By Bruce Ndlovu
Perhaps the most surprising thing about his latest chart topping song Nhema, which features Killer T, is how easily ExQ proves that dancehall and hip-hop can co-exist.
On the track, the dancehall chanter and the rapper prove to be the smoothest collaborators, exchanging laid back verses to yet another compelling beat by DJ Tamuka.
Tamuka is slowly emerging from behind the shadow of fellow Gweru beat-smith Oskid, basking in the glory of working with some of the country’s most capable musicians.
On his latest masterpiece, Killer T and ExQ prove why they are arguably the greatest creative voices in their respective genres, with their voices fitting hand in glove with Tamuka’s bouncy, swaggering instrumental.
Killer T is his usual infectious self, delivering another catchy chorus that seems to be destined to be sung over and over again at live shows as people rile against those that throw dirt on their names through lies. The ghetto spokesperson once again shines as he delivers thought provoking lyrics in a laid back, almost lazy, manner.
If Killer T provides the food for thought, then ExQ serves wine for the mind. His verses, delivered in the unflustered way that fans have come to expect from ExQ, allow the listener to wash down his compatriot’s chorus and chants.
It is a style that fans have grown accustomed to since the turn of the century. In 2000, the rapper dropped Musalala, tale of a pampered urban youth’s struggle to cope with the life and demands of rural Zimbabwe.
Seventeeen years later, he is on another hit song, this time with a dancehall chanter, striking blows against those that are lying about him. The song came in the aftermath of Stunner’s acrimonious relationship with Olinda. The outspoken Olinda claimed that the rapper had told him that ExQ and
Jah Prayzah were plotting his downfall, even going to traditional healers to prevent his rise to the top.
“Basically the song is about people who talk about what they do not know and just spread false allegations but I’m not moved with that because vanoreva nhema ndezvavo ivo. People can talk all they want and involve my name in their ‘Pinocchio’ business but bottom line is I don’t care.
“My mission is just to make good music for my fans and that’s what I’m concentrating on. I thank God for my talent and the phase I am at, at the moment, it’s all God’s work and blessings,” said Ex Q.
While the song is a worthy reply, one can argue that ExQ’s longevity in the world of music is a worthy enough counterblow on its own.
It is rare for any musician to survive a decade in an industry with such a high turnover of superstars. This is even moreso for rappers, who always run the risk of being replaced in the blink of an eye whenever a new wordsmith emerges.
The search for new, exciting voices never stops, and in a genre dominated by youthful listeners, successfully maintaining a spot on the charts can be an impossible task.
ExQ however, has defied those odds. Bhachura was one of the biggest songs released last year and as he prepares to release his latest album next week, he has continued with that momentum again this year. So far he has not showed the desire to either slow down or hand over the button to competitors.
When one looks at the current Zimbabwean music landscape, it is vastly different from what it was a decade ago. The stars of yesterday are either languishing in the music wilderness or barely scraping a living on the fringes of Zimbabwean music.
The Zimdancehall tidal wave swept away many urban grooves stars from the top of the charts and replaced with chanters whose finger is on the pulse of the everyday Zimbabwean youth’s struggle.
ExQ’s urban grooves partners are nowhere near the charts. Wordsmiths like Extra Large and Maskiri are nowhere to be found while Roki is trying to stage another revival in South Africa after his umpteenth brush with controversy.
Urban grooves’ songbirds are gone too, with the likes of Betty Makaya seemingly now content with leading a life away from the bright lights of superstardom.
However, ExQ has seemingly survived this apocalypse, soldiering on as he proves that true greatest can even outlast a genre. Sunday News