'Rap in local languages'

HARARE - Shingirayi “Mau Mau” Sabeta, one of the pioneers of Zimbabwean hip-hop, says the genre will move a notch higher if its artistes sing in their mother tongues.

“Artists need to master their mother tongues and rap in those mother tongues so that we develop our own voice. Few artists are currently doing that. If you check out, for example, Zimdancehall has appealed to a bigger audience because it’s music that can easily be identifiable with,” he said.

The legendary rapper added that local hip-hop artistes need to take a cue from South African and Nigerian hip-hop stars that have attracted global acclaim largely because they sing in their own languages.

The Rusape-born star has urged young rappers to work on producing albums because singles have minimal impact.

“When you do an album you have to conceptualise who you are as an artiste. Apart from the cost factor of releasing an album, most artistes need to work on creativity and push themselves to reach up the ladder,” he said.

Despite Zim hip-hop generally playing second fiddle to other Zimbabwean music genres such as sungura, dancehall and contemporary traditional music, Mau Mau insists that Zimbabwean rappers will soar to the top some day.

“I am very optimistic about Zim hip-hop even though we don’t get much respect. Maybe 10 to 15 years ago, there was a chance that it could have blown up but it didn’t. Artistes now have to work hard and put a lot of effort so that we scale dizzy heights,” he said.

Mau Mau has been impressed by the new generation of Zimbabwean rappers particularly Tehn Diamond, Junior Brown, MK47 and Black Bird.

“If you look at the trends, it is a South African and Nigerian hip-hop scene now but the next one is Zimbabwe. We have been taking notes and learning a lot from guys down South. We now have to work hard and put a lot of effort,” he said.

Mau Mau, who recently became a born-again Christian, plans to launch his sixth 12-track album titled Damascus next month.

The veteran rapper made an explosive return on the local music scene with the online launch of his latest single, Ndamutswa, a year-and-half ago.

Mau Mau, who has five albums under his belt, followed that up with another scorcher titled Ndingatyei that he released last year.

The Zim hip-hop legend is famed for his mid-1990s hits Blackness that he did with the late Prince Tendai, his debut self-entitled single Mau Mau, the classic 2000 debut album, M’fecane, Coup d’etat in 2001, Aluta Continua in 2006 and two collaborative albums under Super Magamba in 2009 and 2010.

Sabeta is determined to use hip-hop music to spread the word of God and push forward the Christian ministry.

Once a hard-hitting lyricist, Sabeta believes that bold and radical Christianity will lead today’s hip-hop generation towards God.


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