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The Curious Tale of the Southern African star Diego and his industry

The musical blog bubble is microscopic. There’s an entire galaxy of music being released that doesn’t even clip the distant margins of our radar. And most of it is not good or even worse than that. But artistes get signed to record labels, videos get made and, then, they disappear. But someone is listening. They must be. Take Diego Tryno, for instance. The 15 year old was doing it big getting very light late night rotation on radio Jams and has racked up thousands or so views on YouTube. Diego was the latest young person bred in a lab for a few years and he then thrust into the kiddie rapper cottage industry.

There’s nothing tangibly different from Tryno and those other old rappers because listening to his songs one would wonder why such profanity was able to be recorded by a kid at the first place. His and other kid’s videos had an oddly entrancing effect. Because it’s so much like a regular big kid rap video. They stunting in front of a car that they won’t be able to drive for at least six years. They’re hitting on grown women at Dave & Busters and they are into it. Do they have parents? Do the parents care?

7 years later the now 21 year old Diego Tinotenda Chikombeka seemed to have shifted genres and style. Smiling at us the now Contemporary musician expressed his gratitude in meeting us and he directed us to his manager who just gave us 5 minutes of her ‘busy’ schedule. The story however was not how he was forbade to do music by his parents and how he won a regional award when he was only 15 and not recognised in his own country, how he grew up in Mutare before he moved to Harare, but how African music industry failed to provide a sustainable life for the musicians.

Diego is one of the many Zimbabwean famous musicians who was silent after a year of dominance in southern African countries with his whereabouts the subject of much speculation and rumour. Many following him had already resigned themselves to the fact that they might not see Diego again. So silent had he become that some just assumed that he was already with his maker and others claimed that he had joined the trek outside Zimbabwe’s borders  or across the seas in search of a better life.

‘’Yes, it’s true I have been quiet for the past few years. I have been experiencing some social problems here and there and that is very natural,” Tryno said in an interview.

Ironically Diego, who now famously sing about life situations and life of down and outs who hungered for money above all else in his new music, seemed to be in financially dire straits apart from being famous in other countries such as South Africa and Zambia.

‘’There was a very Anti-Zimbabwe artiste sentiment in South Africa at that time. However we felt like we needed to break that barrier because lot of top artistes in Zimbabwe at that time were from South Africa. The likes of Dj Maphorisa, Casper Nyovest and Mafikizolo had refined their craft in Zimbabwe headlining many shows. “Said Frank Ncobo .                                                                                     

”So through radio and online platforms we marketed Diego Tryno as a South African and sent him to workshops for his personal growth. However, what happened was that Diego decided to tell the world that he was Zimbabwean and became a resident artiste in Harare ,” said Ncobo.                                                                                                                        

This move by Diego was seen as the move which ended his music career. Diego Tinotenda Chikombeka has nothing to show for his dominance in music. However Chikombeka’s case is not an isolated tale of misfortune, but sad reality that both yesteryear and today’s musicians face. Econimist Charles Chizvino said the music industry was being affected by the economic instabilities and it was high time musicians found supplementary income for survival.

“Zimbabwe’s economy is in a period of stagnation and depression and what the musicians are experiencing are ripple effects of a badly damaged economy,” he said.

“Radio stations can’t afford to pay royalties and people or fans are not attending shows because they don’t have the money for entrance fees , it is high time musicians started to diversify from their comfort zones  so that they do not struggle,”

Music promoters have also been accused of taking advantage of the plight of musicians.

The investigations revealed that even big brands like Jah Prayzah’s Military Touch and Third Generations, Alick Macheso’s Orchestra Mberikwazvo band and Sulumani Chimbetu’s Orchestra Dendera Kings band were feeling the economic tremors and shocks.

“The bands are no longer paying and realizing profits as they used to do. The big guns in the industry are also struggling. That is why you see big musicians such as Jah Prayzah being dumped by senior band members because they are failing to pay wages,” a music promoter said.

Jah Prayzah has been deserted by senior band members such as Pamela Zulu — popularly known as Gonyeti  and started her own band and  Braveman Chizvino aka Baba Harare who also started his own band.

Investigations also showed that Utakataka Express frontman who is the son of the late Tongai Moyo, Peter Moyo is struggling to follow his father’s footsteps, with a massive exodus looming after long-term manager Suko Dube left.At one point, Moyo reportedly gave his band members $5 each as weekly allowances,one could say the money couldn’t afford to buy a decent meal for a single person.

The situation has cascaded to the gospel genre, with traditional gospel heavyweights such as Charles and Olivia Charamba as well as Fungisai Mashavave-Zvakavapano, Mercy Mutsvene and Shingisai Suluma failing to attract shows during the past festive season.

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Zimbabwean Dancehall music, which has been on an upward trend, has reached stagnation, with top artists such as Shinsoman, Tocky Vibes and Sniper Storm struggling to secure shows and when they do, it will be for peanuts. “Diego is still young and has a bright future ahead of him in this music industry, money is not everything, if  artistes do music in order to make money ,they will be disappointed in the long run ,music should be motivated by passion and money will follow ,said Trissha Jones

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