Its been a good year for hip hop within Zimbabwe and it is quite inevitable not to take heed of how far Bulawayo hip hop cats have been pushing and making serious musical moves(Cal_Vin featuring S.A artiste Cassper Nyovest) and with so much energy and a level of seriousness next to none they deserve recognition within a rap dynasty which they have built for themselves as’Ndebele Rap’.I must admit I have never been a follower of Ndebele rap – not because I stand tribalistic in all forms of being but the Kasi undertone within their rap is something I am yet to adjust to.New to my music library is Bulawayo bred Tafadzwa Tarukwana’s (known in the musical circles as Asaph) Ep entitled Kingsvilla which is surely to captivate and mind-catch the listener,with lyrics that are packed with brutal rhymes and a heavy breath of vocabulary that maintains a subtle nature to its listeners rarely giving him room to be a cliche rapper.
Kingsvilla does one thing truly well,that being, making certain that the listener is well aware that the rapper is strictly a Bulawayo product and that hip hop levels within Bulawayo are far much bigger than what the rest of the country would like to box them in but fails to represent the Ndebele language in the form of using it to spit bars.
For a while on social medias he has been on a rant that he is the ‘Saviour of Zim Hip Hop’ a title he seems to takes seriously .In his own words I quoted him saying..
”…I believe I will save Zim Hip Hop by giving it a culture. All I am is real and that is what I put into the music. I put BYO urban culture in Kingsvilla and it wont stop with just the music, the music is just the start. What I’m giving Zim Hip Hop is a language, a dress code, a lifestyle and that’s more than music.”
The former gospel rapper and the ambassador for Shades of Grey Apparel is no brand new to the hip hop circles having had the chance to work with other majoring Bulawayo hip hop artists such as P.OY and Cal_Vin and gospel artist referred to as T1NDA.On his 9 track EP project Asaph seeks the production affiliations of Charlie Zimbo(who snubs the most production spots)Dj Dakudo and LA Josh with tracks that all slide through one start up from a conversation he has with one female in Harare.Also making guest features are Cal_Vin on NTL,MJ Sings on Masiyiwa Moves and also embarks on a rap duo with Mimie on Potential .
It’s rare to find artists in this hip hop age who when faced with the opportunity to see their art hinge on either appealing to a bigger audience or a small listening capacity are willing to take the gamble to perfect their art and Asap manages to impress in that area.Ambition meets creativity on the opening track ‘KingsVilla’ produced by LA Josh which starts off the conversational journey in Harare between him and a female voice that transcends to the track which he talks frankly about being once a gospel rapper and why he opted out of it amongst other topics.
Drop That,which initially was the first track he worked on before the other EP tracks, takes on the party theme and is a brilliant abstraction for the EP heavy with a Migos borrowed flow.Potential creates a rap chemistry light and delicate on the ear and the duo makes the track an easy dance-able track to vibe with Mimie offering a crisp sounding feature to the track.On QueensVilla he holds it down with his rapping skills with the ability to up his scales with his corny verses. Byo State of Mind is a rap referential ode to his hometown with an impressive tone and vocal delivery. Masiyiwa Moves title takes a subject play on Econet Wireless mega man Strive Masiyiwa as Asaph talk how he is ‘striving’ to be better and narrates how he once rejected advice from a girl who encouraged him to take his rap to Harare where there are better airplay opportunities and better organised shows for his own good(Shoko Festival,Hifa).On NTL ‘Northend to Luveve he features fellow Bulawayo hip hop artiste Cal_Vin but the tracks falls short with a flavorless chorus.Mr Dhliwayo is my personal favorite and was the headlining single to the EP.Mr Dhliwayo is a satirical notion on the surname ‘Dhliwayo’ which translated out of its vernacular context has something to do with ‘eating’ or ‘being devoured’ .According to Asaph, Mr Dhliwayo is that one goon that’s willing to spend money on other people therefore willing to be ‘devoured on’ by gold diggers or by friends although he isn’t even rich enough.
Generally KingsVilla is a narration of various themes within the rapper’s life and as an artiste coming from Bulawayo.It is a good listen and what is most impressive is the rapper being able to finesse the English language in a way that it appeals to both hip hop tribes making his listening audience unlimited .You can follow Asaph on Twitter @TheBoyAsaph.You can add him on Facebook as Tafadzwa ‘Asaph’ Tarukwana.You can listen and download KingsVilla on the bottom link .
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Hip hop is alive and well…..