Kurai Makore is Dr Thomas Mapfumo incarnate! I use the word incarnate loosely because Mukanya — as Dr Mapfumo is known by his legion of fans the world over — is still alive, but in the twilight of his music career.
I listened to Kurai’s debut album “Gara Unzwe”, again and again. Again and again and again and again. It is spiritual. It is traditional. It’s a marvel. It’s a total package, from the mbira to congas, a shifting tapestry of percussion to a deep voice spiced by eloquent and sweet backing vocals.
Then there are the rich lyrics, timed not to be dwarfed by the instruments, and the effect gives vocal clarity.
A new king of Chimurenga music has indeed arrived.
One just hopes the young man keeps in the lane of music and not putter into the political rantings that his mentor Mukanya found diluting his musical talent.
The old man started well, but later diluted his prolific music career with off-stage political rantings.
But today it is about young Makore.
Because I did not witness the launch of the album late December last year, I cannot talk about his live performance, that will be subject for another instalment when I see him perform live. But with Covid-19 restrictions, it might take long before he can do so.
I will restrict myself to the album review, and I trust my ears when it comes to Chimurenga music.
As I listened to song after song, again and again, I chugged my Coke and said, “Well, this is it.”
I am convinced Chimurenga Music has finally found a replacement for Dr Mapfumo. Previous attempts by the likes of Pio Farai Macheka and Robbie Chagumuka (May their souls rest in peace), look like a picnic when you listen to Makore.
I know there have been many pretenders over the years, all of them failing dismally, but today, as a Mukanya fan all my life, I can safely say with Makore, the genre is now in safe hands.
Mukanya’s legacy is in safe hands.
When Dr Mapfumo announced Makore’s arrival on the musical scene late last year and declared the young man as the heir apparent to his musical throne, I did not trust him.
Anyone who has listened to Mukanya religiously like me finds Makore amazingly stepping into the then young Thomas Mapfumo’s shoes in the late 1970s and 1980s.
The first song “Gotokoto” is a traditional rendition that speaks to personal choices.
Then there is “Hwahwa” which was written by Dr Mapfumo himself is refreshing and an improvement from the previous version done by Mukanya.
The song “Africa”, speaks much to the continent’s endless conflicts, war, and diseases like corona, cholera, Ebola and flue, and rallying the continent to pool resources and fight the scourges.
Other songs on the album are “Bonga”, “Hondo”, “Nhamo yekuzvipa”, “Machinda and “Ndee”, all good songs about life situations. In the final analysis, this does not sound like a debut, but an experienced offering.
I do not absolve Mukanya himself from playing a bigger role on Makore’s music. It is a good job. As to the future, the light seems green all the way.