Six MaLabel is more than just a club song
Everyone loves a Kae Chaps heartbreak song. So much so that whenever he posts a girl on his social media, the comment section is flooded with people either cautioning him against love or eagerly calling for a breakup so they can get another smashing hit. I'll admit, the guy knows how to express heartache both vocally and lyrically. But his talent isn't limited to just that. In fact, though I thoroughly enjoy his love songs and break up hits, I feel like Six MaLabel is a gem that people don't pay enough attention to.
The intro to this banger is a guy making simple yet elaborate Saturday plans. All he wants is to get four five six zvimalabel, hapana. It's that last word that really captures the essence of the song for me. Hapana. There's nothing else. No alternative for a young person living in a soul-crushing environment. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
The song then opens with a clever count of the number of bottles he wants. He sings:
Chengeta zvimwe zvese, ndikuda rimwe chete
Maviri ndiwo kete
Three futi kenge
Kana four for the road bhoo
Chiunzai six acho arikutonhorera
I'm always in awe of just how accurately he managed to capture the insouciant incontinence of a true nihilist in this pre-chorus. He walks in wanting only one beer, but cannot bring himself to say no as the count goes up. By the time the beat drops, the singer is exclaiming his demands in a groovy, party rhythm - a desperate attempt at drowning out the melancholy crushing his chest.
The first verse states his intention: he wants to get drunk. Wasted. Completely knocked out. For him, there's "no reason to think much, n***a let loose" because everyone in Zim has issues. The only solution is suppression, otherwise hapana. After all, we finna die soon. One might be forgiven for thinking this is a fun verse calling people to enjoy themselves because YOLO. But when you listen closely, you discover it is dripping with disrespect to one's body, surroundings, community and elders, and the driving force behind that disrespect is nihilism.
This is a person who has nothing to live for. He is borderline suicidal. In a way, the disrespect and apparent detachment are a futile cry for help. Unfortunately, our guy knows that everyone is dealing with something and he might feel it unfair to call attention to his own problems. So he hides his cry for help in a club beat. I'm reminded of Andre 3000's iconic yet little-known lyric "y'all don't want to hear me, you just want to dance" in the masterpiece Hey Ya! Kae Chaps knows that no one wants to be burdened by someone else's issues. We just want to have a good time.
As the second verse begins, we learn the real reason he wants to get so drunk. His girlfriend dumped him. For someone else in a healthier environment, this heartbreaking event may warrant a drink or two, nothing excessive. But remember, our guy is not in a healthy environment. In another song (Ndozvazviripo), he's more truthful about his binge-drinking and says he wanted to kill the pain of the breakup.
A few lines down, he provides more context for his excessive reaction to the breakup: he's a ghetto youth who's lost a lot. Losing his girlfriend was the last straw. The only way to win is to forget, to suppress, to act like everything is peachy. He's stuck in a cycle and he sees no way out. Trying to go against the current has worn him out so much that he's decided to give up. The arrangement of the lyrics is so clever, taking you in and out of the bleak reality of the situation a couple times within the verse.
I'd be lying if I said the beat had nothing to do with my affinity for this song. I love a good hip-hop song, and the beat to Six MaLabel is impossible to listen to without breaking into dance. However, the song's dark undertones make it stand out for me. It's a daring choice for a singer in a market that doesn't believe in kudeepisa nyaya. And yet, if we are being honest with ourselves, things really are that deep.
We're stuck in a pleasure-seeking cycle because our lives have been stripped of meaning. When you live in a place like Zimbabwe, where things that should work don't and people that should help won't, selfishness and nihilism become your only coping mechanisms. You treat yourself poorly and you expect as much from others. And just like the person in Six MaLabel, you see no point in asking for help straight up because you know if the tables were turned, you wouldn't help either.
I've been stuck in this cycle more times than I care to admit. The only way I've found to break it is to get out of my head and see my life from a bird's eye view. By putting things in perspective, I can acknowledge that my situation sucks yet still find meaning in my existence. With the help of family and friends, I can deal with my hopelessness in less destructive ways and come out feeling strong enough to try again. The first step is the hardest though. It takes courage to be upfront when asking for help. I'm lucky that the people around me are always willing to listen when I need it most, that I don't always have to hide my pain in food or laughter or hip hop beats.
I hope and pray for your sake that you have at least one person who can pull you out of the funk. And if not, I certainly hope reading the articles and stories I write here will be beneficial to you somehow.
The next time you listen to this banger, just remember that there's more to it than the catchy hook and earth-shattering bass. Mad respect for Kae Chaps for this one.
12 April 2022