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Winky D "Dissapear" (YouTube)

10 Zimbabwean Dancehall Artists You Should Know

These are the musicians behind Zimbabwe's massive dancehall scene.

Dancehall music is arguably the biggest genre in Zimbabwe right now.

The vibrant music has steadily gained a massive following and widespread popularity especially among the youth and it's the norm to hear various hits blasting from the speakers of public transport on the streets of cities like Harare.

Zimbabwe's brand of dancehall originally has its roots in reggae and was largely influenced by the likes of Bob Marley and his performances in 1980. Zimbabwe had just obtained independence from the British and it's no surprise that the music released by dancehall artists of that time, the likes of Major E and Booker T, had a Jamaican-style lyricism to it.

Fast-forward to present day and Zimbabwean dancehall has almost abandoned its reggae influence. Instead, artists have opted for singing and rapping in vernacular languages such as Shona and Ndebele coupled with computer-generated beats that create a distinct local flavour that sets Zimbabwean dancehall apart from the dancehall produced in other countries.

As with a lot of the music that's been largely produced under the Mugabe-era, dancehall has also not shied away from highlighting the economic and socio-political issues facing many Zimbabweans daily.

From veteran artists such as Winky D to fresh talent including Tocky Vibes and Lady Squanda, Zimbabwean dancehall shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. And so we put together a list of the 10 Zimbabwean Dancehall Artists You Should Know below.

This list is in no particular order.


Winky D

Winky D has been around since the inception of Zimbabwean dancehall in its present form back in the early 2000s. Often referred to as the 'King of Dancehall,' he's put out several hit songs including "Musarove Bigiman," "Paita Party" as well as "Bassline Rock" which was a collaboration he did with Jamaican dancehall musician Hawkeye.

Lady Squanda

Lady Squanda is undoubtedly the leading lady in the male-dominated Zimbabwean dancehall scene. While she has put out several hits including "Ndinovhaira" and "Bhaisikopo", a track she did with fellow dancehall artist Freeman. Having drawn inspiration from female Jamaican reggae artist Lady Saw, Lady Squanda has often come under fire particularly for her use of "provocative" language in many of her songs.

Soul Jah Love

Soul Jah Love is definitely one of the more popular dancehall artists and shot to fame after putting out "Ndini Uya Uya," "Gum Kum," and "Pamamonya Ipapo." The musician is also known for his beef with veteran sungura artist Alick Macheso and while rumours of a collaboration between the two (in an effort to squash the beef) have been hanging in the air for years now, fans of both musicians really shouldn't hold their breath.

Killer T

Killer T burst onto the dancehall scene after he released the popular tracks "Makarova Ganaz," "Itai Ndione," "Hauterere," and "Tavakuda Kumbofarawo". While the young artist has enjoyed overwhelming success following his debut project, he has however received criticism for his latest album Mashoko Anopfuura with fans reportedly struggling to connect with it in the same way they did his previous work.

Empress Shelly

Empress Shelly initially started out making music with fellow musician Badman. However, after he relocated to South Africa, Empress Shelly embarked on a solo career in 2013 and then went on to win "Best Female Artist" at the Zimbabwe Dancehall Awards the following year. Some of her popular tracks include "Misodzi Yangu," "Fresh and Clean" as well as "Mufare".

Seh Calaz

In 2013, Seh Calaz officially stepped into the music industry following the release of his track "Mabhanditi." While the song itself caused quite a stir and went viral, it didn't receive any airplay on local radio stations. His follow-up track "Mumota Murikubvira," which was an ode to marijuana, was extremely popular and received ample airplay on several local radio stations in Zimbabwe. Seh Calaz is definitely one to watch.

Tocky Vibes

Tocky Vibes jumped into the spotlight back in 2014 after he released his hit single "Mhai." The heartfelt track spoke about a young man leaving home in search of his big break in the city but always making sure to remember his mother and her well-wishes for his life. The song resonated with many Zimbabweans and allowed the artist and his newfound success to go on to release several other hits including "African Queen" and "Tushiri."

Daruler

Daruler or 'mambokadzi' (which translates to 'queen') as she's popularly known, started out doing backing vocals for Lady Squanda on her track "Rudo." Thereafter, she was mentored by fellow dancehall artist Freeman and went on to produce a slew of popular tracks including "Mangoma Hatimire," "Pemberera Life" and "Ndakanyarara."

Freeman

Similar to Winky D, Freeman is a veteran of Zimbabwean dancehall. His debut track "Joiner City" catapulted him into the spotlight where he has since stayed and produced numerous hits such as "Shaina Mwana Iwe," "Doctor Wemagitare," and "Handina Godo." Unlike Soul Jah Love, Freeman has collaborated with Alick Macheso and their joint track "Ngaibake" became quite popular. Additionally, he's also collaborated with the majority of Zimbabwe's dancehall artists.

Jah Prayzah

While some may argue that Jah Prayzah has pivoted towards Afropop in recent years, a large part of his music career has been in dancehall. Known for his signature aesthetic of wearing military regalia, Jah Prayzah or 'Musoja' as he is often referred to by his fans, is perhaps the most successful cross-over artist who's not only popular with Zimbabweans in the country but abroad as well. His numerous hit songs include "Dangerous," "Ngwarira Kuparara," and "Sendekere," a track he did with South African Afropop duo Mafikizolo.

Interview

Kofi Jamar Switches Lanes In 'Appetite for Destruction'

The Ghanaian rapper and "Ekorso" hitmaker presents a different sound in his latest EP.

The drill scene in Ghana has been making waves across the continent for some time now. If you're hip to what a crop of young and hungry artists from the city of Kumasi in Ghana and beyond have been doing over the past year, then you already know about rapper Kofi Jamar.

Towards the end of November last year he dropped one of the biggest drill songs to emerge from Ghana's buzzing drill scene, the popular street anthem "Ekorso." In the December and January that followed, "Ekorso" was the song on everyone's lips, the hip-hop song that took over the season, with even the likes of Wizkid spotted vibing to the tune.

Currently sitting at over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms, the song topped charts, even breaking records in the process. "Ekorso" maintained the number one spot on Apple Music's Hip-Hop/Rap: Ghana chart for two months uninterrupted, a first in the history of the chart. It also had a good stint at number one of the Ghana Top 100 chart as well, among several other accolades.

Even though he's the creator of what could be the biggest song of Ghana's drill movement till date, Kofi Jamar doesn't plan on replicating his past music or his past moves. He has just issued his second EP, a 6-track project titled Appetite for Destruction, and it would surprise you to know that there isn't a single drill song on it. Although drill played a huge role in his meteoric rise, he wants to be known as way more than just a drill rapper. He wants to be known as a complete and versatile artist, unafraid to engage in any genre — and he even looks forward to creating his own genre of music during the course of his career.

We spoke to Kofi Jamar about his latest EP, and he tells us about working with Teni, why he's gravitating away from drill to a new sound, and more. Check out our conversation below.

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