By Tonderai Zvimba
Enock Munhenga better known as ExQ who rose to fame in the early 2000s when he released his debut single Musalala, says being versatile has kept him in the game.
The Urban Grooves emerged in the 90s with pioneers like Mau Mau, King Pinn, Munetsi and Maskiri.
The genre became popular when a new group of ambitious young artists entered the scene, just like what is happening with Zimdancehall.
The new wave was to be driven by young talented artists like Roy and Royce, Sani Makhalima, Extra Large, Roki and Leonard Mapfumo with ExQ later emerging in the early 2000s.
ExQs debut single ‘Musalala’ was well received by many around the country and did very well on the airwaves.
The musician followed up the success of this single with ‘Pandakakuona’ that featured Shame and Nathan.
He soon became a household name in 2005 when he released his debut album ‘Exquisite’ which had hits like Mazirudo and Ndichakutevera.
In that very year, he was featured in a song which was to become the biggest song of 2005 – Leonard Mapfumo’s ‘Madei’. Maidei was a banger and it reached the number one spot on ZBCtv’s Top 10 singles charts and stayed there for 42 weeks.
In 2007, ExQ went overseas to work on his second project “Love is my Religion” which also did well. It featured legendary afro-jazz musician Oliver Mtukudzi in the song ‘Pane Rudo’. In 2008 he released an album ‘Grown and Sexy’ which unfortunately did not do very well.
The second half of the decade saw the urban grooves empire slowly crumbling down as there were new musical genres emerging like Zimdancehall.
Most urban grooves artistes including Decibel, Roy and Royce, Maskiri, Fortune Mparutsa and Betty Makaya started leaving the country in search of greener pastures.
Not wanting to see their genre die, the urban grooves artistes, in recent years, have been trying to make comebacks but most of their projects have been flopping.
Decibel, the ‘Chido’ hit-maker who relocated to the UK, for example, made several comeback attempts by releasing singles which all failed to make an impact.
ExQ in 2012 also dropped his fourth studio album ‘Mr Urban Grooves’ in an attempt to comeback but the album did not live up to expectation. In 2015, ExQ joined forces with Roki to release a single ‘Alleluyah’ that quickly became a hit.
The song did very well on the charts and in 2016 the singer solidified his comeback when he released another single ‘Bhachura’. It became an instant hit with the video also getting positive reviews.
Last year, ExQ joined forces with Jah Prayzah’s Military Touch Movement (MTM) and since then, the singer has not looked back.
This year, he released his fifth studio album titled Tseu Tseu and it featured legendary jazz musician Tanga WekwaSando. It contained tracks Nzenza, Pahukama and Tsvigiri which all became hits.
Reflecting on his career, ExQ said he had managed to remain relevant because he experiments with his music and can work with any artist.
“ I think that’s what has kept me in the game for a very long time. I’m not afraid of experimenting and I think I’ve found myself in a different lane,” said ExQ.
Quizzed how he had managed to produce hits at a time when Zimdancehall has taken over the local music industry, ExQ said: “Maybe it’s because I’m not a competition to them as our genres are different.”
On his stint at MTM, a record label that has been accused of promoting its boss Jah Prayzah’s music and sidelining that of other artistes, ExQ said this was not the case for him.
“Jah Prayzah and I started the whole MTM movement so whether things are looking up or down, I’ll always be with the stable because it’s our baby. Everything is going on well and it’s better than being alone,” he said.
For the festive season, ExQ said he has a smash video in store for fans after the success of Tsvigiri which also had an amazing video.
“I’m now working on material for an album that I’ll release next year. For December though, I have a video which I’ll release later this month.” The Chronicle