Asaph Keeps Shining, From the City Hall Benches to the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA)

By Takudzwa Kadzura 

The streets are saying hip hop is here. When Ti Gonzi walked away with a National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) gong in 2020, a deadlock was broken, and it insinuated belief in the hearts of many thriving in this industry. Today we are more fascinated by how a rapper is representing the nation in the Listeners Choice category at MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) edition. Of more interest is how Tafadzwa Tarukwana woke up to rebrand Asaph Zim to Asaph Afrika. 


Now an African music nominee, his has been a self-fulfilling prophecy and we are excited to have witnessed it. Bagging the vote-based nomination and envied Listener’s Choice ahead of our traditional big names is perhaps what the game needed to sideline unprogressive critics. In Asaph’s world it takes consistency, positivity and of course teamwork. 

Tafadzwa Asaph Tarukwana is a Bulawayo-based artiste who will be representing the country at this year’s MTV Africa Music Awards. It has been an inspirational journey for the down to earth rapper who commands huge respect within various corners of the game. His rise from the street battles as KwanFire to representing the country is not a walk in the park, and many would love to know the ingredients. 

From interaction with this author Asaph has always pointed out consistency as one of the secrets to cementing a brand. Talk of how he once rapped, “others achieving height whilst I’m working on depth”. His brand has outpaced doubters who once questioned his inclusion at the Burna Boy gig which was billed for last year. Ever since, his listenership has continued to widen and has seen him scoop a MAMA nomination.

Asaph remarked, “At first I was a bit numb about it until I logged on social media and saw the reactions and a bunch of people congratulating me. I was really excited but also realized that the real work had just begun. Win or lose the goal is to maximize this moment.”

The conversation has much potential to at least address issues that stakeholders have been pointing out as the game’s hindrances. Asaph today stands as one of the big names in the music industry and many can attest to the fact that when you approach him you are at least assured of a satisfactory engagement. That has seen him outsmart a couple of obstacles staged before him.

He confirmed the existence of a supportive culture in the hip hop industry of Zimbabwe, something that has offered the genre with a lifeline over recent years and acknowledged, “Yeah I appreciate the Hip Hop artists that have shown support for this moment. Guys like Ganyaz Jr, Holy Ten, R. Peels, Noble Styles and Crooger just to name a few have all been very supportive. I always focus on the love. Consistency is the key. Realizing that just because you've leveled up doesn't mean you've reached the finish line. With every new level more work is required.”

And still on a related note, his victory rubbishes old shenanigans of set-ups and the worshipping of certain individuals to get to the top. The new and upcoming cats should never wait for any individual’s validation, gatekeepers. 

He laughed it off, "The 'gatekeepers' are really just the artists who have been in the game the longest and have huge followings and strong fan base. It would be awesome to see them use their influence to put a lot of the new guys on or at least channel positive energy when new guys are doing amazing things for the culture. However with or without them history is being made and time moves forward, they won’t matter forever and will soon be replaced.”

One aspect we can never ignore which is observable from his craft is the unwavering aid of Ganyaz Jr. The relationship is well discussed in the interview published on this site where Ganyaz explains how everything is what it is today. 

We reached out to Ganyaz who buoyantly reacted, “You can imagine how happy we were but also we were confident with the way we went hard with the hashtag, everyone was going hard. The plan was to tweet as much as possible, I remember us as the gang putting together ten of our trusted friends to tweet and tag ZiFM. I was using all the pics and content in my gallery to get as much into action, ours is an ongoing journey. I feel like the hip hop fraternity did support us, but it could have been more you know what I mean. It depends with your perspective, sometimes as Zim Hip Hop we lack unity and it’s about who’s rocking with who. We just trying to show the youths everybody can do it and it’s a big thing for hip hop.”

Hip hop fans have seen Ganyaz at least more than once in Asaph’s videos and the two have collaborated countless times. In the midst of a celebration and a big win looming he recalls, "Mahn, with Asaph we came a long way, been friends for over ten years. I met Asaph when he had just started rap and I was also starting. Now we like family. The secret is to keep it real amongst each other, plan, and learn to solve issues without involving outsiders. One of us makes it, we’ve made it."

He also took the opportunity to debunk the nauseating myth, "To tell you the truth, the gatekeepers – they might be like other artists or popular figures within the game. The game is so competitive and niggas have pride, I understand when they do not want to be seen tweet #ASAPH4MAMA fifty times but at the same time that’s what's holding us back as a genre and country. 

Whatever we trying to push doesn’t end up big as it is supposed to be. It’s bigger than one artiste, it’s bigger than the city and it’s for the culture. How are the corporates gonna back it if the so called gatekeepers and big artists ain’t even supporting it. It’s quite sad. When it comes to other stakeholders, radio and social media can’t complain they were great, showing more support than the so cold gatekeepers. It is a discussion for another day man."

The Zim Hip Hop Awards CEO Aldrian Beefy Harrison cemented the above sentiments saying, "It is an amazing breakthrough for hip hop. It was well deserved. Asaph is a hardworking artist who is proud of his city and country. He has been pushing the genre year in year out. These are the fruits of his labor. He is an excellent ambassador for hip hop and we rally behind him. I wish him all the best and this is just the beginning of more international recognition and accolades for him." 

Asaph has bagged several Zim Hip Hop gongs and is the current holder of the Best Hip Hop Personality meaning he embodies the spirit of the culture. As it stands, he's also a nominee for the Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) where he has three nominations - Best Male, Best Video and Best Hip Hop. 

R.Peels expressed his joy, "We are super excited as the game, I am super proud of Asaph for getting that nomination, means a lot for hip hop, he is one of the guys who’s been in the game for a minute so I have mutual respect because of the time, input and originality big shout out Zim Hip Hop is proud and we praying that we scoop this award."

Zimbiyana Jones (formerly MC Chita) is in love with the win, "Asaph is like a young brother to me and it’s a big moment not only for me. I hope it means people will start taking the genre seriously."

There you have it, an artist who has defied odds and keeps sprinkling the hip hop arena with positive vibes. We celebrate a milestone and here is the voting link.

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