listeners are able to distinguish entertainment from lessons in social conduct, an evident pseudo-gangsta sub-culture has risen amongst many urban grooves youths.
Since the mid-1980s rap music has greatly influenced both black and white culture in North America. Much of the slang of hip-hop culture, including such terms as -dis, fly, def, chill, and wack’, have become standard parts of the vocabulary of a significant number of young people of various ethnic origins. Many rap enthusiasts assert that rap functions as a voice for a community without access to the mainstream media. According to advocates, rap serves to engender self-pride, self-help, and self-improvement, communicating a positive and fulfilling sense of black history that is largely absent from other American institutions. The glamour and -bling bling’ that is shown in many videos of urban grooves musicians is a reminder of its origin in hip-hop music in America.
Kanye West’s album, “College Drop Out”, has a track called “Breathe in, Breathe Out”. During the song West rhymes:
Golly more of that bullshit ice rap I got to apologize to Mos (Def) and (Talib) Kweli But is it cool to rap about gold If I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali? First ni**a with a Benz and a backpack Ice chain, Cartier lens, and a napsack Always said if I rapped I’d say something significant But now I’m rappin’ ’bout money, hoes, and rims again And it’s still about the Benjamins (College Drop Out:2003)
These lyrics exemplify urban life in Black American communities, all across America. Kanye is not actually taking a stand against materialism but he is highlighting it.
4.2.4 REBELIOUSNESS AND NORMLESSNESS
According to Firth (1987:149), what music can do is to put into play a sense of identity that may or may not fit well the way we are put by other social facts. The culture of hip-hop has become the nexus from which the youth, particularly lower income black youngsters can create their values, define their selfhood, and express their heightened consciousness of violence and its implications against a social backdrop that has historically devalued colour and contributions of black people (Smithermann :1997:56) Violence, misogyny, and drug-use are all part of the gangster mentality of many black American youths. These kind of lyrics are associated with the likes of Ice-T who sang -Cop Killer’. Tupac Shakur says in his song, “Loyal to the game”
“I got some killas on my payroll and they know When its time to handle business nigga lay low Although I’m young I’m still comin up I’m gettin paid pullin razors on niggas when they runnin up The first to pull the strap when theres drama Buster you ain’t heard? I been slicin motherfuckers since I lost my mama There ain’t a cop that can stop me My posse is cocky and they don’t wait until they drop me I’m loyal to the game I do my thing respect my hustle I ain’t playin (Nigga I’m loyal to the game) You get in my way and I cock and pop that thing (Man I’m loyal to the game) If you know what I know then you know I ain’t playin(I’m loyal to the game) Nigga get in my way and I’ll blow out your brain” (Loyal To The Game: 2004)
However, Maskiri is different from the likes of Tupac because his lyrics are a bit toned down. Maskiri’s lyrics are not as dangerous and threatening as those of the likes of Eminem, Ice-T, Tupac or 50 Cent. When Maskiri sings about drugs, it would be not-so-harmful drugs like mbanje/marijuana. When many rap musicians sing about drugs, they would be referring to very dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin. In the above song by Tupac, the tone is serious and this leaves one with the feeling that he had the capability to do it. The problem with Maskiri is that one never knows whether he means what he is singing or not. What is supposed to be humour is just juxtaposed with seriousness. In the song , -Mbira dzaMaskiri’, he sings:
” Ndine chikwambo chiri paden,chinodimbura misoro yevanhu (I have got a goblin at my house which cut people’s heads)
Saka tobva tanotengesa kana kuchinjisa kuJoza (For sale or exchange in Jo’burg)
ndinotamba njuga pamwechete nokusvuta fodya (I gamble, together with smoking)
Kana ari mukadzi, ndinoita muprofita wenhema (If it’s a woman I pretend to be a prophet)
Murume wacho ndikamuvhoisira anozochema (If I threaten the husband, he can cry)
Ndikamutema nebhodhoro, anosonwa mastich (If I hit him with a bottle, he will be stitched (on the wound)
Ndotanga kumuseka, ndine freedom of speech (Then I laugh at him, I have got freedom of speech)
Vakomana vamazuva ano havazi bho-o, ava makwayi ane nguwo dzewaya (The youths of today are not alright, they are sheep in clothes of wire)
Vanoshereketa, vanemisikanawa, kana vabereki havachateerera (They are wayward, they do not even listen to their parents”)
In this way Maskiri is true to his context, he does not refer to any guns. He uses the pronoun -I’ to refer to some social issues in society, of men who pretend to be prophets in order to lure women into sex. The use of goblins is part of the witchcraft associated with our culture, but Maskiri’s message is lost in bragging about all this, such that it becomes meaningless to listen to music which concentrates on negative social issues considering that his target in his music are the youth. By encouraging rape of women, his music lacks any moral, ethical or social values of our society. One of the functions of music is to educate, yet Maskiri’s music is the epitome of the gross exaggeration about our cultural values. In the skit, he says
– Madzihwa promotions inokupakurirai live bash kumba kwaMaskiri (Madzihwa promotions present to you a live bash at Maskiri’s house)
Pfambi,hwahwa, zvose zvinenge zviriko,.. tuvana twechikoro,hwahwa) (Prostitutes, beer, all will be there, …school children, beer)
Mbanje, mapiritsi anodhaka (Marijuana and intoxication pills-)
In the skit, Maskiri lists all social ills and encourages people to participate in them. This is a vain attempt at uniqueness and controversy by the artist. Maskiri tries to discredit his music by singing nonsense. He is no different from Eminem who sings in an almost identical way in hios song, -Role model’
- I came to the club with a fake ID Don’t you wanna grow up to be just like me! I’ve been with 10 women who got HIV Now don’t you grow up to be just like me I got genital warts and it burns when I pee’ (Encore: 2004)
By singing all aspects of anti-social behaviour, Maskiri and Eminem are just trying to sell their music by being unconventional. This shows a cynical attitude to life prevalent among many, a hip-hop artist. Many artists are like children, and most will say and do what is not expected of them in order to benefit financially. There is definite self-examination that needs to take place within the artist community, the lion’s share of the blame falls also on the enablers who only empower voices of negativity. Their music is hedonistic, a doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. There is absence of any commitment to kids or family – thugs just don’t really care, this is the kind of behaviour one sees in the music of Maskiri.
But truth of the matter is that people want to be loved. Even 50 Cent says: -I want them to love me like they loved Tupac. But we loved Pac because he was a conflicted soul that represented the war of Armageddon going on inside of our own minds. Sometimes he was for the Black freedom struggle (“Changes”) and sometimes he was the antithesis of it (“America’s Most Wanted”). Sometimes he was for Black women (“Keep Ya Head Up”) and the next thing you know, we were all groupie bitches that just wanted him for sex or money (“I Get Around”). But I know that Tupac wanted to be loved and he knows that somebody did love him (“Dear Mama”). (www.africaresource.com)
Maskiri wants to be loved and appreciated by people, just as they do in America, but he forgets that, in Africa, our music is always rooted in our way of life, and what he sings about is not our way of life.
In many of his songs, Maskiri encourages promiscuity, and many issues which the society considers social ills. His song’Mbira dzaMaskiri’, goes on like this:
-ini ndinotopenga, ende miyedzo ndinotoilavha handitomboramba-varume vanondivenga vanoziva kuti ndinovatorera vakadzi vavo Tuma-underage ndinotunyenga-
(-I am crazy and I love temptations I wont refuse-men who hate/jealousy me know that I take away their wives I propose love even to the under-aged…-)
P> Such are the lyrics of Maskiri, such that many think he is a cultural misfit. In our Shona culture, promiscuity is not encouraged and it is a taboo to propose love to a married woman. However, here Maskiri projects this as a point of pride, which everybody must emulate. The point Maskiri is making is that he does not care for other people’s feelings which is in sync with the spirit of individualism projected by many an American artist. When he says: -tuma under-age ndinotunyenga -(I propose love even to the under-aged ), this shows the immaturity of an artist who want to make sense of nonsense. In this case, proposing love to the under-aged means literally sleeping with young girls, which is called statutory rape under the law. He is trying to be an outlaw, since he knows that it is something not allowed under the Zimbabwean law. He seems trying to be an outlaw of the model of the likes of Tupac Shakur. Sometimes it baffles the mind that Maskiri would literally complain that men are jealousy of his prowess in getting their wives. These are some of the American values that are reflected in our urban grooves music today. According to Salifor (2005:34), some White men actually exchange wives for a few days just for the fun of it. However in the Zimbabwean cultural context this is a taboo. One is left with the feeling that what Maskiri is singing is hardly real, just fantasy. This -I-do-what-I-want’ attitude is also found in the music of Eminem, this idea of being a cultural rebel and expressing yourself in any way. It becomes music for music’s sake. The anti-social -The way I am – by Eminem goes like this:
-I’m not Mr. N’Sync, I’m not what your friends think I’m not Mr. Friendly, I can be a prick If you tempt me my tank is on empty (is on empty).. No patience is in me and if you offend me I’m liftin you 10 feet (liftin you 10 feet).. in the air I don’t care who is there and who saw me destroy you Go call you a lawyer, file you a lawsuit I’ll smile in the courtroom and buy you a wardrobe I’m tired of arguin’ (of arguin’).. I don’t mean to be mean but that’s all I can be is just me- (CurtainCall:2005)
The music of both Eminem and Maskiri enunciates a language of radical social critique and the idea of always being a public enemy, just being against everyone. However in Zimbabwe, those issues are out of context since hip-hop music is rooted in the cultural tradition of being dispossessed and express anger at the perceived enemy. Maskiri use the hip-hop ideology of the likes of Eminem and Tupac of being against everything and everyone.
However, one can not simply dismiss Maskiri’s music as mere hogwash. His music has a cultural setting in Zimbabwe and he sings about what is happening in Zimbabwe, only that he borrows a foreign style in critiquing the characteristics of the social life of many Zimbabweans nowadays. a language of radical social critique, in the spirit of Public Enemy.
4.3 INFLUENCE OF WESTERN HIP-HOP MUSIC
Maskiri has always been accused of imitating Eminem in his music especially on the use of obscenities, their unlimited freedom of expression, utter disregard for society’s values and denigration of women.
4.3.1 Use of obscenities in the language of Maskiri and Eminem
In their music, both Eminem and Maskiri use vulgar language. Probably it is a way of marketing their music. Many musicians feel they can justify the use of obscenities by putting an explicit language tag which reads: -Musateerera nevabereki zvinonyangadza- on the sleeve of the albums but many people still feel its wrong for radio stations to play music with explicity language. Some of the music used by the likes of Maskiri denigrates women especially the song -Zimhamha-(Sugar Mummy) where he says:
-Uri mwana Maskiri (You are too young Maskiri)
Zvemakore hazvina basa sugar mummy x 2 (Age doesn’t matter)
Rudo injuga semakasi (Love is a form of gambling)
Ndiri zimhamha-a-a Zi sugar mummy (I am a sugar-mummy, A big sugar mummy )
Chembere mukadzi hazvienzani nehanzvadzi (An old woman is a better than my own sister)
Zviri nani sugar mummy mukaita rangu gadzi (It’s better for you sugar mummy to become my wife)
Ndoita bhuru, imi moita mombe hadzi (I will be the bull and you will be the heifer.-)
In this song, Maskiri uses obscene language not expected in society. By promoting sexual intercourse with older women (sugar-mummy) Maskiri goes against the norms and values of society. According to Gelfand (199:38) the issue of young women ad men being involved with older men and women came with urbanization and the so-called modernity. In Shona societies, children are taught good manners from a young age.
According to Mutsvairo (ed) (1996:52) -High morality is upheld in indigenous African homes and societies. People are encouraged to do -good’ and chastised for -wrong’ doing. The culturally defined -goodness’ in indigenous African societies include undertaking errands with pleasure, upholding the spirit of industry, cherishing -truth’ having respect for life and properly constituted authority, promoting honesty, integrity, accountability, responsibility, hospitality, selflessness, virtuousness, generosity, reciprocity, neatness and courage-.
In Shona societies sex, which is the basis for continuity of life, is given a sacred place in marriage. However, in the music of Maskiri sex is taken as a form pleasure without any clear purpose. According to Masasire in Mutsvairo (1996:53) in Shona culture a girl should not allow a man to touch her shoulders, and neither should the same happen to a boy. It is a taboo. Those morals are reinforced with folktales. Such is the warning of society. However, in the song -Zimhamha- (Sugar mummy), it is actually Maskiri who negotiates for sex. The language used by Maskiri is full of sexual undertones and metaphors referring to sex like when he sings:
-Ndoita bhuru, imi moita mombe hadzi- (I will be the bull and you become the heifer.)
In our society, talking about sex is a cultural taboo. It cannot be said so easily just like that. As part of cultivating -unhu- good personality there is actually what is called sex education. Being taught sexual tactics by a sugar-mummy is out of our cultural context. -Unhu- is attained by one’s plausible performance of one’s roles in society. In singing about sex Maskiri depicts lack of -unhu- (good cultural manners).
Maskiri is actually trying to be like Eminem who sings about killing his wife and uses unprintable words in his lyrics especially in his song -Just Don’t Give A F *** where he says:
-Go run and tell your friends my s** is wack I just don’t give a f*** But see me on the street and duck Straight From The Lab EP: 2004)
In using sexually explicit language Maskiri is actually copying Eminem. However, most of the explicitness of his language is hidden in the use of metaphors and symbols, which refer to sex. In almost all of his songs, Eminem always uses the words -f*** or motherf***-. The idea of a society, which does not respect women and sees them as sexual objects is foreign. Maskiri also uses sexually explicit language in his song -Madam Mombeshora- even though one can urge that Maskiri’s language in his music is not sexually explicit but sexually suggestive. He does not use many of the words the likes of Eminem or most hip-hop artists use. Even though, Maskiri talks of love which is sexual in its nature, instead of agape love advocated by many in society. His kind of love can be said to be narcissistic – excessive love or admiration of oneself; a psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.
Both Maskiri and Eminem are deemed controversial by their societies. This is so because of their radical lyrics with focus on anti-social behaviour. Besides, they concur on themes like violence, promiscuity, treatment of women as sexual objects and individualization. Their use of language as a tool for gross self-expression is also one remarkable similarity in their music particularly their use of vulgar and obscenities.
Apart from the above similarities one can also find out that some titles of songs by Eminem is similar to the titles of songs by Maskiri. For example the song -Evil Deeds- by Eminem is similar to Maskiri’s -Mabasa Erima- (Works of the dark world) in the Shona language. Eminem mentions other artists in his music, mainly as a way to diss them especially in the song -My name is-, where he signs:
-But I can’t figure out which Spice Girl to impregnate And Dr Dre said -Slim Shady you a base head- Curtain Call :2005)
Maskiri does the same though in a neutral tone, in the song -Ndakafa- (I died) where he says
-VaElias Musakwa ndakasangana nemumwe musikana (Mr Elias Musakwa, I met this girl MaJo’burg)
Elias Musakwa is a respected Church Pastor in Zimbabwe.
In the skit -Christian FM-, Maskiri actually pokes fun at Pastor Stanley Gwanzura who is a gospel singer when he says -:
VOICE OF DJ: Ende nziyo dzenyu dzinoti maslang (And your songs are full of slang)
Maskiri replies:Unoziva chi-i, ukabvunza Pastr G-String Mwari, so (You know what, even if you ask Pastor G-String, God so)
Mwari – e- vanonzwa zvose zvaunosasa, even (God hears everything you say, even)
Ukasasa nesign language (if you speak in sign language.)
Attacking each other in songs, which are sung, is all part of American culture particularly in hip-hop music. In Zimbabwe, most artists do not use unveiled attacks on each other. It is never as clear as Maskiri shows it to be. While -Blue Movie- is the title of an album by Maskiri, the song -Scary Movie- by Eminem is similar due to the fact that they both refer to movies. And also the arrogance which is synonymous with Eminem is also evident in Maskiri especially in his real life. In his song -The way I am-, Eminem sings
-I’m not Mr N’Sync, I’m not what your friends think I’m not Mr Friendly, I can be a prick no patience is in me and if you offend me I’m lifting you 10 feet in the air’ (Curtain Call :2005)
This whole aspect of arrogance without any humility is part of Maskiri replied saying that, -people do not understand us, but it does not mean that I will stop what I am singing now, I will produce something even worse. That’s our style and nothing can change that (The Manica Post: 6 November 2006). This -I-can-do-anything-attitude- in the music of Maskiri is all part of hip-hop music, which emphasizes rebellion.
4.4 RELIGION IN URBAN GROOVES MUSIC
There is the disregard for religion in hip-hop music. To Maskiri and Eminem their belief in Christianity is mixed with mockery for what Christian values point at. It seems they worship this act of individualism and arrogance. Street lingo is used to describe the greatness of God. Maskiri actually refers to God as -Dhara rangu- (My dear old man). Glory for God is always associated with materialism. In the song, -Criminal (who you thought I was)- Eminem sings:
-Right, Ken? Give me an Amen (AAA-men) Please Lord, this boy needs Jesus Heal this child, help us destroy these demons Oh and please send me a brand new car And a prostitute while my wife’s sick in the hospital-
God is taken as someone who provides and the same God will even provide a prostitute and a brand new car. In his song -Mwari Ngaakoreswe- Maskiri mocks those who go to church and blames God for giving him eyes which are covetous. In the end Maskiri sings what most people believe is blasphemy. For example in the skirt -Christian FM- which is a form of an interview with a disc jockey on radio, Maskiri says:
-D.J. Brown :Zvamunonzi makaonekwa neshamwari yenyu vanonzi Pastor ani gara zviya? (It is said you were seen together with your friend, what is the name of the Pastor by the way? )
Maskiri:G-String (G-String )
DJ Brown:Makaonekwa muchihushapira nemazigadzi, nevanhu vakasarurama (You were seen drinking together with some women, and people of bad moral reputation.)
Maskiri:Yaiva mvura yakasanganiswa, ndakadhailuta (It was mixed water, diluted)
DJ Brown:Ndanzwa kuti mune collaboration yamuchaita naPastor Last. (I heard that you have got a collaboration with Pastor Last.)
Maskiri: Pastor havadi kunamata, pamwe ndinotombovaudza kuti (The Pastor doesn’t want to pray, I sometimes tell him that) handei kuchechi kunonamata, Hatichaita zvataisiita (we need to go to church and pray, we no longer have the old habit) zvekunwa hwahwa, mazifodya nemazigadzi (of drinking beer, smoking and prostitution
DJ Brown: Ndinofunga mafara pano paChristian FM, wenyu I believe you enjoyed here at Christian FM, yours
This shows Maskiri’s lack of a philosophy in his life. He courts controversy, just for the sake of being controversial. He goes to church and at the same time is a drunkard, and actually invites Pastors to church. While it is true that there are some people who are hypocritical Maskiri justifies drinking and justifies going to church in the same way condemns going to church and condemns also drinking beer. In the end, his music lacks any forms of rational meaning, just being against everything and yet doing everything. Even though, this is a reminder to the hypocrisy of some members of our society who lack direction in their lives, whereby good and evil is all part of the normal processes of life.
While Christianity is not part of African traditional religion, it extols the same virtues as our African traditional culture. Gelfand (1973:82) lists the virtues of African religion especially the Shona culture as, truth (kutaura chokwadi), humility (kuzvidukupisa) love (rudo nechido) sympathy (tsitsi) self-discipline (kuzvibata) to forgive (kuregerera) pity (urombo nenyasha) and rectitude (ururami) among other things
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