Music Seen! Oliver Mtukudzi - "Tuku Music"

Man, where have I been all this time. I admit I've never really listened to Oliver Mtukudzi's music apart from the singles that may be played radio. Actually scratch that, before listening to this album the only Oliver Mtukudzi song I can remember hearing is "Todii." Which is another interesting thing about this album. The single "Todii" has become a hit in Kenya many years after this album was released (10 years ago), which is around the time I recall first hearing it. It's kind of interesting how some songs become hits years and years later. "Premier Gauo" by Magic System is another song I recall that became a Kenyan hit many years after I first heard it. Anyway heaing "Todii" in may different places again sparked my interest in discovering more of Mtukudzi's music. I checked out some websites to get a feel of what to start with in regards to his albums(and there are many of them). And after reading some favourable reviews of Tuku Music album, I decided to start off with it, and boy what a good choice to start with. It is rare that an album impresses you on first listen, but I must say Tuku Music did just that for me. This is one of the few albums that has been in regular rotation on my mp3 player ever since I first got my hands on it.

This album now has one of my favorite opening chords of any album I own. I just love the opening bass guitar chord on the "Dzoka Uyamwe" which is a beautiful opening to the album with its delicate electric guitars and mbira. "Tsika dzedu" is the song that follows and is a very danceable tune with its repetitive melody, conga drums and female vocals. Yes, those lovely accompanying female vocals, they are a big part of what make Tuku Music so enjoyable, they are just used so well and just make each song what it wouldn't have been otherwise. To any musician looking to make a similar-sounding album, I say get some beautiful female singers and make full use of them! "Mai Varamba" is one of my favourites on the album and is just a calm song  with soft guitars, and although I dont know what he's talking about he sounds like he's saying "my verandah" so that's what the song is about to me, haha! Something that is clearly evident on songs like this is that Oliver Mtukudzi is just a first class song-writer and just creates this beautiful, classy melodies to soothe the soul.
The pace quickens on another upbeat number "Ndimba Ndapeza" again with lovely female vocals and Oliver delivering a great vocal performance, if this doesnt move you I dont know what will. "Tapindwa Ndei" is yet another album favourite with you guessed it, those angelic female voices and Oliver's bassy voice working together to create musical magic. I guess I lean more towards the slower, more mellow tempo songs on this album but
I guess that says more about me than the songs themselves. "Todii" comes along on the second half of the album and as previously mentioned is the song that has recently became a smash ten years after
first release. It is really an excellent song and deserves all the accolades, and as Ive read on other sites it along is a song dealing with HIV/AIDS. It is no wonder this song is covered by many Kenyan bands, and you cant blame them, its a really infectious song. "Mabasa" is another slow tempo song which again talks about HIV/AIDS issues and opens with a low acoustic guitar which then gets backed up by an even quieter bass guitar. Tuku Music featres alot of electric guitars it doesnt take waya from the sound or make it monotous in the very least, in fact you hardly even notice it as you listen. The final song is "Wake Up" which contains I think the only English lyrics on the album, and is about Africans uniting, which is a topic in songs I rarely get tired of.

Tuku Music by Oliver Mtukudzi is one of those instances, where I asked myself "where have I been all this time?" He was one of those artists I always heard about but never bothered to discover more about, maybe I was too caught up in the top 40 hits at the time to give Oliver the time of day, shame on me. This album instantly made me a fan and when I recently went to watch his performance at Club Afrique he didn't disappoint. This album had me singing loudly along with it in the car(which I rarely if ever do,haha) during the first weeks I had it. It was just that infectious and I don't even understand most of the lyrics(sung in Shona), but you just feel the music and the words and they way Oliver Mtukudzi has arranged it all together. I can't believe I hadnt heard this album for a good ten years since its release, but I'm glad it finally entered my life and is now a collection favourite.

::KC blog:: rating 5/5 stars

"If you're an African artist aspiring for greatness, Tuku Music is one of the albums you should study."


  1. True that and not just because I am Zim but because of the the very deep messages in his music versatility. You only have to listen too to his collaborations with Ringo (South Africa) and with Steve Dyre and the rest of the members of Mahube (Southern African ensemble of musicians from a number of countries) to see how well he blends in but also maintaining that very unique and easily recognizable Tuku voice.

  2. Anonymous24/2/10 12:20

    Hey there? Any ideas where I can get the guitar chords for 'todii'? You should also review The Best of Hugh Masekhela's album...



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