Jah Signal’s real ghetto story
By Takudzwa Chihambakwe
“TIRARIRA inini ndini ndarira swaah…” is the opening line for most of his tracks. It has a childish ring to it, but that has not stopped the ditty from taking Zim dancehall by storm.
We caught up with the man behind the line, Jah Signal, born Nicodemus Mutize.
At 21, Jah Signal – who says he started pursuing music in 2011 – leads a pack of Zim dancehall underlings spoiling for a fight with the big guns in the cut-throat industry.
“The music business started when I was still in high school,” said Jah Signal, “This was during my high school days at both Dzivarasekwa I High and Rock Mountain Christian College. It is there that I realised that music could be worth pursuing. That’s how the journey began.
“Initially I started by doing tracks inclined to gospel because the school I went to was a Christian college, and because of my Christian background too. However, with time I started finding it easier to express myself using dancehall.”
The chanter was soon to transform from a high school gospel-singing and free-styling lad to a recording studio artiste.
“One of my neighbours introduced me to a friend of his who was a producer. I started to visit various studios in Harare and surrounding areas, recording songs.
“A few of those tracks trickled to kombi drivers and before I knew it there was a buzz about me in Kuwadzana 3 (in Harare) where I stay,” narrated Jah Signal.
The battle to grow bigger than Kuwadzana was only won last year.
“This was when I recorded on the Chillspot Records’ Stage Riddim. I did the track ‘Ndomuda’ and people started to get more interest in me.
“From then on I had a number of collaborations with the likes of Tocky Vibes and Boom Beto, and those tracks among many others, propelled me to where I am today and I am truly grateful to the fans for their love and support.”
Life was never a walk in the park for Jah Signal and his nine siblings.
“Things were tough growing up. Life is still tough but music brings in a couple of extra cents, which has improved our lifestyle. I remember when my mother and I, to ensure that we had a meal on the table, would get used paper towels from hotels, straighten them out and remake paper rolls, and sell to people in our community.
“Though substandard they were a big sell because people preferred those to using newspapers as substitute for proper toilet paper.
“However, I have since stopped my mother from doing that as I cover for some of the expenses with the money I generate from my music.”
Jah Signal also explained his stage name.
“The name Jah Signal was influenced by two factors. Firstly, I really love Busy Signal’s style so I adopted the ‘Signal’ bit of my name from him. But also, there is the aspect of God up above. He sends the signals of life to me and these signals direct me to do what I do. As you might know, God is Jah.”
The youngster has performed on big stages both locally and regionally, performing with Jah Prayzah, Anthony B and Cassper Nyovest. This summer he has several gigs lined up, including in South Africa.
“I was also humbled to learn that my track ‘Rure Rure’ was on number four on the YFM reggae chart show last week, on a list topped by Mavado and Alkaline, and includes other hotshots such as Popcaan, Damian Marley and Vybz Kartel.”
Jah Signal is set to headline the City Sports Bar Jam Session on July 31, which has been dubbed “Zim Dancehall Future”, alongside the likes of Blot, Jah Child, Mad Warrior, Power Rasta, Muffah, Technic, T Man, Master H, Samtam and Silent Killer.
“I am looking forward to the month end gig and fans should come through to City Sports Bar and get a taste of my new material, which I am dropping this August on my debut album and, of course, not forgetting my current hits.” The Sunday Mail