“Peace, Almighty” BA7 Unpacks ‘Cognac & Crimes’, Passion for the Game, and Stories of Survival

By Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza

The name BA7 is one that resonates with fervent and impassioned followers of Zim Hip Hop. To those who don't know BA7, this article serves as a perfect introduction. 

BA7 is a Zimbabwean rapper based in South Africa whose inimitable grimy flow is beautifully impressionable on the ears. He unequivocally asserts that he is not an "underground rapper" per se, but the cold flows that he unapologetically spits do not place him in the mainstream either. He is that I'm-blessed-to-discover-your-music rapper.

His style - loping tempo, samples, and flow; choice of beats; haunting use of space and echo; accentuated bass; and enigmatic lyrics - transcends the conventions of modern rap. The unorthodox style may appear disjointed to the unacquainted at the first listen; but with reverent patience (with the listener allowing the music to grow on them) it becomes crystal-clear that BA7 is an iconoclastic rapper - one whose lyrical fury and missiles of bars over lush street-themed beats reveal eloquence in simplicity.

The last LP he dropped much to newfound critical acclaim - Cognac and Crimes 3 - is the third instalment in the Cognac and Crimes series. It exudes understated brilliance, without being convoluted or banal. His movie-like real stories of suffering, survival, debauchery, and profligacy are incendiary - what more with the probing kicks and swirls of samples his beats are laden with!

Real stories - stories of pain glossed over by momentary spasms of debasement, profanity, and extravagance - are the sole basis of real hip hop that moves hearts & souls. BA7 makes it clear that his music is not for everyone, but at the same time the vibrant images he portrays have the sonically immortal dexterity to ground complex emotions of a troubled childhood and trauma into tangible metaphors. Something that leads you to a path of redemption when you listen to his catalog - in particular, Cognac and Crimes 1, 2, and 3.

With the poetic polemics and apologetics of "real negus [niggas]", he presents himself to new and old listeners as a recalcitrant rapper with a deep reverence for the culture in its entirety. He considers commercialized versions of rap as sacrilegious - respect must always be given to the OGs; they must be venerated. BA7 radiates a proclivity for respecting socially-conscious and evocative rap.

ZimSphere had the priceless opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with BA7 – the Cognac Fly Writer - and we absolutely love how he embodies the universal struggle of the human condition and experience.

Below are excerpts of the interview [edited for clarity, brevity, and readability].

[Interview done by Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza for


ZimSphere: Most followers of Zimbabwean hip-hop, particularly those with a bias towards underground hip-hop, knew the name BA7 via Cognac and Crimes 3, with loads of curiosity about your identity. Who is BA7, the “Cognac Fly Writer”?

BA7: Peace Almighty, hope all is Palm trees your end. BA7 is Amun Heru Neteru aka Both Hands Of Tehuti, The CognacGod.

ZimSphere: Is BA7 the “Cognac God” the same with Heru Neteru? May you elucidate these personas.

BA7: BA7 is my moniker and Amun Heru Neteru is my government.

ZimSphere: Take us through the music you made before the Cognac and Crimes series

BA7: I made a few wack projects before the Cognac & Crimes series. The old music is not worth the attention coz it was straight basura haha. In 2017 I rebranded and dropped my debut album Zero Tolerance which gave birth to the Cognac & Crimes series. Will upload the album on Audiomack some day. Shot five videos from the album but took ‘em off YouTube this year. Tryna move mystic from here.

ZimSphere: Where do you derive the inspiration to continue hip-hop?

BA7: I’m inspired by real life and my surroundings. Society’s decay mostly.

ZimSphere: How has been life in the diaspora? How do you keep on making music?

BA7: Life in the diaspora been both sides of the coin God. You know the grotesque and the gorgeous but good times always outweigh the bad. I love music and its my escape from the grim life I lead. I would be 730 (crazy) if it weren’t for music.

ZimSphere: What would you tell someone who desires to live in the diaspora?

BA7: Be willing to live under pressure and out of your comfort zone coz you will get tested more than a whole varsity. It’s hard in the diaspora and social media should not be the lenses you view life. Stay focused and grind ten times harder.

ZimSphere: The underground hip-hop scene is where your impact has peaked. May you take us through the dynamics of your relationship with underground hip-hop, and why you have eschewed the mainstream path?

BA7: I don’t like the underground scene, I just wanna make money and live off the grid mysteriously. The industry is full of demons that scheme underground or mainstream but I curved the mainstream lane coz I’m none trendy. I like to create freely and live on my own terms, nah mean.

ZimSphere: What is “real hip-hop” to you? Do you find yourself often nauseated by the contemporary currents of commercialized hip-hop both in America and in SA/Zim?

BA7: Hip hop is life to me, Hip hop is how I live, walk, talk and grind. Anything outside those lanes is just perception. I respect the business side of it and am happy rappers are feeding their families off hip hop/rap. I like a lot of commercial/mainstream hip hop, am not a stuck up old head fanatic. The current state of hip hop globally is more political than it is musical. Corporations and labels turned it into a money machine and means of influence cuz it’s the most played music in the world, they forced artists to dumb it down and neglect the intelligence. It’s all political.

ZimSphere: We have ploughed through your impassioned Cognac and Crimes catalogue with a sonically unmatched precision. What motivated you to use the title Cognac and Crimes, with all those ‘caine and lawyer narrations?

BA7: Cognac & Crimes is real life stories. I was just painting pictures as it is, that’s why I ain't tried to be technical or esoteric. It’s a splash of my real life cuz I live it far from being creative.

ZimSphere: Favourite cognac you sip on?

BA7: I love Honor.

ZimSphere: Why did you decide not to make Cognac and Crimes 1-3 publicly available? – we understand only Cognac and Crimes 3 is available on Audiomack?

BA7: Cognac & Crimes 1 & 2 are so Avant Garde and grimy so wasn’t sure if peeps would be receptive to such. I used them to create demand after dropping part 3 which is light sonically and less grimy. It actually worked cuz peeps started looking for the first two. I will upload them soon though.

ZimSphere: To a keen, new follower of your music, and to those who already follow it, how would describe your strand of hip-hop? What is your music about – your message?

BA7: My music is Avant Garde. It’s acquired taste and definitely not for everybody. My music is about my real life, my struggles, my loses and my wins. It’s my journey documented. Sometimes I splash esoteric gnosis and arcanum so that there is always jewels too.

ZimSphere: Sampling is a key feature pervasive through your music – the track Kudakwashe in Cognac and Crimes 2 samples James Chimombe – how crucial is sampling to you? If you can take us through your sampling procedures and the producers behind such magic.

BA7: Sampling is everything to me, I love old school music from all genres so I bring the songs back to life in a hip hop form. I always wanted to splash on that James Chimombe track but lacked inspiration on many occasions till I went through some difficult times and lyrics came through easily. I dig for my own samples 99 percent of the time. Masta BC is the producer behind the Cognac & Crimes series, he does the mixing and mastering. I write to the original songs before sampling and I prefer recording albums in a day. I like to keep the same energy throughout so I record albums in a day getting drunk.

ZimSphere: What inspires you – that which no one can wrest from you – to remain loyal to the lifelike reverence for old school hip-hop?

BA7: Real life inspires me in most cases and hip hop gave me a voice and freedom with the abundance of knowledge. I won’t trade that for anything.

ZimSphere: Cognac and Crimes 1-3 convey animated, recalcitrant stories of crime, sheer survival, and profligacy. Tell us about your lived experiences in Zim and SA, and how these have shaped your music?

BA7: Life in SA been grimy God. Been the grimiest and I been outlawing for survival from the streets to them prisons hence the music be spooky and scary to some. I left Zim as a shorty and ain’t much to reflect on. SA made me the man  am today, SA basically raised me and gave me game. The environment is a reflection of my music, was a kid so made a lot of poor decisions.

ZimSphere: How do you perceive capitalism’s impact – positive and negative – on hip-hop in Zim and SA, and as it comes from the States? How has America destroyed our organic hip-hop contexts?

BA7: In all honesty everything in the industry revolves around profit and that’s the new reality we cant escape, positive or negative and capitalism is at the centre of everything. It’s been positive in most cases especially in SA cuz they have an economy unlike Zim. America has not destroyed our organic hip hop contexts at all, it inspired and continues to inspire but most these rappers just create a life after watching videos of their favorite rappers in luxury haha. They emulate that and forget their own reality hence the disconnect.

ZimSphere: Sometimes, your music is punctuated with morbid penmanship. For instance, the oxymoronic title in the opening track of Cognac and Crimes 1 called Beautiful Torment.  Is this your statement of portraying “real life”?

BA7: Mos’ definitely God. That’s me just painting vivid pictures of my day to day life.

ZimSphere: Would you agree with the assertion that profoundly real art comes from a place of pain? Take us through some of your painful experiences that have shaped your art.

BA7: I agree to the phrase. Pain brought the best outer me, I was facing life in prison at some point after leaving his body for 6 pallbearers. That changed my life for the worse and topped up on the grimy things I had already went through as a kid. Losing my moms at 4 and my pops coning back to SA and never coming back. Growing up in different foster homes. Being a five times felon at 21. All these things built me up. Losing my daughter Maat was the hardest and gave birth to Cognac & Crimes 2. It’s many things I can’t talk about.

ZimSphere: Walk us through the soul-stirring creative process when you wrote and recorded the track Raw and Uncut.

BA7: I was hella drunk that day. Masta BC plugged me with Mmasello and she laced the hook then tOGa came through and blessed me with a verse. It was one of those wavy days but can’t remember much, haha.

ZimSphere: Has it been difficult for you to establish a Zimbabwean support base from SA?

BA7: Not really cuz I always pushed the narrative that my music ain’t for everybody and am cool with that.

ZimSphere: Any thoughts on the 2021 Zim Hip Hop Awards nominees and winners held in Bulawayo – particularly the impact for the underground scene? How has the mainstream success of Zim Hip Hop songs in 2021 helped the game, and how has this created a dangerous narrowness of the game?

BA7: I think the organizers are trying their best to wave it up, and I’m not that tapped in with Zim Hip Hop Awards but am happy Malcom Mufunde won and Stiiv was nominated. I don’t know any mainstream top songs of 2021. I really have no clue.

ZimSphere: The stories in Cognac and Crimes 1-3 are painted with riveting simplicity, yet so manifestly elegant, evoking visceral feelings of melancholy and victory. How do you achieve this, whilst maintaining an inimitable flow?

BA7: I have mastered this style and way of writing and spitting. The magic is in the beats. Those comfy beats make it easy for me to create.

ZimSphere: Your catalogues have songs with the titles Tiara Baluti Fly and Nadia Nakai. What’s behind those?

BA7: Tiara Baluti is my people and her hustle and way of life inspires me. Nadia Nakai is fly and am just paying homage to the queen and also letting her know I can ghostwrite for her if she want wavy bars, hahahaha.

ZimSphere: Who are your top emcees and producers in Zim Hip Hop? [no particular order]

BA7: I like Begotten Sun's production more far as producers go.

Top emcees: Damien Marcus, Malcom Mufunde, Ill Manner, Myneim, Abed, Stiiv. I like these emcees at the moment.

ZimSphere: Top emcees and producers in the U.S.?

BA7: Producers - Apollo Brown, DirtyDiggs, RZA, V Don.

Emcees - Planet Asia, Tristate, Hus Kingpin, Smoovth, Rozewood, Killer Ben, Nas, Sean Price(RIP), Ka, Roc Marciano, Snotty and Eto.

ZimSphere: How much do you value and venerate the synergy between media outlets and the hip-hop artistes – indie outlets such as ZimSphere, Zazise Media, The 263 Post, Support ZimHipHop, Nova Review, Greedy South, etc. – how important is media to Zimbabwean hip-hop?

BA7: Y’all like Rain, Oxygen and Flames. Y’all are needed for the growth of the culture and hype/shine on the artists. Y’all just important as the rappers and working together will benefit the Zim industry.

ZimSphere: For those who want to work with you [both Zim & SA], how may they get in contact with you? And where can people find your music?

BA7: They can get at me through email:, or DM me on my socials.

ZimSphere: Peace, Almighty. We wait for more profoundly touching art.

BA7: Peace Almighty. Thank you for giving me a shot.


You can listen to Cognac and Crimes 3 by BA7 (Amun Heru Neteru) via this Audiomack link.


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