Uncovering the Cover: Mr Noxa’s Mudendere

Uncovering the Cover: Mr Noxa’s Mudendere

Promo Art to Mr Noxa's Mudendere cover version.

By Robert Mukondiwa

It was by chance that I happened upon the music of Mr Noxa.
Granted, I haven’t been my usual self; following the pop culture or the new music coming out of Zimbabwe’s studios.
Perhaps I have become tardy. Perhaps the new rising musicians have become tardy. Or perhaps in all fairness we both have; me and them.
I had argued on fellow writer Plot Mhako's thread on Facebook against assertions that music in Zimbabwe was dying thanks to a dearth of Artistes as said by Sulu Chimbetu the previous night. But deep inside I pondered whether the shadow sungura artiste was perhaps right. Yes, SHADOW.
There really isn’t much in terms of artistry to come out of the music world these days.
True, there is talent and immeasurable potential. True, songs are coming out that make me jump on the dance floor, but little that I will hold onto on my playlist for say, the coming six or seven years or perhaps until my dying day.
The music, the songs-well, they are coming with a sell by date.
Which is why I have been jolted by the music of Mr Noxa. Technically the song in question, Mudendere, was written and performed by Doba Don and Noxa did the cover. But perhaps that is the shocking thing about the whole scenario..
Performing a cover version of a song is probably all the more difficult because there are people who know it and jealously guard it as if it were their own. People not willing to give you a chance when you try your hand at it.
You see, even people like Michael Jackson, on whose corpse the dampness and maggots and fungi and heat and devil are failing to feast on because he has not died, because he is immortal and his art has forgotten how to die, in his genius also fell short on his attempt at a cover version.
His cover of the great Beatle’s track, Come Together, although palatable, was polarizing and didn’t enhance his name. After that, apart from the track ‘Smile’, I believe he never ventured into the dangerous terrain that is attempting cover versions. In short it is tricky.
And yet Mr Noxa, with his hand on Mudendere, has touched something with his hands that has not only confirmed he is a voice and talent for the future, but also justified why he has the ego to call himself MR; he can back it up!
Like a soft yet muscular bullfighter, Mr Noxa waves the red cape in front of the raging sound and lyrics crafted by Doba Don and calms down that tempo and madness.
Like a trained lover, he makes the track tone down its anger and raging sound until the lion in the song begins to purr like a little cat as he strokes its mane with his inimitable vocals and a voice lined with so much emotion that it drips with traces of honey as he sings it in the midst of the winter breeze.
With a beautiful accompaniment of the piano and strings that can never be imagined to accompany a previous Zimdancehall bolt of lightning, the orchestral influence makes the song both make sense and assume a new identity altogether.
For a moment there you imagine it embracing the visuals of a sweet action movie as if it were a soundtrack to the next James Bond flick.
It is dexterous and yet fiery in a sophisticated way.
And in something that will no doubt make Doba Don smile, it puts meaning to the words and shows just how great a songwriter Doba Don really is.
Perhaps there is hope after all. Perhaps the new crop can make music that can both become classics and also assume classical overtones.
It is a Samsonian feat and we certainly need more of the hand of Mr Noxa in both covers and originals and our musical future is in safe hands
As I listened to it in the midst of the winter chill, I came to terms with a song that is cold in crescendo sound and ascending to a sweet heat.
It is so chilled that it can melt an iceberg just with the heat of its artistry.

Perhaps perfection doesn’t need to be so loud after all. 


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