Zimdancehall’s Growth Spurred by Demand for Music that Resonates with Daily Struggles

In a sea of poverty, drugs, unemployment and crime, Fantan’s ChillSpot Records has given a voice to young people itching to tell stories of their daily struggles. It is Wednesday at 1pm, and the sounds of Zimdancehall reverberate from his studio in Matapi, Mbare. Music is a huge source of comfort for Zimbabweans, and Zimdancehall, a local adaptation of Jamaican dancehall, grew from a demand for music that resonates with daily struggles. The infectious lyrics – often a lament of life’s challenges, losses and social ills, like the rising drug problem – have become the soundtrack for Zimbabweans. Instead of singing in Jamaican patois, local musicians mainly use Shona, and recently some Ndebele singers have also emerged. A product of back yard studios, Zimdancehall is one of the fastest growing genres in the country. Amid economic hardships, worsened by Covid-19, young people in the townships have found solace in music. Hundreds of home studios have sprouted up across Harare as musicians work overnight, encouraged by success stories from the townships. With no funding to build studios, they use basic recording equipment to create hit songs.

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