Soul Jah Love genius of our time. . . . shadowed by drama, misfortune . . . dies exactly 1 year after fake death rumour. Born: Soul Musaka, November 22, 1989
Died: Soul Jah Love, February 16, 2021. Soul Jah Love sang his life. It was a life full of drama, misfortune, drugs, love and boundless musical talent.
His reign in the spotlight was short. It ran from 2012-2021. But in those nine years, through his songs, he bared it all.
Perhaps what best underlines how dramatic Soul Jah Love’s life was is the bizarre timing of his death. Exactly a year before his death, on February 16, 2020, he was involved in an accident on his way to a show in Kwekwe. He survived the accident but rumors that he had died spread through the grapevine and dominated social media.
He responded with a song, “Vaiti Handipone” throwing egg on whoever wished him dead and daring them to give him his condolence money so he can spend it.
February 16, 2021, exactly a year to the date of the false rumour, Soul died.
He had many battles to fight, he had a haunted past, that influenced his behavior everyday. He had a great talent that made the world demand his presence and attention. He had a rowdy group of youth around him all the time offering him the very things he knew he had to run away from – meth, marijuana, broncleer, mutoriro to name a few of the drugs he abused.
He had a life-long battle with diabetes and had to inject himself everyday, collapsing on several occasions and failing to perform as a result. He had a bad temper that saw him having many ugly episodes in public and several nasty incidence with the love of his life, Bounty Lisa, who he battered ruthlessly until she left him.
Many times he spoke and sang, he seemed to yearn for people to really understand what he goes through because, unless he sang, no one seemed to empathise.
“Face yangu inoita kunge yakangonyorwa ma Drugs, zvekuti wangu munamato Mwari wangu, ndigonesei zvandinotadza, ndigare ndakachena, ndigofadza vaye vaye vandinotadzira . . .vamwe vanoti ndichavigwa negonzo, mbereko yaramba, but ndini ndinotozozviramba. Zvandataura pese apa masong andatokuudza ari pa album iroro, “Dai Hupenyu hwaitengwa,” he said to Star FM’s KVG as he introduced his 2016 album.
“People don’t understand me, but ndikaimba vanokwanisa kunzwa kurwadziwa kwangu, through voice rangu. Despite kuti ndinemunyama, I’m diabetic ka, life yangu, chero paRadio pandiri panapa, ndogona kunge ndichitorwara ndakatogara panapa, ndichingozvishingisa kuti ndingoita zvandirikuita zvipere. But ndikatadza kuuya kushow because ndadonha kana nesugar, handitokwanise kuzvitaura because vanhu vanongoti ‘akadhakwa, madrugs,’ nekuti hapana anonyasomboziva life yangu. But munhu wese anouya padhuze pangu, anozozviona zvakawanda . . . like my manager Wadis, ndakatomboshaya injection in Kenya at the airport and zvinenge zvakaoma. But I’m always blamed and if I fire a manager, the fault is always on me,”
Soul Jah Love was always going through a lot and people didn’t always understand him. He explained it in another radio interview when he gave his reasons for not always being available for selfies with fans.
“You know, I’m a human being. Sometimes ndinenge ndamuka kumba, pamwe mari yese ndabhema Everest, pamwe kudheni hakuna mafuta, iwewe wakuuya kuti ‘Chibaba picture, picture . . . apa inini ndukutogaya kuti muface uyu akuziva here kuti kuden hakuna mafuta,” he quipped.
The radio presenter and many listeners laughed but underneath that ‘joke’ was a serious cry for help and for the world to be more tolerant to his tantrums and out of character episodes.
Jah Love grew up without his parents but it is his mother, Stembeni, that he wished had been there. In several songs he laments her loss and reckons he could have been a better man had she been alive.
“Ndakakura ndichiita kunge chigunduru and I always think if my mother was around she would have said, ‘gara pasi, ukunotsvagei ku road?’.
Maybe I would have stayed away from drugs, maybe the poor decisions dzaiita kuti ndikure ndichingonzi uyu imboko would have been avoided.
Maybe I would have been a better man. That is why I have written this song, “Dai hupenyu hwaitengwa,” said Soul Jah Love to then Star FM radio presenters, KVG and Phathisani Sibanda, as he introduced his 2016 album also titled ‘Dai Hupenyu Hwaitengwa’.
In that album he sang also about his apparent inability to father children saying when God desires, he will have kids one day.
Everything about his life, he would bare to the world, through his music.
THE GRAND ENTRANCE
Before 2012, Soul Jah Love was relatively unknown outside Mbare. In Mbare he was one of those naughty budding artistes waiting for a big break alongside his friends, Seh Calaz and Kinnah. They entered a Ghetto vs Ghetto contest at City Sports Centre and Mbare won, led by Jah Love’s song, “John Terry” and the trio’s collaboration titled “MaOne atanga.”
After that it was game on and they grew popular at a time dancehall music needed a spur. The dilemma was, “who was the best of the trio?”
Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz stood out and the competition between them grew into a fierce rivalry that later even became violent and chaotic.
The song ‘Gum kum’ became the young artiste’s naughty break as an individual. He had to do a radio-friendly version of the track but that was the beginning of his solitary breakaway from the crew of young musicians that was called Zimdancehall artistes.
WHO IS THIS SOUL JAH LOVE?
After that song everyone was asking who is this Soul Jah Love?
He answered them with the song, “Ndini uya uya” which – perhaps more than any other song – announced his greatness.
“I’m that guy that society looked down upon, forgotten by relatives, the one accused of all the crimes, suspected to have died, scolded by everyone, labelled a failure, always sick, the one they had thrown into the street . . . ndini uya uya,” he said in that song.
That same year, 2014, the rivalry between him and Calaz was to be settled once and for all through a clash themed ‘Sting’ at City Sports Centre.
He won that contest amidst chaos and with ghetto youths needing tear gas to clear as chaos reigned. Many were injured and hospitalized at the clash but in the end, Soul Jah Love was pronounced the King of Zimdancehall music.
He concluded the matter by releasing a song, “Ndakamukwapaidza.”
Calaz even got emotional to the extent of calling Soul Jah Love barren but even that below the belt blow was replied with a song – “Vakupinda personari”.
This is one artiste who does not need a biography because his songs chronicled his life all the way to his death.
Soul Jah Love only ever loved one woman, Bounty Lisa. He loved her, married her, broke up with her, re-engaged her, ruthlessly battered her several times until she lost her patience with him and left him for another man. But even then, he loved her, to his dying day.
To express his love for Bounty Lisa he gave us the masterpiece, “Ndozvandinomudira” – the absolute dancehall love song fit for any couple in true love.
When she left him, he sang “wakandirwadzisa”.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS, DISAPPOINTMENTS, NO SHOWS
With rising popularity and show promoters stampeding for his signature, Jah Love’s fortunes changed and he even built a house and drove in fancy cars.
He sang the song “Kuponda Nhamo” to celebrate these achievements but they did not come without some misfortunes.
Controversy continued to follow him like a shadow as he failed to show up for shows several times a year. He was arrested in Mutare over failure to perform after being paid. In South Africa, he failed to perform again and there were calls for his head. Every year there were a handful of promoters crying foul over his lack of professionalism.
Without money upfront, he would simply not perform, but with the money in his hands, there was never a guarantee that he would pitch. The house he built was destroyed by the city council and he sang, “Pazai” in an emotional response resembling a crushed soul.
Then ZANU PF youth leader embarrassed Soul Jah Love at a rally in Mutare when he stopped him from performing claiming “Soul Jah Love hachisi chinhu” and the dancehall king responded with the song, “Zvinhu”.
For years leading to his death, the Mbare-bred artiste was never in dependable health. He was hospitalized in England when his condition worsened but left controversially without paying the hospital bills.
He came close to having his leg amputated and famously went to popular prophet Walter Magaya for healing.
His other main problem was with virility but he always believed god would grant him a child. It was not to be.
Aged 31, he died with no spouse or children.
He died living behind all those great songs, good, bad, ugly memories, even myths that may never be authenticated. He has left a song, “Kana ndafa” to urge people not to believe all they hear about him after his death.
But he has died a legend, loved across generations and from the ghettos to the fluffy suburbs. Even the corporates are mourning his deaths. Chicken Inn yesterday posted, “The golden legend with crispy hits we luv, Celebrating the life of the people’s champion, #RIP Chibaba.”
Ecobank posted, “Your voice will live on, RIP Soul Musaka.” Delta’s Chibuku page had, “Forever Super, zvarwadza vasara, Rest in peace, Chibaba”.
Even the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi singled him out as one of his favorite, perfectly summating the celebrated artiste in a sentence. “Ndinofarira Soul Jah Love, mumwe anotaura zvinemusoro zvekuti dhu, kungoti pamwe zvinozovharwa nehunhu hwake,” he said in response to Star FM’s Phathisani Sibanda.
When Soul Jah Love coughed, the Zimdancehall world caught a cold. Every statement or word he uttered became a chorus in the streets. From chibaba to makuruwani to Pamamonya ipapo. From Mind your hokoso to mafundan’a to naka dhula Dhaka . . . Soul Jah Love just woke up with a phrase and it would be the talk of town.
It is sad he will wake up no more, at last not in this lifetime. But his music will live forever. The epitaph on his grave must read, “Here lies a 21st century music legend”.