ALBUM REVIEW: Zhizha/Time To Sow (2008) - Willis Wataffi
From the glory days of Africa Revenge as a Bulawayo based afro-pop/kwaito outfit with Chengetai and Mehluli 'Tazz' Moyo, Willis Wataffi Kachambwa (affectionately known as Willis Wataffi in music circles) has come a long long way and seen major success as a Zimbabwean musical genius. After Chengetai left Africa Revenge to pursue a successful solo career in South Africa, the remaining 2 left for Harare to carry the Afrika Revenge torch and gave us one of the most successful Afro-pop/Jazz albums to be released in the country, Qaya Muzik (Music From Home). Since then Willis and Tazz have parted ways and it has given birth to the solo career of Willis Wataffi and hence his debut album Zhizha/Time To Sow.
The man has maintained that same Afrika Revenge sound and it comes as no surprise as he kept the whole band as it is minus Tazz of course. It is a very interesting album and the first thing that tickled my fancy was the fact that Willis' multi-lingual capabilities are outstanding and form the benchmark for every song. I can definitely say that many of the lyrics are beyond normal comprehension simply because of that fact. The title track Zhizha/Time To Sow has done very well and it reminds me of the Afrika Revenge hit song Wanga. The lyrics are completely different but that catchy sound still exists. It is a song about grabbing an opportunity with both hands as the title suggests asking us all what are we going to do when things get tough? Arumwa is a jazzy piece that is set on mid-tempo about a family's quest for survival in this cold world with success prompting them to visit the witchdoctors to further their good fortunes. He talks about how some people will stop at nothing to be on top of the world. These words about life are also evident on the track Enchanted Voices.This track is about how us as human still rise beyond cultural barriers or skin colour yet there are still some people who put greed before anything aiming to hinder any of this progress.
On the song MaBrake, Willis truly showed his class, talking about how God has blessed him with this talent and proclaiming that 'Khaya music haina maBrake'. It is true afro-pop with the lead acoustic, bongo and lyrics that are very enjoyable. I hope younger upcoming artists take a page from his book. Rusambo sounds like it is an extension to the story behind Mhoro from the previous Afrika Revenge offering. It is a song about the steps to marriage between a young man and woman so in love vachitamba chikudo with the lyrics 'Iwe mhani iwe, iwe mhani mudiwa wangu' sung in the softest, sweetest way possible. The man is about to pay the bride price and he is excited at spending the rest of his life with his love. The duet with Tererai is simply breathtaking and reminds me of how exciting love can be. This is my favourite song of all on the album and gets my thumbs up any day. The track has already done very well on SpotFM and PowerFM.
The social commentary is established maturely to give the album an exceptional balance of entertainment. I am also a huge fan of the live instruments over computer music. It's no wonder there are so many hits on the project because it is very well done. I don't have much more to add other than that is it simply beautiful. Also watch out for the songs Kanyemere, Vukani Vukani and Chura. I am tempted to highlight that it would be nice if he did not mix languages so much to make it more understandable. He might lose a fan or 2 simply due to the fact that they cannot understand his lyrics. On the other hand i feel that if he changed it would be unfair to his talent and could make him more ordinary than anything. Opinions opinions... But all in all this album is simply outstanding and many jazz fans will love it, think of a younger, multi-lingual Tanga wekwaSando with more vocal finesse, less comical but still entertaining, backed by Jazz Invitation then you get Willis.
Cover Art - 8/10 (i totally dig the Africaness of it)
Music - 8/10 (mature and well done)
Mixing & Mastering - 8/10
I Like Factor - 7/10