Mu Netsi and Jungle Loco - Zimbabwe's Hip-Hop Kingpins of Fiery, Unparalleled Lyricism As Seen In Their New Song 'Chitown to Masvingo'

 By Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza

Now, it is a known fact that rap, and its concomitant hip-hop culture, has undergone intense stages of metamorphosis throughout its years of existence. This should be read from the American context, which is the provenance of hip-hop. And rap has traversed all parts of the world, following trends as they develop and change in the United States. 

Mu Netsi Jungle Loco Chitown to Masvingo
The new track by Mu Netsi featuring Jungle Loco has compelled us to revisit the origins of rap because this is what the track upholds

Starting as a voice of rebellion for inner-city (a kinder term for poor residential districts in the US,  mostly inhabited by Americans of African descent) African-Americans - mostly of Carribean origins - and Latino Americans in the Bronx area of New York City, rap music was quickly embraced as a vital art form for the expression of bottled emotions. This was in the late 1970s going into the early 80s, when block parties became wildly popular. Names such as DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash then come to mind. It was only until 1979 that hip-hop was given official airplay - it was not popular outside the ghettoes. 

A genre that was birthed by abject poverty in a country that considered itself the richest in the world, the hip-hop culture entailed messages of social justice and narrations of the crime in the inner-city hoods, the crime being a direct result of the inequality thrust on Black people in the US Empire.

 Rapping (or emceeing) continued to get richer as the years progressed, employing more metaphorical allusions and touching on a host of subjects, while the instrumentation became more complex and multi-layered, banking on sampling made affordable by changing technology. The hip-hop story was trailblazing - from the 80s through to the 90s, the culture birthed in New York engulfed all major urban centres in the Empire - Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas,  Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, (surely can we list all major US cities?) 

And in that movement, hip-hop became an international export. Especially with the rapid commercialization of the game in the 90s through to the 2000s. It is during this period that it also landed in Zimbabwe (and many other African countries). We embraced it.

But through all that, the outlook of hip-hop has changed. In the contemporary age, this genre (birthed from a desire to give art its full essence as people battled with the struggles of the concrete jungle in the belly of the beast) is now captured by elite interests who are now pushing their nefarious agendas. The rise of "Trap," or mumble rap, has become pervasive in the world such that for the purists, it is akin to an abomination. 

But, enter Mu Netsi and Jungle Loco. It is almost as if they are rebelling. It is almost as if they are saying we are restoring that which you love. For the purists at least. Because of how mumble rap has flooded global markets and the local markets as well, it is refreshing to listen to artists who remind you of the very origins of rap music. It is as if they wanted to take you back to New York, but in their own context highlighting the raw Zimbabwean story. Blissful is an understatement. 

Lyrical beasts Mu Netsi and Jungle Loco have blessed the game with a super collaboration in their new song Chitown to Masvingo, a homage to their respective places of origin. Places that inspired their lyrical mindsets. The single is as explosive as you expect it to be. That is if you are an ardent follower of Zimbabwean hip-hop. Because from this you already know how Mu Netsi is incredibly talented when it comes to painting vivid pictures with words, and you are familiar with Jungle Loco, who is still riding high on the success of his Bata Mastreets: The First Book of Loco album. But even for first time listeners, we are convinced they become instant fans of these insanely gifted musicians. 

Theirs is an effort to remind the game that top-notch lyricism is the pinnacle of rap music. Theirs is a conscious effort to remind the game that exquisite, well-thought out lyrics are the pinnacle of hip-hop culture. Without using hyperboles or anything of that sort - speaking the truth only - every bar in the song from the two artists is a quotable. Chitown to Masvingo is that song which gives your mind some rigorous stimulation. And you have no option but to love it. The hard-hitting bars, the clever word plays, the historical allusions; the poetry is on another level which has not yet been unlocked by many. 

Back to New York. And the generality of urban America as we deal with the struggles of Black people. The reason why we refer to this is because of the instrumentation this track is blessed with. It is the type of beat that makes you mutter to yourself, or to a fellow rap fan, "This is true rap. Powerful rap. The original shit." Because it gives both artists the chance to drop bars profusely while giving the listener a vibe to nod to. 

We reached Mu Netsi for a comment on the making of the song, what inspired the creation and whether he physically linked up with Jungle considering the constraints posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

And he told us, "I've been a fan of Jungle [Loco] since he dropped the House Of Hunger project. Stay Fly ( his set ) was on The Warm Upliftment tape I did. Unfortunately, we didn't get to link up. I wanted to take it back to the basics were two dope rappers would link and possibly create a classic. 

I did my vocals and he sent his in. I then mixed the two and that's how we ended up with the the record. We are both from battle rap backgrounds and that's reflective in the intricacy of the word play. Not too many bar-laden tracks in this age of melody-driven Hip Hop. 

There's a considerable demographic that's drawn to content on that sublime level. Lines like 'stand up for myself like King Kandoro when rehearsing', or 'I'm not even exhausting my punches I'm just giving a pheuuuww' are timeless quotables." 

And that is right. Chitown to Masvingo is a timeless classic. The quotables in the song will endure for eternity. This is how Mu Netsi and Jungle Loco are dealing with the game that we imported from New York, United States of America - in an impeccable manner. In a revolutionary manner. In a manner that leaves you marvelling at each lyric as it comes. 

The song was produced by Anno Domini, and mixed and mastered by Mu Netsi. 

Much of the commercial hip-hop coming from America is wrongly inspiring our youths here in Zimbabwe, Africa. And so at times you have hip-hop that lacks substance and is just driven by vain materialism and a glorification of undesirable vices. 

But Mu Netsi and Jungle Loco are here to maintain sense in the game, even if they are aware their track will not command as many numbers on the digital streets as the other half-baked mumble rap tracks will accumulate. Which they are content with, somewhat, because they know for those who love quality rapping, they have been served right. 

And this comment by is pertinent, "A challenge is thrown down although the other side of it is, with the mumble rap era in full hold in Zimbabwe, does this sound still make sense for fans?"

And while asserting their unrivalled worth within the confines of Zim Hip Hop's finest, they also warn this post-colonial society to retain its senses. Because people seem to be losing themselves these days. What with all the capitalism and the Covid-19 pandemic? 

We will not say much. We have digressed and said enough. Listen to Chitown to Masvingo by Mu Netsi and Jungle Loco via this YouTube link, and tell your others not to try this at home. It's detrimental.

And the lyric video here. 

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