US-based Zimbabwean music producer of popular Jamaican musician, Red Rat’s monster track Rise Up Zimbabwe, Simukai Mandizvidza, aka Abra Simzz revealed that music is the passion of his life in an exclusive interview with the international online magazine, iZiviso.com.
“Music is in my blood. It’s largely influenced by the reggae and dancehall movement as well as Bob Marley,” said the music producer who is currently working on a mixtape featuring Winky D, Badman, King Shaddy, Sniper Storm and Lady B, among others.
Simzz said that he developed a strong friendship with Red Rat while working on the mega-hit Rise Up Zimbabwe. In 2009, Simzz said he sent an email to Red Rat suggesting the idea of the song which the Jamaican musician gladly welcomed. Working with his UK-based cousin and music partner, Jusa Dementor, Simmz presented some beats to Red Rat who then developed the lyrics for the song.
“Red Rat was my favourite artist growing up, so it was a real pleasure to work with him on the project. We developed a lot of camaradie and friendship. He also had some deep knowledge about the state of Zimbabwe from a documentary that he had watched which made it all the easier to collaborate with him,” said Simzz.
“Rise Up Zimbabwe has been like a movement. Internationally, it’s got attention. It’s a party vibe that is quite uplifting,” he added.
While Red Rat composed the lyrics, Simzz and Dementor helped in providing some pointer to make the song relevant to Zimbabweans. Apart from producing Red Rat, in the last two yers, Simzz has been producing works that have received rave reviews in the UK, US and Malaysia.
Simzz is also a founding director of Abra Tribe, a project aimed at identifying and nurturing Zimbabwean talent, and marketing it to the world. Abra currently has 25 representatives around the world.
“Abra is a brand with music as the basis. But we are also into modelling, clothing and we are also aiming to get into the movie industry. Our model has worked by working with Zimbabweans in the Diaspora in trying to market the Zimbabwean brand to the world,” Simzz said, adding that Abra is working to penetrate the Zimbabwean market through a message of unity and patriotism.
Simzz dismissed the idea that reggae music is neither African nor lucrative.
“Reggae is from Africa, it’s about the drum and the bass. The true Rastafarian focuses on Africa. That’s why individuals like Bob Marley din’t hesitate to sing about Africa,” he said. “I feel Zimbabwean dancehall is growing, it is driving young people. All we trying to do is to raise the flag – to put Zimbabwe on the map.”
He added that the brand of their music was consciously pro-Zimbabwen, and focused on positive things.
“Our whole drive is patriotism for Zimbabwe and unity. It’s certainly something that we are conscious about. We are trying to sell the Zimbabwean brand to the world as truly, original Zimbabwean brand,” he said.