By Andrew Moyo
Chillspot Records has over the years grown to become one of the most significant brands on the local entertainment scene.
While the founders of the record label are not the pioneers of the Zim dancehall movement, their contribution to its popularity and growth is undoubted.
A brainchild of Arnold Kamudyariwa, Rodger Tafadzwa Kadzimwe and Tafadzwa Mandaza, popularly known in music circles as DJ Fantan, Levels and DJ Rhibhe respectively, the recording stable has been responsible for catapulting many artistes to stardom, thanks to their gripping riddims.
Some of the earlier riddims that saw them become household names include “Zimbo Flava”, “One Clan”, “Xmas Money Riddim”, “MadLevel Riddim” and “Pure Niceness”.
While Levels is more recognisable for his beat-making prowess and DJ Rhibhe for his skills behind the turntables, DJ Fantan has come to be known as the Chillspot hype man.
Besides being a permanent fixture on social media where he is constantly posting almost everything that Chillspot will be involved in, Fantan has also displayed his ability to charm crowds as an MC.
Many may wonder how it all started, well, it was in DJ Fantan’s bedroom that Chillspot Records had its first breath.
The Sunday Mail Society caught up with DJ Fantan, who shed more light on his contribution to the rise of one of the most popular entities on the Zim dancehall landscape.
Born in 1987, Fantan grew up in the Matapi section of Mbare, attending both primary and secondary school in the same neighbourhood.
Having lost his father at a tender age, it was his mother who saw to it that the boy was clothed, fed and went to school.
“My mother had a vending stall in front of the flat where we stayed so every day after school I would come and help out,” said Fantan.
“Friends would come and hangout with me while I sold my wares so this came to be known as the ‘chill spot’.”
While he was in high school, he tried his luck on the soccer field but that did not work out very well and he ended up taking the music route.
In his second high school year, the turntables came calling and he started leaning DJ tricks under the wings of Alcatraz Sound before joining Last Generation Sound later on.
“When I was in Form Four in the third term, things got really tough at home and I had to look for a job in order to balance the monetary equation. I got a job as a cleaner at a fast food outlet and the tight schedule between school and work meant I had to put the DJ thing on hold.”
Fantan worked for the fast food company for six years and his hard work saw him being promoted to a managerial position before he decided to call it a day in 2010. Having moved into his own room at the same block of flats where he grew up, friends who also included talented lyricists would come and hangout at his place.
“My room was the meeting spot for the guys, and it was here where those who had lyrics would freestyle and this is what gave us the idea to buy speakers and a microphone.
“When we first put together recording equipment, it was just for fun and we had no idea that this would grow to become an iconic institution. Since the place where the studio started, which was my bedroom, was a hangout spot for many people, we just decided to call it Chillspot Records.”
Founded in 2011, Chillspot did not make any significant impact until they released the “Zimbo Flava Riddim” at the end of 2013. The songs on the instrumental, which included Soul Jah Love’s “Ndongosimudza Musoro”, Ras Pompy’s “Usade Kutamba Neni”, Tocky Vibes’s “Ngoma Dzonaka” and Terminator’s “Any Ting A Any Ting” to name a few, exploded on the streets.
“From 2011 when we started Chillspot Records, things were really tough for us and we only got our breakthrough after the success of ‘Zimbo Flava’. The riddims we followed up with also created major hits and many artistes including those who were not from Mbare also wanted to be associated with us.”
As traffic at the studio increased, Fantan had to move out as they upgraded the space into a proper studio with a booth and other sophisticated equipment. The managerial skills he acquired while working a formal job have gone a long way in ensuring the longevity and growth of the studio.
“There are many studios that have come and gone but we have managed to stick around not only because of the hard work we put in, but also the way we handle our business.
“We always try our best to push every project that we have as well as the artistes that we work with which is why you will see that we are very active on social media.”
Ladies who might be eyeing this individual might as well forget about it as he got married earlier this year. DJ Fantan has also mastered the art of beat-making and music fans got to have the first taste of his skills on the “Unoiripa Riddim”, which came out last year. The Sunday Mail