Young Karl shapes the future of music and dance


I have often been accused of not featuring young up-coming artistes in my articles.

I agree, but this week I am going to make the effort of discovering and appraising new talent. There are justifiable reasons why I do not usually bother with artistes who are not yet established, especially young ones.

This is basically through the fact that when I discover a young talent, within a few years they normally disappear from the limelight.

There often is no consistency as many young artistes are grappling to establish themselves as musicians against the wishes of their parents who often think that there is no future in the music business.

That is discouraging news for many of them. Quite a few of these artistes have proved their parents wrong by establishing themselves as the breadwinners of the whole family. Such examples range from Jah Prayzah, Oliver Mtukudzi to Jonah Moyo who started their music careers at a young age and have shown that they can make a decent living out of music alone.

There could be more young artistes who want to establish themselves as the world’s best music icons, but are nervous about upsetting their parents since their future is unknown.

The future is unwritten. It is also right around the corner, and it is not evenly distributed.

More and more young people around the world are reaching towards it to shape it, improve it, and make it more equitable.

These “shapers of the future” are embracing every corner and intersection of the music world. They are people of ideas, framing the intellectual questions and concerns that will guide future thought. While under the age of 25, one shaper of the future that I highlight in this article has already left his mark on the present, and we expect to see much more invention, innovation, creation, and interpretation from him in times to come.

Although his name is not so familiar to many readers of this column, I am positive that he will soon make headlines in Zimbabwe, if not around the world.

His name is Karl Hlongwane aka Leo Scorpio born in Bulawayo on April 15, 2000.

In an exclusive interview with Karl last month, this is what he had to say:

“My stage name is Leo Scorpio

I have attended several schools that include Saint Georges College, Loughborough College, Hartmann House and Saint Michaels and I am currently attending Southeast Missouri State University where I am studying Sports Administration.

The countries I have resided in during my up-bring before going to the United States of America are Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

My artistic/musical journey began when I was 12-years-old, but I have always had the picture of me performing my music to large crowds since the age of around 7 and 8. I think I am still evolving as an artiste but, however, with the hopes of the support of my people from family to fans I can now give them an insight on the hard work and craft I took into mastering my musical output. The music is here, it’s just waiting to be shared.

My inspirations are to just genuinely have an impact in the world. I want to be a part of history and I’m not talking in just a sense of being alive but by leaving a meaning behind at the end of it all.

The artistes I look up to vary. However, the likes of Michael Jackson, Brenda Fassie, The Marley Family, Wizkid, and Drake come to mind.

I also have a lot of respect for Kabza de Small and Winky D plus a lot of other talented artistes.

My plan for music is to create a platform for artistes in struggling countries. I want to create a standard and set bars to the level of work that should be taken to the arts. I want to create, break and develop music. My plan is to fully understand music, so I don’t have to ask any more questions about it but answer it myself. I want my music to be a problem-solver and something that people can not only relate to but learn from in various ways”.

Leo  Scorpio has so far recorded a six track EP (extended play) titled Kuro featuring McKnife on one track which is currently making waves on many music platforms such as You Tube, Instagram and radio stations. This was directed by Zorodzai Chibuwe. The six tracks on the E.P. are: My Type, Lo, Awesome, Keep Walking, Jika and I Know. The E.P. is now available on major music platforms.

Dancing to Karl’s music in the video are teenage  cousins: Karen Mutsa Hawadi and Tapiwa Manuhwa.

I have had the opportunity to listen to this music and as the artiste himself describes it, it is awesome.

 A fair warning before you listen to the extended play: if you are not a big fan of modern pop music, Amapiano or R&B   this is not an album for you. If you are accustomed to Sungura or Zimdancehall, Karl’s music will probably not hit the spot for you. Nowhere in his compositions does he attempt to appeal to the Sungura or Zimdancehall fans. This, to my mind is a special E.P. It is what many true fans would call "thorough". So if you are ready for great dance music, get ready, because Karl tells it how it is.

 The E.P. opens with the self- titled track, I Know which is an appropriate opening, not only by title but for the frame work of the whole extended play. He proceeds with the next title called Awesome.

A lot of young musicians these days are fond of using rhymes and similes in their lyrics. Some of them make sense others do not but in Karl’s music the lyrics have been carefully thought out.

Some artistes will just look for words that rhyme but which make very little sense. There are rhymes like:

There is not a problem I can’t fix

Cause I can do it in the mix

And if a man gives you trouble

Just move out on the double

Don’t let it trouble your brain

Away goes trouble down the drain.

You also get similes like:

Jewels without ice.

That's like China without rice.

Or the Holy Bible without Christ.

Or the Bulls without Mike.

Or crack-heads without pipes.

The village without dykes.

 Or hockey games without fights."

It's lyrics like these that make or break an album. However, in Karl’s E.P., all the lyrics make sense. It is one for the books.

Here are some musicians who make meaningless songs. They think that as long as the words at the end rhyme, that is a good display of talent. However, some rhymes spoil the meaning of the song.

As if the lyrics aren't enough, Karl is also complimented by guest appearances  from the invincible McKnife. With the company of two great artistes inZimbabwean music, this E.P. should be an overall success.

 Later in the E.P. he has a song titled Keep Walking which tells us about his desire to keep walking instead of being discouraged from doing what he believes in by the jealous losers. Karl reminds his fans that he is not completely lost by singing in English only. He proves that he is multilingual in his song from the roots called Jika where he sings in Ndebele.

Overall, this E.P. is a fantastic production and I hope that this young man will soon come up with yet another scorcher.

Often a band will record a fantastic debut album, but for whatever reason, they simply cannot replicate the quality of the material on their follow-up recording.

 I pray that this will not happen to Leo. After Leo Scorpio’s first release, I will keep my fingers crossed for his next effort. With that he will fulfil his dream of becoming part of the world history through making an impact to all those who get the chance to listen to his music.

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