Over the past five years, Zimbabwe has seen Rodney Beatz making a name for himself by producing hits for several music stars. From humble beginnings in Marondera, Rodney Tendai Gabriel Sibanda had no idea music was going to write his success story.
He was introduced to music production on FL studio by some motivated friends and no one would have guessed that peer influence would facilitate the rise of a competent player in Zimbabwe’s music industry.
After switching careers a couple of times on a mission to make his family proud, music gave the last call and he definitely does not regret taking that path.
Rodney’s career saw him working at Sunshine Studios, where he worked with award winning Zimdancehall artist Freeman. In 2015 he joined acclaimed producers Levels and Fantan of Chillspot records from where he was noticed and invited to join Kenako Music in February 2016. He had his big break in March 2018, when he joined Jah Prayzah’s JP Entertainment upon being invited by his friend in the game Dj Tamuka. To date, Rodney sees JP Entertainment as his home and from where he continues to create banging music.
His journey has taught him so much, with under a decade in the industry his success has been informed by the reality that passion needs to be coupled with hard work and strategy.
His hit catalogue includes Nutty O (Vroom), Exq (Nzenza, Wakatemba ‘co-produced’) and Jah Prayzah (Donhodzo, Murder). Incase you have been living under a rock in the past week, you have already been exposed to his sound on Jah Prayzah’s ‘Murder’ from the recently released Gwara album which is accompanied by incredible visuals by Blaqs.
Three time ‘Battle of the Beat Makers’ champion and a relevant piece to the ‘Battle of the Beat Makers’ judging panel, Rodney is decorated with nominations for Best Producer (Star FM, GLAM and ZIMA Awards) and Best Stable with Dj Tamuka (Changamire Awards). Despite not pocketing an actual award, it’s needless to say that the exceptional young man is worth his weight in gold. Here is earGROUND in a conversation with the producer (RS) on his experience, success and more.
FM: As you introduce yourself, please share with us in brief, What makes Rodney Beatz unique from other producers?
RS: I don’t know if I can say there’s anything that makes me “unique”. We are all unique. We’ve all had different musical influences, different life experiences, different journeys into the industry which all influence our choice of sound. However, My sound is unique just because I do a lot of experiments. It comes from different genres. I get inspiration from. Simply put I love music and the different ways it allows me to be expressive.
FM:Taking you back to 2013/14 before the music,, back to the time as I paraphrase your bio “when you did not envision yourself being able to put food on the table from what you were doing let alone actually becoming a recognized player in the industry.” Who was Rodney set out to be then? What did you believe to be your career of choice at that time?
RS: Like any young person. I wanted to be successful. To make my Mom, my Dad and my siblings proud. Actually I was gonna be a pharmacist. Had already gotten my things sorted and ready to start school. I also wanted to be a software engineer and I actually went to school for it and dropped out. I had my eye on a number of careers but music always seemed to call me the loudest.
FM: We are grateful you stayed in music. So Rodney, you started beat making with no formal training. Did you later get any qualifications to complement your experience?
RS: I have done a lot of online courses so that I can get better. I still do. Jah Prayzah has a budget for that.
Lol.. I self taught myself to produce.
FM: Your bio mentioned you spent some time away from music and took up a job at Zesa. What lessons did you gain from that experience that you are using in music now?
RS: There are no skills I gained from Zesa that I’m using in Music. But it motivates me to work harder because I was struggling when I was there.
FM: Three time ‘Battle of the Beat Makers’ champion and a relevant piece to the ‘Battle of the Beat Makers’ judging panel plus nominations for: STAR FM, ZIMA and GLAM AWARDS. How have these achievements helped your career thus far?
RS: It really just feels good to have your work acknowledged and recognized. I don’t believe we’re in a competition but when you get the nod and stand out, it’s a source of encouragement to keep going.
FM: With about 5 years in music production, have you seen the music industry evolve ( in Zimbabwe) over the years and what lessons have you learnt through your journey?
RS: We are definitely evolving, we are growing, we are learning. We are realizing that we are strong together and therefore collaborating more. We are realizing the “value” we can extract from building strong brands. We’re learning business skills.
FM: You have worked with different artists and producers including DJ Fantan, Jah Prayzah, Nutty O, Dj Tamuka, Tamy and Cindy all with different vibes. How has that influenced your approach to music production and who can you say has had the most effect on your sound?
RS: The thing about the music industry not only in Zimbabwe but universally is that no two creatives are the same. Even if they seem to sound the same, the creative process is different for each one. I have learnt so much by collaborating and sometimes just watching other artists and producers. Sometimes I can even pick up someone else’s influence on a production. As they say, there is nothing new under the sun, we feed off and into each other.
FM: You mentioned that joining JP Entertainment was a huge break for you. Can you share your experience on working with Zimbabwean Music Icons like Jah Prayzah among many other A list artists?
RS: I enjoy working with artists at different levels because creativity is a beautiful thing at any level. I guess the pressure and anxiety comes as the artist gets “bigger” because you know the audience is bigger and the feedback louder.
FM: That leads us to ‘Murder’ what can you say about the track and how it is performing since release?
RS: What happened when we came up with murder is we were actually looking for a bubblegum song. Very obvious, just like donhodzo. It was very hard to do it because we were trying to run away from old JP songs. The response to ‘Murder’ has honestly been overwhelming. It’s always such an amazing feeling to see a production so well received.
FM: That’s clearly not the only hit with your sound on it. What can you name as your most satisfying work from all the music you have produced this far? And why?
RS: So every production is like my child. Even though they perform differently in the market, to me they are all my sweat and effort. I’m not sure I can really single one out. But if I were to I would have to say ‘Murder’ which you mentioned, simply because it’s the one currently trending and performing very well.
FM: Smart answer right there. Well if say you were to do a top 5 ranking of songs you produced, how would it look?
RS: Lol my list would be Jah Prayzah chete. But umm Nutty O – Vroom, Tamy Moyo ft Jah Prayzah – Kuteera,
3. Holy Ten – Mwana Ndakubirai, 4 Jah Prayzah – Kumahumbwe and 5. ExQ ft Freeman – Nzenza
FM: Looking at music as a business, is there money in the music industry?
RS: There is definitely money in the industry but we have not fully unpacked the full potential of the industry. I’m encouraged by the effort I see being made by players in the industry in identifying more lucrative distribution channels, securing endorsements, creating merchandise etc. We are making moves towards commercializing our craft and treating it as a business not just a hobby.
FM: What do you do besides music?
RS:I have a few side businesses that I engage in.
I sell clothes and I am also doing small-scale farming in Marondera.As young people it’s important to build multiple streams of income. Only hard work will secure the future you want.
FM: Would you recommend a career in the music industry for your child and why?
RS:I would recommend a career in any industry including music if one has done their due diligence and planned out their career path. Passion is just one element, one must also have knowledge, resources and a strategy. There are so many careers to pursue in music from production, management, distribution to publicity and more.
FM: Any upcoming work or collaborations with other artists we should look forward to?
RS: I’m always in the studio, always creating and experimenting. There’s always something new coming up. I’m excited about a couple of upcoming projects but it’s too early to speak about them. But coming out of a big project like Gwara one also needs to just sit back, rest and enjoy watching the project grow and have a life of its own.
With a sound that continues to evolve and grow, Rodney’s passion is to make music that will surpass generations, transcend all human barriers and bring people together. Here is to hoping that he continues making music that helps people capture moments that live forever. Connect with Rodney Beatz on