First View


Heads Up Records is a great supporter of African Jazz/Pop. Most of you  know the Heads Up Africa series  "Smooth Africa I" and "Smooth Africa II", Ladysmith Black Mambazo 's "No Boundaries" or Miriam Makeba's "Reflections". This time Heads Up Records is presenting an artist from Zimbabwe. Oliver Mtukudzi who already announced his US tour will release his 49th album on April 26th 2005.

Heads Up Records comment about this release: "In a recent interview "Tuku," as he is affectionately known, said Nhava is premised on a story about the fortunes or misfortunes of a young person who leaves home in search of a better life overseas. The album is relevant to the Zimbabwean situation where more than three million people have gone into the Diaspora in search of a better living. Nhava explores the effects of migrant labor where families leave their homes in search of greener pastures only to discover that life is not as rosy as they are made to believe. This has already been witnessed by hundreds of Zimbabweans who are being deported on a daily basis from the United Kingdom."

Oliver Mtukudzi is playing a special style of music named after his nick-name "Tuku", guitar riffs combined with Zulu-rhythms and Mbaqanga-choirs of the townships. The title "Nhava" of his debut album at Heads Up Records is named after the Zimbabwean word for "carrying bag". The first song "Ninipa" is his call to Humility, which opens the door of life.

"Izere Mhepo" talks about the misconception among many Zimbabweans, those who went abroad and those remaining behind. Tuku names the Zimbabweans in exile "hunters". The hunters bag (nhava) is empty. As Tuku says, the bag is literally full of air.

"Pindirai" is Oliver Mtukudzi critic about the behavior of his country people chopping down trees recklessly and dumping rubbish in rivers spoiling their natural resources. Oliver Mtukudzi wraps up critical words with intriguing music.

"Menva Kudzimbais" a poetic piece that celebrates the power of unity. Tuku is conjuring comparisons to the African animal world.

Hazvireve is a smoothly re-worked rendition of Tuku's old favorite. It's a song about a father addressing his child he never met. Tuku has contributed music and efforts to many AIDS-projects and documentaries especially in relationship to Childs. He also wrote and directed the musical production "Was My Child" (Plight of the Street Children) in the mid '90s.

Hope is Tuku's reveille for those who have difficulties to leave their beds and go to work. "You have to learn to rise early and work because time does not wait for anyone." Tuku combines repeating guitar riffs with a hypnotic sing-sang to a captivating song.

Tiregerereiwo is a cracking uptempo tune which is already in the South African charts. A typical African song with Tuku's rough vocals, guitars and a driving organ sound.

Handiro Dambudziko is another nicely packed advice: we should attend to the more urgent and dangerous problems instead of rushing to settle minor, less visible ones. Assess, then priotise.

In Tiri Mubindu Tuku is lamenting about the departed loved ones. We are all flowers in God's garden and have to leave it one after another. That's by the way the first song on which I heard a singer's cough. It fitted.

Dzokai is an old song from the Shona culture in a modern dress. Let the new leader take over!

Tozeza (formerly known as Tozeza Baba), is a very sad song about a child complaining the violence of his drunken father. Tuku doesn't hesitate to sing about critical situation and failing humans. I especially like the rhythm part at the end of the song with the booming pot drums.

In the final tune Dzidziso Mtukudzi asks for the Lord to teach him to be thankful and grateful and the courage to say sorry whenever he makes a mistake.

With "Nhava" Oliver Mtukudzi has delivered a great bag (70 minutes) full of advices and practical philosophy well-performed in his own African way.