Those who are obsessed with statistics would have noticed that by yesterday afternoon, Jah Prayzah’s blockbuster collaboration with Nigerian superstar Davido had already managed to amass over half a million views on video sharing site, YouTube.
Those numbers by themselves are astounding especially in Zimbabwe where YouTube numbers usually tick along at a snail’s pace. As things stand, Jah Prayzah’s strategy of combining with some of Africa’s most well known voices is paying off.
Last year’s smash hit, Watora Mari which featured Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz, is sitting at a pretty six million views while the recent collaboration with Mafikizolo on Sendekera has already garnered over 1,2 million views.
Numbers aside, debate on the merits of the song still rages. Some believe that in comparison to its predecessors, Watora Mari and Sendekera, My Lilly is a lukewarm offering. The critics argue that the song has been merely boosted by the coming together of two well known names who simply harnessed the power of their brands to dupe fans into praising a subpar product.
On paper, the names Jah Prayzah and Winky D scream smash hit, but when put in the recording booth, the stars prove to have more bark than bite. On the other side of the coin are fans that believe that the song delivered on its promise. Those who love the collaboration argue that critics have been deceived by the slow pace of the track. While some expected a track between west and southern Africa’s finest to be instant chart incinerating inferno, the song is a slow burning flame, set to live long in the hearts and minds of those that appreciate it.
What however has been different about this recent collaboration has been the difference in the amount of effort that both camps seem to be putting in promoting the song.
As a man who prides himself in cooking up hits, Jah Prayzah has not shied away from promoting a dish that his camp will be hoping pushes him a few rungs higher up in the African music ladder. His eagerness to promote the song after the first few days of its release has left a bitter aftertaste however, particularly as the man who supplies the magic for the better part of the track itself has seemed to be completely unbothered.
The collaborations with Mafikizolo and Diamond Platnumz seemed to be based on mutual respect, with each camp nurturing the songs that came after their brief romances with the love and attention that they deserved.
With this latest collaboration, it has not felt that way entirely.
“At times you just have to drop a selfie of you and your girlfriend as a comment under a status she is sounding single to remind her and everyone else that ‘Ey, we’ve something together called a relationship, Do you remember,” posted Facebook user Prince Noble after Jah Prayzah had dropped a link to the song under the Instagram comments of a Davido post.
The Nigerian was advertising his latest adventures in Germany, and the collaboration with his southern African comrade seemed to be out of sight and out of mind.
Noble’s post was just one of many from Zimbabweans who felt that Zimbabwean music’s crown jewel had been reduced to a “groupie” stalking the pages of his Nigerian counterparts as he sought to get the high powered collaboration the attention that it deserved.
Prayzah’s promotion efforts soon became a fodder for jokes, with ever eager social media comedians tearing into his zealous efforts to promote the song while the Nigerian was simply laying back with barely mention of their joint effort.
Davido’s shout out came on Wednesday, five days after the song had been released, but to some the damage had already been done.
In some ways, this is a reality check. A man that is considered a shark in Zimbabwe is perhaps being shown as an artiste that is not as big locals assume he is, but merely a large fish in a very small pond.
Davido, Wizkid, Black Coffee and other African stars have begun to make inroads into the western world and they perhaps do not value collaborations with rising African titans like Prayzah.
Although his strategy to court some of the biggest names on the African continent is praiseworthy and has largely worked for him, it does come with its drawbacks.
While the cost of working with all these big names is largely unknown, there is no doubt that their time and effort come at a huge price. This week’s events have also shown that it is not only his pockets but also his pride that stands to be dented.
Throughout this spate of superstar collaborations, Prayzah has certainly done a great job to walk step by step with the illustrious names he has worked with.
He kept pace with fast paced rhythm of Diamond Platnumz and also managed to tame a heavily house music influenced beat when he worked with Mafikizolo.
On My Lilly, he manages to slow down the tempo without breaking stride, riding the DJ Tamuka produced Afro-beat alongside a smooth and comfortable Davido.
However, while both stars might appear on the song’s credits, the aftermath of the song’s release has shown where the power truly lies.
All marriages are not equal after all.