Talk about music which fully expresses, without shreds of doubt, the essential element of being a human being on planet Earth. Talk about music which leaves no stone unturned in giving an accurate picture of what a human being truly and deeply feels in their existence on a wretched planet. Talk about music which, in the midst of all the mess happening in the world, seeks to bring out the beauty of life, seeks to bring out hope and respite for a better tomorrow.
This is what Hillary Keni-Witsani’s alternative music is all about. His music transports you to a realm where you feel wanted, where you feel someone out there is fully capable of understanding your various predicaments, where you feel there is hope in this life. He presents music in a purely and excellently artistic form, music brimming with carefully woven poetry that makes your soul transcend barricades of emotions you suppress.
His album File 51 is all about our different paths and journeys in life, music which seeks to bring out every bit and piece of the dimensions our existence are subjected to. It’s a nicely and wonderfully, yet mystically constructed album, giving you a true representation and mirroring of what we go through every day.
“This album looks at the idea of home and its memories both as a physical and abstract entity in a world where a lot of the times it gets really difficult to know where you belong, and where that state of not belonging becomes a source of both freedom and alienation. This is not a happy album, and it’s not a sad album either but a ‘being content’ album where you are grateful for the peaceful moments in your life and for great friends and family but at the same time accepting of the soul-deep scars, pain, loss and mental stresses that come with being alive,” Hillary says.
Through the 13 tracks in the album, the themes brought out clearly show of a human being who has embraced his form, his emotions, his true self; a human being with the intention of preaching the same message. That you are not alone. That we are not alone. That as humans we can be there for each other.
The album opens with a poetic short interlude called 28 Sunninghill, and immediately comes Selling God. It has a deep religious theme portraying the hypocrisy that pervades the world, and how religion is messing things. Get Up is simply a declaration of defying odds by simply growing up. After that comes It’s All in Your Head, Far From Home and I Be. Bipolar is that song we need as Zimbos. That we are there for each other, as attention on mental illness is growing in the country.
The last song on the album, Never Again, brings an end to such a rollercoaster journey. There is hope for something better.
We are very much intrigued by the deep, slow, contemplative style employed by Hillary Keni-Witsani. His album is a reflection of the aesthetics in Zim music and how we can use music to talk about the deep-seated issues affecting us as a people.
The way religion is thoroughly tackled in the album is simply outstanding. He also talks about having the power as human beings to control our own fate, to be who we want to be. Contemporary as it may be, Hillary’s music mirrors an African aware of his identity, yearning to preach his identity.
File 51 is that album which has all the elements found in today’s music across many genres. It’s safe beyond any reasonable doubt to say that Hillary Keni-Witsani is a woke artist. He sings life. He sings meaning. He is that artist you wanna pay attention to.
The diversity on the album which captures vividly the issues of self-acceptance and liberation is unique. Get more of this music, and our consciousness multiplies. The way socio-political issues are widely covered on the album is beyond amazing.
The way local languages are conflated on the album is just lovely.
This is the type of music we would want more on the album. Alternative music in Zimbabwe must find more space. Hillary’s music teems with dazzling poetry that brings out exactly what you what to hear. It heartily touches the mind, soul, body.
That this is music which we should appreciate and show more acknowledgement. This is the kind of music which we have lots of capability in terms of advancing it.
You can get the album File 51 by Hillary Keni-Witsani on this Bandcamp link.