The World of Hip Hop in Zimbabwe

The World of Hip Hop in Zimbabwe

In 2022 a song emerged that arguably changed the musical landscape of Zimbabwe. The song went on to win various awards including the ‘Song of the Year’ award at the 2023 National Arts Merit Awards in Zimbabwe. This song was the Hip Hop song, ‘Fire Emoji’.

‘Fire Emoji’ is originally a trio effort featuring Leo Magozz, Bling4 and Brian Jeck. It later spewed two remixes. One of the two versions featured a host of Zimbabwean Hip Hop artists and emerged as one of the biggest songs to emerge out of the country at the time and also a large springboard for the greater recognition of Hip Hop music; Zim Hip Hop as it is affectionally known.

The Zimbabwean Hip Hop scene has been described as “medium sized but growing”. Its grassroots can be traced back to the 1990s when Hip Hop not only surged across the tiny country but across the world. Early practitioners of the music include Piece of Ebony (a Hip Hop group that emerged in the 1990s and collaborated with Chiwoniso Maraire). They are also credited with releasing the first Hip Hop album in Zimbabwe (their debut album ‘From The Native Tongue’ released in 1991).

A Peace Of Ebony – Vuka (Don’t Slow It Down). Performed by Peace Of Ebony band members Herbert”Qwela”Schwamborn Tony”Chief”Chihota Chiwoniso”Chi”Maraire Director Nic Hofmeyer Producer Pam Harris

Arguably one of Zimbabwe’s most recognized artists from the 2000s is Maskiri (Born Alishias Musimbe) who emerged in the ‘urban grooves’ era in Zimbabwe. Maskiri is famed for his innovative rhymes which have entertained generations from time and time again while also at times raising concerns on the lyrical content. Hip Hop being a genre that is often associated with promoting messages of alcohol and substance abuse, misogyny and crime has been the subject of censorship throughout the years. Zimbabwean artists have not been spared this issue.

In spite of this, Maskiri has stands a symbol or Zimbabwean Hip Hop recently being awarded an ‘All National Excellence Enterprise Award’ for ‘Pioneering Zim Hip Hop’ as the citation read. Other famous rappers to emerge include Stunner, Tehn Diamond and Mudiwa Hood.

Now the genre is one of the most listened to genres across the nations, inspired by artists such as Holy Ten, Voltz JT, Takura, Bling4, Ti Gonzi and Saint Floew to mention only a few. The music has become socially conscious highlighting issues such as dating, depression, suicide and substance abuse. On the side of female rappers, Kikky Badass is the most recognized as the foremost female rapper in the nation. Other female rappers finding beside her include Natasha Muz, Young Gemini and Millz Million.

TatendaLXA, Bagga, Tha Bees, Boy Nino, Kayflow. Kikky Badass, Crooger – Chiraa (Official Video)

Zimbabwe also has a gospel scene that brags of a number of artists vying for attention. Some Chrisitan rappers in Zimbabwe include Jason Gwanzura, J Soldier and LeonMwanaWaJose to mention a few. Zimbabwe’s diaspora includes rappers such as Emmy Award winner Draze (Dumisani Maraire) who incorporates his Zimbabwean heritage into his work. Zimbabwe also hosts its own Zim Hip Hop Awards to recognize its Hip Hop fraternity.

Though described as growing, a closer look presents an industry that has grown both in visibility and aesthetic while catering to people of various generations and interests. The Zimbabwean Hip Hop industry has grown and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Kudzai Mhangwa

Kudzai Mhangwa is a writer, actor and musician. He writes poetry, plays, essays and short stories. His work has been featured on House of Mutapa, Atrebla Magazine, Ka'edi Africa, Poetry Soup and elsewhere.

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