10 disruptive outfits from Zimbabwe changing the sound of Hip Hop

Zimbabwe has one of the longest running hip hop scenes on the African continent. The teapot shaped country keeps brewing and pouring out some of the finest hip hop heads across the different elements, the world needs to pause and give an ear to the new amazing voices and sounds rising.

By Plot Mhako

There are a number of artists who are experimenting with native sounds, influences and elements to create new beautiful flavours and sub-genres. A look at some of the pioneering hip hop outfits from Zimbabwe such as A Peace of Ebony and Zimbabwe Legit show that this trend has for long been embedded in the DNA of the local hip hop communities.

1. Tanto Wavie

Tanto Wavie, a young Zimbabwean hip hop musician, known for coming up with an exciting sub-genre which he calls TrapSu short for Trap Sungura. Sungura is a Zimbabwean music style combining the guitar work of Soukous with the speed and texture of Benga and the strong bass of Township Jive. This is the most popular genre in the country. Tanto brilliantly strips the melody to extract some fine elements which he adapts in his flow and instrumentation whilst maintaining a Hip Hop tempo and blow by blow delivery.

Tanto Wavie’s recent project Sungura Museve 007 is a masterpiece worth your ear.

Tanto Wavie

2. Taylor Wayne Jiti Rapper

Rapper Tatenda “Taylor Wayne” Mzinde is a creative genius working on mastering a sub-genre he calls jiti rap. The soon 23-year-old artist from Harare fuses hiphop with Zimbabwean traditional sounds of Mbira and Jit a style of popular Zimbabwean dance music. It features a swift rhythm played on drums and accompanied by a guitar. Jit evolved out many diverse influences, including Chimurenga and captivating rhythmic chants. He is definitely one artist to check out.

Taylor Wayne’s body of work speaks clearly into a bright musical future deeply rooted in heritage and his love for Hip Hop.

3. Nevile Sigauke _ Mbira Dzehip hop

Mbira DzeHip Hop as he like to call himself, Neville Sigauke is a 28 year old Zimbabwean Hip Hop artist living in South Africa. Despite the distance, the young MC still drapes around in his traditional garb, sound and narratives. Tapping into some folklore, mixing it with some beatboxing, Hip Hop beats, the traditional Zimbabwean Mbira sound and serving a delicious potpourri of melody and verses.

His approach to Hip Hop gives a refreshing vibe, something the world needs to hear.

4. Awa khiwe

The Queen of Hip Hop! Based in Germany, Awa Khiwe is undoubtedly one of Zimbabwe’s biggest cultural exports. She pioneered a unique sound, a fusion of Hip Hop and her Ndebele culture. Dressed in her beautiful traditional costumes, she uniquely raps in her mother tongue Ndebele, which has a lot of click sounds. Her fast paced, energetic Ndebele and English rap tackles issues like Gender-Based Violence, child marriages, social problems in Zimbabwe, Politics and many other issues.

Awa Khiwe had the biggest record on Skyz Metro FM in 2021 (NGEKE BENGIMELE). The Queen is conquering home and abroad.

Already traversing the world, Awa Khiwe is telling authentic stories in her native style something awe inspiring.

5. Draze  

Born Dumi Maraire Jr, Draze is the latest member of a premier musical family of Zimbabwe to emerge as a high-profile U.S. artist.  He is the son of the great Mbira player the late Dumisani Maraire, Sr. and Lora (Sukutai) Chiorah-Dye. Draze’s compositions, sound and style are distinctively unique. He is combining traditional sounds from his Zimbabwean roots, the melodic harmonies, Ndebele and Shona-laced chorus, Marimba, Mbira and strings pulled from the continent. Growing up in the ghettos of America and raised within a Zimbabwean musical family, his music is an embodiment of a rooted cultural symbol. 

Draze is the complete Hip Hop artist, a songwriter, producer, and musician. 

Draze’s music is featured on numerous TV shows, advertisements, and films. With more than 100 placements, Draze is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after songwriters on the Hollywood scene.  

6. Dough Major & Ding’o

Dough Major is a Zimbabwean rapper, singer, songwriter and record executive. He was born and raised in Tynwald, Harare. DING’O born Munyaradzi Dzwekesu is a  rapper and community builder hailing from Kuwadzana Phase III, Harare. These two creatives are at the forefront of pushing a sub-genre they call Shebeen Rap.

Shebeen rap embodies the story of the Ghetto hustle.

DING’O describes SHEBEEN RAP is a sub-genre of HIP HOP that is fused with elements of future bass, 1990s Kwaito. A Shebeen is an unlicensed establishment or private house selling alcohol and typically regarded as slightly disreputable. Such watering holes became prominent in the 90s in several countries in Southern Africa. Despite the bad tag that is often associated with the spots, the joints are a melting pot for people where drinks, music, and stories meet. Such is the power of a new Hip Hop sub-genre called Shabeen Rap.

Ding’o
Dough Major

7. Shumba Masai

Zimbabwean-born, London-based artist Shumba Maasai mixes Hip hop, UK Drill, Jazz and Afro sounds to create an out of this world melody. In his music he plays with the complexity of identity in the diaspora community, lyrically combining the London experience with his Zimbabwean identity. 

Shumba is a real innovator with a promising future as evidenced by his unique ability to synthesise different sounds and influences, resulting in a fusion that is innovative, ambitious, rooted and ahead of his time.

8. Dumi Right  

US based Dumi Right, is a performing artist, MC, and songwriter, who has been recognized as a standard bearer in global and progressive hip hop circles for many years. He was first introduced to audiences during hip hop’s golden age as a member of Zimbabwe Legit, one of the first hip hop groups coming from Africa to gain widespread international recognition. He has always looked for ways to incorporate his cultural influences and background into his music from the very beginning. Even his debut album years back included African percussion, Zimbabwean mbira and other sounds on a song called “Rhymin’ With the African Symphony.”

Dumi Right is combining Hip Hop, Mbira and Imbube.

His accomplishments have been documented in mass media worldwide including prominent publications such as Billboard Magazine, The Source and academic works of hip hop history including the books Say It Loud! The Story of Rap Music by K. Maurice Jones and The Rap Wars by Trisha Rose.

Dumi Right _ No Turning Back ft. Indosakusa The Morning Star

9. Dimitri & The Scarecrow

Dimitri & The Scarecrow is an Alternative Hip-Hop concept developed by Zimbabwean Dimitri DKwenda is an Emcee, songwriter, singer and producer who has been active since 2012 in Harare, Zimbabwe and has been living in different countries since 2016. Currently based in Kampala, Uganda, the artist is phenomenal.

The world ain’t ready for this Hip Hop genius!

Dimitri & The Scarecrow is a musical act incorporating Hip-Hop, spoken word and an alternative fusion to address social issues from a subjective point of view. Already rocking the East African community, the artist is nothing but amazing.

10. Malcom Mufunde

Malcom Takurira Mufunde born on the 29th of November 1996 is a Zimbabwean rapper and songwriter from Chitungwiza. Undoubtedly he is one of the finest MCs we have. His deep understanding of the ghetto struggles, ability to wax lyrical whilst holding up his flow and delivery is compelling to the ear. Whats more fascinating is his deep lyricism and choice of beats. He goes unconventional with beats that a lot from his generation may not be accustomed to.

Digging from the past, creating the future, laced with reality and emotion, his style is what the world needs to experience right now.

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