Words by Lauryn Njeri
Zimbabwean-South African born Simbarashe Darel Kasunzuma is a generational talent whose music evidently has no sonic bounds. His destiny became a reality in the comforts of his basement as a 10 year old, producing Hip Hop beats for his older brothers. 8 years later, the prodigy emerged from the shadows to become THEBOYNAMEDSIMBA, a rapper, vocalist, producer, and engineer.
Embracing his new persona as a multidisciplinary artist, he paints vivid pictures on his productions; confessing his vulnerabilities through unorthodox melodies. Strokes of a troubled past, deep losses, heartbreak, introversion and addiction make his story a compelling one on his latest project, “Manhamo’s Son: Chapter II”. We get to experience a reconnection with his Shona roots, while sonically coating his EP with Zimbabwean instrumentation, melodies and dialect on a deeply personal project that serves as a tribute to his late father, Manhamo.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you’ve been in recent times.
Wow, I really encounter difficulty answering this question. First off, I’m a Christian. I’m a man of few words, an artistic introvert who is slightly eccentric; and extremely family-orientated, this which acts as a foundation to all the stories that I have begotten through music.
Honestly, I was in a negative space a couple of months ago, the pressures of managing and marketing THEBOYNAMEDSIMBA by myself really affected my psyche, and my ability to maintain the creation of high quality music. However, I’m better now, after unplugging from the world of social media I can say that I’m probably making the best music that I’ve ever made.
What inspired your journey into becoming ‘THEBOYNAMEDSIMBA’?
“No!”…Rejection fuelled me into becoming THEBOYNAMEDSIMBA. When classmates told me that I should quit making beats at the tender age of 10, I started producing for 3 of my older brothers who ignited my passion for music. When rappers told me that I wouldn’t cut it as an artist, I became THEBOYNAMEDSIMBA. When mixing engineers ignored my calls…you get the point. I’d also say the passing of my father, Manhamo, depression and poverty pushed me into songwriting, which was and still is a coping mechanism for me.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never experienced it before?
Unorthodox honest music which sonically blends hip hop with other genres.
What’s the story behind the title of this project, “Manhamo’s Son: Part II”?
Manhamo’s Son: Chapter II is the second chapter of a series of projects which act as a tribute to my late father, Manhamo. I’ve never been accepting of mourning, but after 10 years of trying to cover the scars I feel it’s time to accept what is, and if bleeding on a record is what it takes then may it be so.
I understand you’re a multifaceted artist in that you produce, rap and sing. Which part of the creative process has you most in your element?
This is a really hard one! I’m a producer at heart, the crafting of sonics turns me on. However, singing my heart out whilst healing, with the possibility of positively touching whoever my music touches is where I’m most in my element.
There are a lot of deep themes on the project wrapped in experimental undertones, what was your inventive process while putting together this project?
The inventive process starts with productions that lean towards minor chord progressions which sonically resemble the tone of the stories. I further experimented creating waltz time hip hop influenced productions, something you don’t see often nowadays. Lastly I add a lot of vocoder and distortion to most of the vocals on the project, using the vocoder and distortion to depict the range of emotions. The decisions I make with my mixes and masters are always meant to be unconventional.
What is your favourite track on “Manhamo’s Son: Part II” and why?
Ndakachemera, definitely Ndakachemera! Either than it being one of the best songs in our lifetime, it’s a real story… My story… Straight from the heart you know. The opportunity to have my blood brother, Txwxndx, offer his perspective of that chapter in our family’s story was just a beautiful process. It’s always nice to bleed on a record with family. Expect the Ndakachemera visuals soon, it’s inevitable.
What do you hope your listeners carry with them when they listen to your music?
I just want them to know that it’s okay to be honest in whatever walks of life. To never limit themselves, the sky is not the limit! Dream, and act on those dreams.