THE beginning of 2013 has been good for local hip-hop artiste Tendai Nguni, affectionately known as Tehn Diamond, whose song Happy has become an instant hit.
The track features another talented musician Junior Brown and well-known producer Take Five.
Tehn Diamond (TD) rose to great heights last year when he won a National Arts Merit Awards accolade for Best Video in 2012.
NewsDay entertainment reporter Tinashe Sibanda (ND) recently caught up with the rising star, who is the son of Minister of State in the Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s Office, Slyvester Nguni. Below are excerpts of the interview:
ND: Who is Tehn Diamond?
TD: I was born and raised in Harare. I come from a family of four. I studied at St George’s College where I found my love for the arts in drama and music. I then went to Brisbane University in Australia where I studied finance, but later dropped out to pursue a music career.
ND: How did your parents react to your decision to drop out of school?
TD: They were shocked as any other parent would be. It was a big risk and one that hasn’t even begun to pay off yet. But they are both supportive in their own way. I don’t see myself as doing great yet, but I am grateful for the fact that things are moving in the right direction.
ND: How many successful projects have you recorded so far?
TD: I have released four mix tape projects which were free promotional albums. Student of the Game (SOTG1) also known as Higher Learning (2010), SOTG2 Boys Will Be Boys, 2010), Love Is Evol with Simba Tagz 2011, SOTG3 (The Pursuit of Amazing).
I’ll be releasing my first album on March 26 with Junior Brown. It will be a collaborative effort titled The Feeling Ain’t Fair.
Then in the second half of 2013, I will be releasing my debut solo effort titled The Perfect Tehn.
ND: The song Happy has rocked the nation. Did you expect that and how did you come up with it?
TD: It came about in bits and pieces. The only time Junior Brown, Take Five and I were in the studio together was when we were working on the bridge of the song. Before that, Take Five made this crazy beat, Junior Brown came through with that amazing hook and when I heard the track a few days later I added the verse you hear now.
Junior Brown came through, heard what we’d done and just like that a winning team was born. We never expected it to be as huge as it has been, but we knew it was special. That’s why we held onto it for about a year-and-a-half before even letting radio get a taste of it.
ND: Who is your role model?
TD: I have three role models. Jay-Z is the greatest influence on me musically and as far as my entrepreneurial approach to the music business, Steve Jobs is my greatest influence. The creative directions I take in my music and the marketing are inspired by him. The third and final one is Fela Kuti because his revolutionary spirit resonates deeply with me. I always strive to keep truth alive and prominent in my music.
ND: What are your future career plans?
TD: My only goal is to keep creating music that connects with my fans, with the ultimate goal being to develop a blueprint of how to monetise those connections in the current music industry climate, something that can serve not just me, but the rest of the industry.
ND: How do you view the local music industry?
TD: It is broken! There are so many key elements and pieces of the industry framework that are either not functioning the way they should be or just non-existent. For example, we have no clearly defined and measureable distribution network for musicians to release their products through.
That’s what business is, being able to not only create demand, but to fulfil demand as well. However, we have a rich and vibrant live performance scene. That’s a sign of hope.
ND: What advice would you give to the fellow upcoming musicians?
TD: Seek out as much information about the business side of the music game and use what you learn to run your career as a business. The Internet is your friend and a wealth of amazing free resources. Most importantly, never stop practising and never stop having fun.
ND: Any plans for other collaborations?
TD: Well this week I’m working on tracks for the upcoming albums of two of our country’s latest crop of songstresses, Davina Green and Ammara Brown.