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Main Oan Pack – A preamble to the artistry of RayKaz in a 3 act virtuoso

Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE), a gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.

Main Oan Pack – A preamble to the artistry of RayKaz in a 3 act virtuoso

Rap critics revel in the Shakespearean appeal of hip hop. Sometimes a bit pretentious in nature as those with discerning ears sit in uncontested omniscience. To avoid railroading this fantasy in your heads let us just say rap, lyrical rap specifically is not the most appealing facet of hip hop in this era of streaming. Attention spans have shortened and so have the length of songs, all because audiences now veer towards rhythm over substance.

By Takudzwa Kadzura & Mukudzei Mlambo

Words already sound nice but not when they give listeners a torrid time. For Zimbabwe, the rap scene has largely been inaccessible. What is there for everyone to see, however, is that in recent years there has been a growth in attention to the wordsmiths and those whose biggest strengths are in weaving nouns and verbs in novel ways. Could this year be for the lyricist? We get to review a rap album by Borrowdale based rapper, RayKaz titled Main Oan Pack which dropped on the 10th of April this year. 

The conversation around Zimbabwean hip hop is familiar with the name RayKaz. He is halfway through the process of solidifying his brand as one of the best rappers motherland has. Key attributes such as lyrical composition, a sharp ear for soothing instrumentals and cadence (rhythmic flow) have made Raykaz an artist to be both revered and respected. 

An album curtails the person’s thought processes on a scale that communicate relatable experiences hence the idea of selling it. There is absolutely no market for a product that people do not need or want in the least. This review is a virtual description of the product. It intends to dwell on specific substances which we think are essential parts of the total sum – Main Oan Pack.”

RayKaz, born Ray Kazembe as with most artists subscribes to the Martin Scorcese school of thought. “The most personal is the most creative” and RayKaz has never been one to shy away from sharing the trauma that has been a longstanding pillar of his artistry. From the days of his debut offering “Anxious Confidence”, a journey which served as a sonic journal to RayKaz’s life, with each song mirroring the struggles of social anxiety and the braggadocio the hip hop culture demands of the then 23 year old rapper. Fast forward 4 years later, with newfound confidence and a strong sense of self, RayKaz offers his second full length project “Main Oan Pack” which also doubles as the first act to what Harare native rapper dubs as “Kazzy Szn”  

The album explores themes of family relations – particularly father and son dynamics, RayKaz’s standing in the culture, loss, grief and as is standard protocol in hip hop, an exhibition of lyrical dexterity and rapping prowess.The album opens on a somber note with Tanzania Insomnia, with an aggrieved Ray detailing his frustrations over the friends he has lost over the years while navigating the struggles that come with living up to his father’s legacy. Self aware as ever, RayKaz points the finger to himself when he spits, “The price for me to give a sh_t was not in my budget for life/ Wish you a wonderful life. I’m my father’s son I’m as stubborn as can be/ I’d rather perish on my knees than be standin’ on defeat(da feet)/

This petulant attitude is reiterated in the second verse as he opens up on the dynamics of his contentious relationship with his father, detailing how they are not on speaking terms unless their conversations are alcohol induced. “Me and the consummated my seed bearer. We are stuck in our teen era/ Silent treatment sequence everytime that beef flares up” … “Only time we truced up when of us drinkin’ and sh_t , Glenfiddich for me, Double Black for he”

A consistent theme in RayKaz’s music has been the ability to mesh contrasting themes in his projects through smart sequencing. His debut offering Anxious Confidence was clad with this style and Main Oan Pack is no different as the second track KINGSKI can attest. It features South African based peer Lucretius and serves as the first radio friendly record on the LP. Light in tone but heavy on the DXNXLLIO led production, Lucretius and RayKaz trade bars over eardrum bursting 808s and catchy strings. The song has a simple hook, one which you’d suspect would translate well on live shows. It also samples some vocals in the intro from social media influencer David Goggins highlighting this song as a fun, lyrical exercise.

Consistent with the oxymoron-style sequencing, the 3rd track is a double record, split in two as it tackles loss of friendships through petty clashes over women affections. There’s a strong sense of “us against the world” as RayKaz joins forces with 9xne. The former then delves deeper into one friendship he grieves but admits to be too proud to reach out for reconciliation. Channel Drive is the first song on this LP to address a fallout between Ray and long time partner in rap, Netherlands based artist, Fuse, with the two rumored to be working on a joint collaboration as part of the 3 project release plan for 2024. This record also subtly states the intention of Main Oan Pack’s release; which is to serve as a preamble to the upcoming solo album by Ray titled, “Those Around Me”

“Those Around Me Tape probably coming soon, sorry for the wait it’s really not my fault/ Had a situation with my zodie Fuse, soured the relations we don’t even talk” 

kin Staples ropes in Kurry Suave as both artists show their skill and chemistry over an American West Coast style production from the talented IndrAE. RayKaz continues to tease his upcoming project `Those Around Me ” as the song splits again into a more gritty and grunchy 808 heavy instrumental with Kurry Suave closing out the record for a smooth transition into Dog Pound. The 4minute melody comes in detailing in not so subtle ways how RayKaz has lost his belief in finding true love and thus has resigned to what can only be described in colloquial terms as “F boy tendencies”. He doubles down on this resignation on Mandi’s Advice, giving an exposition on how he has lost interest in love, aside from the primary fact that his then girl was taken from him by someone he considered a friend. He grieves losing his grandfather and sister to cancer and ironically this somehow helps RayKaz proverbially “move on ” from the romantic heartbreak and focus on acquiring wealth and cementing his father’s legacy as teased in the intro track per Mandi’s advice. He solidifies this by rapping, “Mandi told me f_ck the hesitation, just go for it/ This time next year lets have something to show for it”… “Need us in Bahamas with the guyses and wivesdem/ Sippin’ on coladas as the silence bring reminders that we made it out the rat race” 

In what serves as the palate cleanser, Big Honcho timely comes in to diffuse the tension from the preceding track. A bouncy log-drum laden Suhn produced bop ushers the second half of the album which is best characterized by arguably the strongest lyrical offering from RayKaz in Alone. This don’t worry-produced elegy is the first point in the album we get to experience RayKaz addressing the trauma he has been hiding throughout the whole project. He tackles thoughts of suicide and feelings of dessertion with a plea to anyone who can listen to swoop in to make a save. Unattended to, the record finishes with sounds of a gunshot, seemingly killing the protagonist of this story, or poignantly the caricature of who Ray is. We see the latter no longer present as Nitch Bigga fades in, fittingly starting at a live show, with the voice of a young lady screaming for RayKaz the artist to commence his performance; either of a song or of a character the fans want to see.

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As soon as the performance ends, assisted by VR4T, also RayKaz’s brother, we get a record that almost sounds antithetical to what Ray has been contesting throughout the LP regarding friendship. RayKaz dedicates Zay and The Zodies to the friends and peers that have kept him going as an artist. The song recounts his much heralded rap battle with fellow lyricist Donne Jovi at Moto Republik which was packed with industry leaders and culture opinion leaders. It is arguably the most sentimental record on the album as well and serves to remind the listener that Ray still believes in friendship and the essence of community. True to the spirit which was present at the rap battle, Ray gives us a preview of what a lyrical rap battle with him would sound like on Road to TAMT, short for Road To Those Around Me Tape, the last shout out to his upcoming solo album. A whole new article would be the right way to dissect this verse but the Cannibus sample at the end of the record best sums up what this lyrical exhibition is, 

Main Oan season is only starting, even though Wardell(GOAT Sh_t) perfectly closes out this album perfectly summing up the spirit of hip hop – competition and collaboration. RayKaz exhibits arguably his best rapping here, showing a wide range of cadence switches while dabbling in interesting flow pockets. The prodigious Liam Leezy also shines on this record, showing that despite his young age, he is not to be trifled with. Kazzy Szn is here and this album is a perfect getaway to what looks like the Year of Lyricists in Zimbabwe. Although it is part of a rollout plan, time will tell whether it can stand on its own regardless of its consistent pointing to what Ray is yet to offer this year. 

As we continue wandering, the fate of rappers in Zimbabwe is one that has transformed given significant traction it has gained in the last three years. One could bet that the evolution currently taking place in the music industry foretell an oncoming transformation of urban culture. Rappers are for the most part of their duty, the dark horses. Caution must be clear that these horses are also well polished in time for the race.

We remain aware of the fact that everyone has their way of drinking water. As well as it is acknowledged that hip hop is a community where the media, the fans and promoters want to be active participants. A reality that cannot be negotiated.”

Listen to the album using attached links and give us your out of ten rating (1/10) in the comment section.

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Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE)
A gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.
Truly, for the culture.

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