Know Your Music: Zimbabwe's Top Music Producers

Zimbabwe's Top Music Producers

As an urban and music magazine, our job and mandate is to look out for the best and trendiest people and things, on planet earth. With music being our passion, we have a good ear for what's hot and what's not. So, having gone through a couple of interviews with our local music producers and also having an opportunity to follow their musical careers, we have compiled a list, in no particular order, of Zimbabwe's music producers who have what it takes to produce world class superstars and super beats.

But before we unveil our list, here's our list of world producers whose beats we love and notably looking at their musical success in 2013 (again in no particular order):

INTERNATIONAL

Timbaland
He has a distinct drum bass in almost all his productions, so when we talk about 'urban' music, we talk about Timbo himself. His career spans over two decades and he has always had sounds that were ahead of their time. He has worked with the late Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Madonna, Jay Z, Flo Rida, Katy Perry, from time to time, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce on her track "Grown Woman" of her successful audio-visual album.

Stargate

So this Norwegian team consisting of Tor Erik Hermansen, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, and Hallgeir Rustan, can make any good song from any genre, think "Unfaithful", "Irreplaceable", "I Call It Love", "Beautiful Liar", "With You", "Only Girl (In the World)" and "Black and Yellow". These guys are geniuses par excellence and are Grammy hit makers.


Mike Will Made It

Who doesn't want to work with this guy? Think "Mercy" by GOOD Music, "No Lie" by 2 Chainz, "Bandz a Make Her Dance" by Juicy J, "Pour It Up" by Rihanna, "Love Me" by Lil Wayne, "Body Party" by Ciara and "We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus. He has changed the sound  of hip-hop and has made those club bangers that people love so much. He even won Producer of the Year at the 2013 BET Awards.







David Guetta

You know how in entertainment, when one trend is set everybody follows? Apparently French producer David Guetta gave a twist to popular music where most artistes from the R&B, hip-hop and Pop music genres crossed over to Euro Electro Dance music. Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Ne-Yo, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Akon and of course the Black Eyed Peas, he has worked with them all, making the years 2010 through to 201,3 notably the years of dance. In 2013 he worked with Ashanti on her album Braveheart, Ludacris on "Rest of My Life", Timbaland on "Pass at Me" (co-produced with Timbaland), Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

      
AFRICAN

Sarz (Nigeria)


He produced major hits for superstars such as Wizkid on his hit single Jaiye Jaiye and majority of eLDee’s most recent album.

Don Jazzy (Nigeria)

Oliver Twist which is arguably the biggest exported song directly out of Africa in recent memory was produced by none other than Don Jazzy. After the separation from D’banj and the demise of the Mo’hits brand, Jazzy went on to start Mavin records which housed Tiwa Savage, D’Prince, Dr SID and Wande Coal. And kudos to the "Exporter''!

Shizzi (Nigeria)

Produced the hit singles for Davido, Gobe and Skelewu. He also produced songs for other notable acts such as May D on his debut album and Wizkid (Body) off the EME All Star Compilation album.

Fliptyce (Nigeria)

Produced Chop My Money remix featuring Akon & May D which was a huge success all over the African continent.

Uhuru (South African)

Trio group Uhuru is a compilation of young and upcoming producers discovered by Kalawa Jazmee. The threesomes are passionate producers who love to fuse African sound into their music. They have produced hit tracks such as Mafikizolo’s current popular track Khona and even working alongside Louie Vega. And who isn't loving their current hit "Ytjukutja".

Black Coffee (South Africa)

We at Groove are coffee addicts and we love it black (and that's not a punchline). If you love house music, then the sounds of Black Coffee will make your cup, because this man knows sheer perfection. His sounds are a blend of authentic African percussion, soulful melodies complemented by thoughtful lyrics and beautiful vocals, think of Bucie and Zakes Bantwini. His sound is now synonymous with South African house and with a number of awards and international tours under his belt, we now know why.


Oskido (South Africa)

Who doesn't know Oskido, like seriously? He is the rock of Kalawa Jazmee and a pioneering musician/producer of the Kwaito genre. Under his belt Brothers Of Peace (BOP), Professor, DJ Zinhle, Uhuru, Mafikizolo, Spikiri and many others. Most of the kwaito/house party jams you can think of, he is the brains behind them, (and we are proud to say that he is actually a Zimbabwean product). And he won the Special Recognition Award at the 2012 Channel O African Music Video Awards, (and it was about time). We salute you Oskido!


Now drums roll. Who do we think are the top music producers in Zim? To our readers, please consider that we picked these producers from an industry point of view, analyzing the quality of sound and all the technical stuff, so this is not by popularity polls.Here we go:


Mix Masterz International

Comprising of brothers Shingirayi "Shayzar" Zimanyi and Patrick “DJ Trickx” Zimanyi, and friend Ronny ''J Drizz" Jokonya. They are the go-to producers and have their own radio show on Zim's urban radio station, ZiFM Stereo. These guys have a good, clean sound and their beats are competitive on the international arena. Having listened to their compilations courtesy of the Mix Masterz themselves, these guys are the ones to work with. Currently they are promoting one talented rapper, Karma and we recommend that you get your hands on the young artist's album, "Chasing Moments"; these guys produce mostly R&B, Hip-hop sounds and J Drizz is into Electro dance. The Mix Masterz have also worked with GZE, FTR, Fio, Cindy, Pauline, Metaphysics, Blackbird, the late Amelia, Q-Rigga, Mariachi, MC Chita, and Carlprit, among many others.

Why are they top?: Everybody wants to work with them, simple. And yes, they are fantastic!

Block 101

Comprising of Evans Dube and Brighton (Dexter), Block 101 is a futuristic label. Having worked with the likes of Tererai Mugwadi, Taurayi Mandebvu, Maskiri, Reckless Damage and Sanii Makhalima and produced a compilation of upcoming artistes such as Varaidzo, J Boss, Shamz, Thari Khris, Tricky-T, Ta$h, Codacane, Sio-P, amongst many others, these guys have a great head over their shoulders and a good vision. To their resume, they have had collaborations with the Nigerian artist Mark Hayes and UK producer Bill Van. Nice! Varaidzo, who is their successful R&B artist, is doing well and she has a promising future. They produce R&B, hip-hop, dub step, urban grooves, dancehall and house.

Why are they top?: Read our first issue of Groove Magazine and find out.

Simba Tagz

So we had a one-on-one a while back with the emcee/producer, and for someone who has been taking Southern Africa by storm, he is one humble guy. So Simba, whose full name is Simbarashe Tagwireyi is a new breed of producers, who has worked with the likes of South African industry hopefuls and
heavyweights such as Skwatta Kamp, F-eezy, Reason, Zubz, Young Nations, Kabomo and locally most of the young talents including Tehn Diamond, Junior Brown, Shingi Mangoma, Davina Green, Ammara Brown, amongst many others. He plays around with his sound however he is mostly hip-hop.

Why he is top?: Listen to the radio, then you will know, that this young man literally eats, sleeps and breathes music and that's what makes him so good.

Reverb 7

The moment that we heard "Honai", we knew that it was a hit. Showtime Records is insane, like seriously? How did John Mahalu, popularly known as Reverb 7, come up with his sound, which is a fusion of house, Afrocentric and electrocentric sounds.Coming from the same stable as Simba Tagz, Reverb 7 has worked with similar artistes and is currently working on his third album, "Reverb 7&Friends" and is working with Shingi Mangoma, Courtney Rusike, Adiona Chidzonga, Fungai Nengare, amongst others.

Why he is top?: Authentically Zimbabwean house sound, that's him!

Take Fizzo

Can we Bluetooth a high five to this guy, or something? Wow! Tatenda Jenami, once known as Take Five but these days is Take Fizzo, took a music 'genre' or 'çulture' per se to a whole new level back in the early 2000s. With the success of two compilation albums under the "urban grooves'' umbrella, Chamhembe Volume 1 and Chamhembe Plus, and now being part one of the hottest hip-hop groups in Zimbabwe, Few Kings, Take Fizzo not only knows how to make music but understands the fundamentals of great, hit tracks. Okay, so he produced Mafriq, Roki, Xtra Large, Tererai Mugwadi, Stunner, Taurai Mandebvu, Nembo Bhway, 2BG, Nox, Diana Samkange, Wreckless, 3rinity, Maskiri, Jnr Brown, Jay Boss, Dizzy Don, Tehn Diamond and many more. Now solidly into hip-hop, Take Fizzo is showing as much genius in this genre as he has done in the past and if one reads his twitter handle, he is aiming high,"Grammy Or Die Tryin' " and we believe that is achievable Mr Jenami.

Why he is top?: Just listen to the Chamhembe series then you will understand how this guy was way ahead of his time, plus Few Kings is bringing on their A-game to the Zim hip-hop scene.

Delani Makhalima

Once upon a time, there was a young man, probably in his early 20s, who had a vision of making music and creating a culture that is Zimbabwean and proud. In the early 2000s, he was known by the name "Step-aside" and produced one of the pioneering compilations under the umbrella "urban grooves", "The Future: Shamiso" which consisted of Plaxedes Wenyika, David Chifunyise, Roy &Royce, Shamiso Gomo, Sanii Makhalima and Decibel, and then went on to produce Roki, Leonard Mapfumo, M'afriq, Tererai Mugwadi and many more. So with that said, it may be befitting to call him, according to his twitter handle, "The Godfather". He recently returned to Zimbabwe after studying and working in South Africa as a radio personality at one of the biggest urban radio stations, Metro FM and has moved to, and is working at yet another urban radio station, ZiFM Stereo. We haven't heard any of his most recent productions so as to see his growth as a music producer, but we believe that with the exposure to the S.A. music and urban scene, he will use his knowledge to continue with the "vision". What would be best is if he started a competitive record label with a skilled team of producers, engineers, songwriters, artist managers and promoters, etc, signing on a few talented artistes whom he can really groom and mentor and uphold appropriate international music business ethics, so as to create a standard that makes the industry and Zimbabwean music viable. And after listening to his radio show, his taste in the R&B and soul genres could make him a very strong producer in those particular genres; and might well make him a sought after producer on the continent.

Why he is top?: He is a talented visionary and having his kind of exposure, is a plus.

Audius Mtawarira

Did you all know that Audius Mtawarira co-wrote and produced Jessica Mauboy's 2008 hit, "Coming Back", featuring U.S rapper, Flo Rida? Well yes he did,so if this was a top 5 or top 10 list, we would have put him right at the top. The R&B singer-songwriter/producer who was mainly based in Australia, but is back in the country, has great international acclaim. He is a multi-ARIA Award winner and has written and produced for international artistes such as Selwyn, Aussie singer Delta Goodrem, Australian Idol contestant Paulini, fellow contestant Ricki-Lee Coulter, Levi, Shakaya, Rahsaan Patterson, and Stan Walker, among many. He has been doing his own music and we can't wait for the local artistes we hope that he will produce; but having heard some of the tracks he has worked on with baby brother, hip-hop artist, Rontingz, the words "world stage" resound from Mr Mtawarira.

Why he is top?: Two words. Internationally recognised!

Elton Bryce

So we got an "earful'' resume about music production and why, Bryce Nation's CEO, Elton Bryce, is top producer in the country from the man himself. His role model is U.S. rapper/producer-businessman, Sean "Diddy" Combs, whom Bryce states, "sets the bar for him". Well, Elton has worked hard and has earned the respect of his producer peers and radio stations. In Zimbabwean music history, he was the first to produce a successful R&B artist, Cherish Bryce, who has found success across the Southern African region. Bryce believes that his record label is at par with international record labels, upholding the professional and business ethics required to groom world-class musicians. Under Bryce Nation are hip-hop artiste, Trey XL, female soloists Cherish Bryce, Cindy Munyavi, the late Amelia, Afro group, Magen’a, and Project Fame Africa winner, Lindiwe Bungane from Zambia. He has had the priviledge to collaborate African music giants, Nigerian 2 Face Idibia and Zambians K Millian and Roberto Banda on his artist's album. Well done! (Clap hands). We believe in, "walk the walk, and talk the talk", so, so far, Elton Bryce does lean towards his idol's (Diddy) direction in terms of music and business, (and he does dress well), but we need to hear more....let the music speak for itself!

Why he is top?: "Bryce Nation over everything" is the motto, so there!

 ...and in our Hall of fame...

These gentlemen, (may their souls rest in peace), opened doors and created paths for our current urban music and we thank and honour them posthumously.

Fortune Muparutsa and Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa

These two men are the actual pioneers of urban music in Zimbabwe, going back to the early 1990s. Fortune Muparutsa was known as a "perfectionist" with a successful solo career and having produced music for the likes of Patience Musa, Innocent Utsiwegota, Alexio Kawara, Tia,  Keith Guzah (now known as Kapital K), Major Playaz, amongst many others. He also mentored producers such as Flash Gordon, John Jay, and many others. At the time of his death, he had caught the attention of Senegalese-American singer/producer, Akon, who wanted to sign him up.

Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa put his money in his passion. He was one of Zimbabwean music's major promoter, producing, sponsoring and supporting Zimbabwean music and the rights and needs of Zimbabwean artistes. He founded the first black owned record label, High Density Records in 1994. In 1997, he was the first Zimbabwean to be nominated at Africa's prestigious music awards, Kora, in the "Best African Song Category" and was the first to chair the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA), which he led or almost 20 years and grew the membership. He also managed to bring in international artistes, Akon and Sean Paul in 2010 under his promotions company.

Why they were top?: The above are "Urban Legends" who paved way for the current producers and musicians.



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