Ninja Lipsy (pictured), as Tendazvaitwa Chitimbe is popularly known in zimdancehall circle, is probably the leading female dancehall chanter in the country. NewsDay Life & Style Correspondent Sindiso Dube (ND) caught up with Lipsy (NL) to discuss her life in the fast lane of music. Below are excerpts from the interview.
By Sindiso Dube
ND: Why did you move from Hip-hop and RnB to dancehall?
NL: After I did a collaboration with Winky D, that’s when I switched to dancehall and it was paying more than my parent genre and everyone goes with the economic wind.
ND: How did your collaboration with Winky D come up?
NL: From what I was told, Winky D was looking for someone who could do what I was doing and I was introduced to him by Flavour, although we knew each other. They listened to my song called Tell Me (and) they were impressed and then we made a track together.
ND: Zimdancehall is sometimes associated with drugs, violence and sex. How have you dealt with this?
NL: Yes, it’s associated with all those, but I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. If you concentrate on what you do, you will go far and I have seen people going down because of drug abuse and violence. Being disciplined has helped me to last this long in the industry, and I am going to be here for
a long time.
ND: What was your family’s response to your decision to take up music?
NL: Our family loves music. My uncle had a band and I have a cousin who is a rapper based in South Africa. At first they thought I was just going to do it like my uncle who just had a band that died a natural death. But now they are very supportive and they see that I’m doing this seriously. I share my new music with my parents first, before the public.
ND: It looks like there are fewer women in Zimdancehall. Why is that so?
NL: It’s not just with music, even in the corporate world females are fewer. Even when there is a big show, you get only one female representative. I think as female artistes, we need to change. Let’s work hard and unite and make the males see that we are able.
ND: Has music paid dividends for you?
NL: To be honest, right now we don’t really have a sound that’s paying. Dancehall is no longer what it used to be and hip-hop looks like it’s rising.
ND: There are claims that a lot of producers demand sex before they can work with a female artiste. What has been your experience?
NL: Of all the producers I have worked with, no one has ever asked for sexual favours. The way I talk and think, I do it like a man. Producers are actually scared of asking for anything from me. They are scared of being exposed.
ND: Who has been your greatest inspiration in music?
NL: I love hip-hop and my greatest inspiration comes from my hip-hop favourites, then I go back to a dancehall beat. I have not been a lucky with love, that’s why I have no love songs. I don’t have any inspiration for love songs. I have a friend who has been helping me to come up with love songs and my next single will be a love song.
ND: You have been on record saying marriage will kill your career?
NL: Every female artiste thinks that marriage ends their career. But if you find someone who understands and support you, your career won’t die. For me, I’m not married because I don’t think I have to rush, and marriage is not an achievement.
ND: Your clashes with Lady Squanda. Were they real or just publicity stunts?
NL: What happened was real and it’s something I’m over it and she is also over it. We met at a video shoot and we spoke as normal women and fellow artistes. I am glad that when all that happened, I didn’t say anything bad to anyone. She apologised and who am I not to forgive?
ND: What was the inspiration and reaction around the Ndiri Naughty art work?
NL: That artwork was just being crazy and naughty because the song was called Ndiri Naughty. It was about what people say about me… Many say I’m naughty, but those who know me know that I am crazy. On the art work, I was just wearing something, a bikini and a bra, but the graphic designer I worked with edited the picture to come out that way and that got people talking.
ND: What’s your encouragement to other young women who want to take up Zimdancehall but are scared?
NL: I will not discourage anyone from joining the industry, but my advice is it’s not an easy road. They have to be careful of people who ask for sexual favours in exchange for production or radio plays.