Soundtrack: Ronald Magweta
IN the first few months of 2019, Zim hip-hop acts had a good run, from topping music charts to being played in the streets, and getting play-listed in some of the big clubs.
As much as this may sound unrealistic to some, others could be tempted to think the music landscape might be shifting from Zimdancehall. Artistes like Ti Gonzi, Takura, Ishan and Hillzy have been on the forefront, with their music videos on rotation on regional music television channels like Trace Africa and Channel O.
As expected in the hip-hop culture, or any other genre, there is always that one stand-out artiste, the alpha male or female, the one who represents everyone from city to city and bridging the gap between different tribes.
Fresh from bagging several music awards, hip-hop artiste Asaph — as Tafadzwa Tarukwana is popularly known — is one of the most talked-about rappers in the country. It seems he has finally solidified his kingship in the genre with the release of his Extended Play (EP) titled The People’s Rapper.
After the release of the track, Mambo, Asaph terrorised radio charts and won awards. The rapper was under pressure to stay on top of his game and keep his fans on their toes as he had already set the bar high. As expected, the release of his EP made him one of the most consistent players in the hip-hop genre.
From its title, one can only imagine what the project would be, and if you are a fan of the rapper, you would know the project was “fire” already. Asaph employed the services of Aykay, Rayobeats, Kronik and Msizkay on the production side and for the project to be of top quality, it was mixed by Larynx at Certified Music Records.
On features, the rapper roped in T Jeketera, his sister Mimmie Tarukwana, Fish F Mcswagg, Tha Dawg, Ganyaz Jr, Msizkay, Zimbiyana Jones and Lee Mchoney.
Just like the first track on the project titled VIC (Vibe is Correct), this EP’s vibe is certainly correct. You can dance, cruise or just nod in appreciation of this classic project. It is always hard to have a hip-hop project where there are different kinds of tracks that go along with different moods.
Asaph, who is also known as the voice of the youth, touches on different topics that have been mainly affecting the youths in Zimbabwe and Africa at large.
In one of the tracks, Real One, Asaph pleads with God, asking when the suffering will end. Many youths in Zimbabwe are battling to survive, but with little hope. He continues on the same trajectory on Fivestreet Flows, where he says he is always on his knees, praying to stay stronger.
The Mambo hitmaker also shows his love for singer, Tamy Moyo, when he says: “Lately, these women don’t understand me… avoiding relations coz of how I feel about Tamy.”
One of the things that make Asaph stand out among his peers is his use of Ndebele and Shona in his music. He bridges the gap between tribal lines and at the same time cementing his position in two of the country’s biggest cities.
Tracks like Mambo, Ginimbi, Rich and Changamire can be anyone’s favourite. Asaph’s sound is reminiscent of the original rap, the Tupac Shakur-kind of sound. He makes each rhyme count, weaving his flow with each beat, unlike mumble rappers who sometimes make it difficult to even hear what they would be saying.
The production and lyrics of the people’s rapper are a perfect blend, setting the bar high for some of his peers. Asaph’s story-telling game remains unmatched and the depth in his lyrics could make you think he has decades’ history in the industry.
In a demonstration of music maturity, Asaph has arranged his project in a way that does not give monotony a chance, starting with a kind of turnup track and switching to more deep and conscious tracks, before wrapping it all up with a turn-up track.
Just like the title of this EP or if this EP is anything to go by, then Asaph is certainly the people’s rapper.