From MC Chita to Zimbiyana Jones - A Moment With Zimbiyana Jones As He Explains His Journey, And New Album

 By Takudzwa Kadzura and Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza

Zimbabwean hip hop has against all odds dominated an eventful 2020 and the genre brought a lot of surprises. MC Chita’s return is quite a nostalgic experience of how hip hop rose to prominence. Every movement/culture has proponents actively driving it, and whether in the past or presence, their legacies constitute an integral part of the movement. We have had the privilege to talk with the legendary MC Chita, who is now voiced through his alter ego Zimbiyana Jones


You see, a lot of things needed clarification and we are here with an in-depth interview exploring how the rapper has lived through the decade and of course his reflections about the game.

ZimSphere: This is a question that you've answered already but let's revisit again, who is Zimbiyana Jones? What are the changes and why choose that name?

Zimbiyana Jones: Indiana Jones was a childhood hero, growing up. Before I became a rapper, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. So when I had this opportunity to rebrand, the name just felt right. Plus I was never a fan of the name MC Chita. That name always felt dated and it was just given to me. As much as I respect and love everything that brand has done for me, it feels like it's time to upgrade.

ZimSphere: On the business side of it, exposing your alter ego can be understood as rebranding, are we totally forgetting about MC Chita, and how is that benefiting the business side of your music?

Zimbiyana Jones: Not at all. If you are to look at the logo for my new alter ego, it says "MC Chita presents... Zimbiyana Jones." MC Chita is a part of who I am. I can never run away from that. Business wise, it's been a gift and a curse because while people are always intrigued by a new image, but at the same time it gets tiring explaining that we are one in the same person. Also, promoters prefer using a recognizable brand to push shows. But I'm hoping with the release of this new album that will change.

ZimSphere: You carry a legacy within the hip hop space of Zimbabwe and has the game actually improved on the technical aspects? Would you consider Zimbabwean Hip Hop to be firm at the moment or a lot still has to be done?

Zimbiyana Jones: I like what's happening with the scene these days. It's definitely a big change from when I first got into the game. When I first got in, there were few of us. The genre wasn't taken that seriously. To hear a rapper on radio wasn't as usual as it is now. 

The new school is really doing it and you can see how they've influenced others. As far as e industry is concerned, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Positions that need to be filled by people who are not rappers. That's how the industry will really grow. When we have people willing to take on certain tasks for the artists, we will take things to another level.

ZimSphere: This interview has come at a time we're approaching the Awards - how has been your relationship with the institution?

Zimbiyana Jones: Haha! It's been a love/hate relationship since the 2013 awards. But Beefy and I have always been cool even before the awards. And I have nothing but admiration for what the awards have done for the industry and how far they have come

ZimSphere: Our central focus is the album which you're about to drop, take us through the creative process; what inspired the energy to arrive at the decision of bringing a full body project?

 Zimbiyana Jones: It all started with the concept. When I came up with the title Zimbiyana Jones... And The Temple of Boom, I wanted an album which had nothing but the boom sound going through it. 

Then I went to the King 98 album launch and bumped into TRK and everything changed. I explained the concept to him and he asked to executively produce the project. Next day he sent me a bag of beats and we got it in from there. He would come to my crib with his equipment and we would get to work, trading concepts, creating, reworking tracks till we got as close to perfection as we could. 

I need to explain who TRK is though. He's an artist from here (singer, rapper, producer) who was based in South Africa over the past few years. He's done work with everybody some of whom include Nasty C, Kwesta, Ice Prince, DJ Dimplez, and many others.

So TRK and I had collaborated in the past but had never met in person, but I guess we had been fans of each other's music because when we met we hit it off and were able to come up with what I feel is a classic

ZimSphere: Mention any features in the album that fans can look forward to.

Zimbiyana Jones: The album features TRK, Nutty O, Trayn Dillinger, Asaph, Tulk Munny, Chengeto Brown, Swaygo The Shaman, Obi Davids and Bryan K.

Production credits go to Tererai "TRK" Kamhiriri, Airmac Raw, GT Beatz, Ranson (Ghana), Simba Tagz, Dior (UK) and King Kus aka Mabeatz Eshumba.

ZimSphere: At one point you stayed in Jamaica. Can you tell us about your experience there and some lessons we can draw from the Jamaican society?

Zimbiyana Jones: You would be surprised how similar Jamaica is to Zimbabwe. How the houses are set up, the roads, malls, etc. You can blink and find yourself in Avondale, like WTF - I guess it's the whole being a British colony thing. 

But at the same time, because it's a mountainous country, you find the rich at the toppa di ill and the poor pon ground, but that's really it. 

One thing I think we can learn from Jamaica is how they've managed to turn their celebrities and culture into a source of revenue for their tourism dept. A lot of people travel to Jamaica not for the beaches, which, don't get me wrong, are very beautiful, but for the music and the culture which that country promotes

ZimSphere: The new generation of hip hop artists has professed immense hunger for the game. Which artists among this generation inspire you the most?

Zimbiyana Jones: Eish, that's a looooooong list. Let's try get into it and I know I'm missing a few but meh - Asaph, R Peels, Holy Ten, Swaygo The Shaman, Union 5, Venge Muzik, THC Mobb, Tulk Munny, Ti Gonzi, Probeatz, Mclyne Beats, Beav City, K.I.N.G Mataz.

Yeah... I think that works. Oh, and there are some other underground cats like Swiska and Leakage, it's an interesting time in Zim Hip Hop. You should check my daughter AlinAl too. It's mad.

 ZimSphere: One of your most impeccable works is your collaborative project with Jnr Brown - Kings Rendezvous. How do you feel about that project 10 years since its release, especially in relation to the prevailing socio-economic conditions and the growing inequality in Zimbabwe?

Zimbiyana Jones: I'm proud of that project. For me it's the original blueprint of what the game is today. Feels like it was ahead of time too because it's still so relevant today. We're still fighting a lot of the same struggles today we were back then. But I feel now we need to start giving answers to how we can change things instead of just listing the problems we been having, over and over again. We need to keep progressing.

ZimSphere: You are one of the artists who's stayed in the game for a long time. What's been your formula for this endurance? What has kept you relevant?

Zimbiyana Jones: I think it's because I'm a fan of the music still. I still vibe with what's hot today and even strive to take it to a higher level or create a new trend. I have been lucky to see where the wave is going before it gets there. Example is with drill. I have been on that since 2015. Another thing is that the music means so much to me. The passion and hunger I had back in 2011 is the same passion and hunger I have today. And this being a competitive sport, best believe I'm always gonna come out with my strongest effort each time I step up. And that reflects!

ZimSphere: Before you decided to bless us with a new project, what had you been up to all this while?

Zimbiyana Jones: Just been on the grind for the most part, getting my personal life in order. Also trying to set up a media house/management company where we will be trying to guide upcoming artists through the industry, helping them with things nobody helped me with when I was coming up. Same time been trying to finish my book and just living life.  I haven't been totally quiet though. Also been dropping the odd single here and there, but mostly we been working in silence prepping for this coming moment.

ZimSphere: What words of advice and encouragement would you offer to your fans and other artists as well?

Zimbiyana Jones: Having a talent or being good at something isn't enough. Success at something takes hard work and dedication too. But as long as you're willing to put the work in there's nothing that you cannot achieve.

As you have read for yourself, this is raw from Zimbiyana Jones himself and that is definitely not everything to know about a well-travelled rapper like him. The upcoming album will introduce Zimbayana Jones and be on the look-out for that one. 

Meanwhile check his single Pretty Boy Fresh featuring Swaygo The Shaman and TRK via this link.

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