Taarab classic revived in Subalkheri Mpenzi

‘Subalkheri Mpenzi’ (Good Morning My Lover) was released just three months after ‘Mahabuba’, the first collaboration between Aslay and Nandy, with each single exploring the theme of love.
The original song by Culture Musical Club – ‘Subalkheri’ – has been remade over the years by various traditional artists and groups. However, this is the first time that the song has been taken up by a younger generation of artists.
The art of young musicians incorporating other artists' chord progressions or lyrics is common in Tanzania. The most recent case was Diamond Platnumz’s single ‘Salome’, which was originally composed by traditional singer Saida Karoli.
So, inasmuch the lyrics in ‘Subalkheri Mpenzi’ are not original, it’s encouraging to see the two musicians showcase their creativity by exploring the taarab genre, which has few mainstream acts delving into it.
The song begins with the two musicians humming to a solid taarab tune. The storyline is about two young lovers desperate to begin a life together. However, this is set to remain a fantasy since the man is struggling financially.
While the deep and heartwarming lyrics portray two tormented lovers struck by the reality that they may have to wait a little bit longer, the lyrics also confirm that first love is indeed real love.
Hebu nitoe majonzii, unijuze shida yako (Tell me what is bothering you so that I can wipe away your tears).
Shida yangu sijiwezi, dawa yangu sura yako
 (The only solution to my problem is the sight of your face).
Unlike in many songs where young people fall in love and shelter the affair from their parents, Aslay and Nandy seem to have each of their parent’s blessings. This is confirmed in the second stanza as well as in the music video where the two lovers are seen freely engaging with family members.
Waonaje wazazi nyumbani utokeyako? (How are your parents?)
Kawa nusuru mwenyezi hofu yao juu yako (They are doing well, just curious about you).
The music video is well executed and perfectly edited. Additionally, the chemistry between Aslay and Nandy in a village setting is also well-captured.
‘Subalkheri Mpenzi’ will find it difficult to join the ranks of the pop hits coming out of East Africa. Nonetheless, judging by the number of YouTube views, it seems a big section of the public is impressed by the new version.

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