Silent Killer, ZimDancehall’s Creatively Intelligent Villain in Hondokondo Shiri Album

 By Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza 

It is reasonably safe to assert that most followers of Zimbabwe’s urban culture and its attendant urban music terrains are familiar with ZimDancehall artist Silent Killer (real name Jimmy Mudereri), but are not sufficiently conversant with his music. And that is acceptable because not all can religiously follow specific strands of music genres at any given time.  

The only fundamental problem arises when, without due knowledge of a certain artist’s position as gleaned from their works, certain quarters of the industry and the population write off such an artist’s name and brand everything they do as inconsequential, without meaning, and “bad”.

Silent Killer’s Resilience

Bearing unshakeable resilience, Silent Killer has valiantly fought to keep his reputation intact, despite countless attempts apparently aimed at wiping out his enduring relevance as a ZimDancehall stalwart. Armoured with an enviable militant tone and attitude, Silent Killer, who now calls himself Ngwere Yemulonyeni,  now seems immune to such negativity – but even still, he does not take these issues lightly.

He always stands his ground. Resolutely. And boldly proclaims his purpose whenever he gets the chance – i.e., to keep making timeless ZimDancehall tunes without hesitation; to keep the culture vibrant. While warding off the vultures.

The Rise of ‘Ngirozi Yehondo’ – the ‘Instrumental Serial Killer’

Silent Killer had always been active in Zimbabwe’s urban musical landscape, with a low profile. But his countrywide breakthrough came with his 2016 smash hit, Locker Mastreets; and this earned him priceless limelight not only within the ZimDancehall circles but the generality of Zimbabwean music at large.

With his credibility flowing from his Mbare background in Harare – which he still fiercely reps to this day – and the support of Chillspot Recordz, Silent Killer stamped his presence in the ZimDancehall arena (circa 2016 to 2017) with other hit songs that include Type Yemadhanzi, Birwai, Bad Like I, Handichaba, Dick, Vabva kuWestern, etc. It was looking good for him. And he basked in such newfound goodwill.

Intent on maintaining such unrivalled status as an authoritative Zimdancehall chanter, Silent Killer engendered a raw, hardcore, militant type of dancehall that had been missing for some time. His was a new way of doing things, unapologetically for that matter. Silent Killer proved his grit through countless freestyles that are scattered in the terrains of YouTube algorithms. His rise was complemented with other sizzling talents that include Blot, Dobba Don, Boom Beto, Hwindi President, and others.

A New Unorthodox Style in ZimDancehall – An Intelligent Creative Genius

This was conflated with a profound acknowledgement of Christian spirituality – his alter egos being Ngirozi Yehondo [Angel of War], Mikairi [the biblical angel Michael], and Mwana Muparadzi [prodigal son]. He has never deviated from such lyrical fury. And the name Silent Killer was  animated with the monikers ‘Instrumental Serial Killer’, and Rijinari to which he continuously gives consummate expression.

Silent Killer – from his formative stages till now – embodies the essence of dancehall culture in its entirety, giving it an unorthodox Zimbabwean feel; the spirit of Mbare’s garrisons. He proudly proclaims raw self-expression devoid of self-censorship; always ready for war; engenders explicit lyrical content bordering on graphic details of street shenanigans, substance use, sexual proclivities, police disses, and ghetto youth emancipation. Even if it does not immediately occur to him, Silent Killer is easily an ideologically-driven super intelligent creative genius.

For instance, he always shows an understanding of global socio-economic and political dynamics, exemplified by referencing Lebanese civil wars (1975-1990) and using the military word garrison in alluding to how low-income urban ghettos mirror war-like conditions of existence in the song Locker Mastreets. He regularly mentions Iraq and Iran in reference to lyrical wars with other competitors – noting how the fighting is in Iraq while Iran largely sponsors such proxy wars.

But more importantly, his use of urban street slang or lingua franca, as well as ceaselessly devising new slang words (thus expanding the continuum of post-colonial language conflations that mark urban cities in Africa) prove his creative intelligence. By employing heavy reference to urban street talk, he represents the youth’s counter-narratives as far as challenging intergenerational conflicts is concerned.

Silent Killer’s songs fortify his status as ZimDancehall’s smasher of conventions; he is not afraid with experimenting new styles that make him feel “true to the culture” in an environment where commercialization of art by elite interests rears its ugly head, resulting in the exploitation of several artistes.

Popularity Wanes, Reputation Dips, and the Demonization Starts

Circa 2018-2019, it was undoubtedly evident that Silent Killer had become an independent artist. And this is where polarization in ZimDancehall became palpable, up to now. In many freestyles, interviews, and songs, Silent Killer alleges that Chillspot Records’ DJ Fantan and Levelz exploited his success flowing from the hit songs mentioned above. This was the same time that Chillspot was accused of sabotaging Blot’s career.

In an interview with DJ Mbale, Silent Killer alleged that Fantan and Levelz had used revenues due to them (and other artists under Chillspot at the time) for their enrichment, further stating that they used such money to buy themselves cars and other material items.

In that interview Silent Killer sides with Blot, and insinuates that he took this to heart. He alleged that Chillspot Records swore to destroy the careers of artists who rebelled against Chillspot. And Silent Killer found himself in that storm. It seems his beef with Chillspot is an unending one.

After his breakaway from Mbare’s successfully established recording house/label, he began charting his way, but without discarding the persona that had brought him renown while under Chillspot. In 2018, he enjoyed substantial collaborative success, featuring with artists that include Hwindi President (Kune Vanhu Vane Mari Dzavo), Soul Jah Love (Dzika Ngirozi Sauro Adzika), Jnr Brown (Vaskana Vekwedu), among others.

He remained loyal to his militant style,  carving a niche of dedicated fans that could however not match the huge fanbase he had enjoyed earlier. This was also at a time when ZimDancehall lost its lustre as a pervasive and ubiquitous mainstream genre, a divergence from the success it enjoyed in 2013-2016.

But Chillspot introduced a refreshing crop of artists including Enzo Ishall, Bazooker, Uncle Epatan, Boss Pumacol, and later on the likes of Hwinza, Ndunge Yut, among others. Also, artists such as Soul Jah Love, Dobba Don, Kinnah, Hwindi President, Blot, etc. were being cancelled due to lack of appealing commercial success. Artists such as Seh Calaz and Killer T capitalized on the commercial success that came with their fame and thus escaped the labels applied to the likes of Silent Killer, Soul Jah Love, Dobba Don, etc.

What is incontrovertible is that Silent Killer’s reputation was maligned following the decision to take an independent path. But he kept releasing music. Those who ceased following ZimDancehall, or who followed the commercialized versions of it, might have easily said that the Angel of War was finished. Together with his close associates such as Hwindi President and Soul Jah Love.

Bad Influence

In 2019, Silent Killer did the expected – he released a song called Guka Makafella in allusion to the rising prevalence of crystal meth use at the time. This was at a time when many were attributing the downfall of ZimDancehall stalwarts such as Soul Jah Love and Dobba Don to substance abuse; and here was Silent Killer, boldly preaching meth to Zimbabwe’s youth! (Notwithstanding that Dashocca in 2018 had released a song called Guccamakafela). At this point, his dogmatic self-righteousness was getting intense. And it has remained like that. But he had cemented his villainy status in ZimDancehall. But beyond the veil of such drug talk, against the conventions of civil society, lies a super intelligent artist whose conviction in moral uprightness is unwavering.

The Industry’s Villain – A Dogmatic Lone Ranger

In 2020, Silent Killer’s status as ZimDancehall’s nemesis was fortified. With the pandemic taking its toll on livelihoods and the arts industry, no one was spared. But Silent Killer’s notoriety proliferated exponentially. He attacked all versions of commercialized ZimDancehall – releasing a diss song, Bird News (nhau dzeshiri), at artists who rose to fame via Chillspot (Enzo Ishall, Bazooker, Hwinza, et al.), suggesting that these artists were disrespecting him. From 2020 till now, he has found a music production haven through DJ Inno and Infinity Beatz (Rare Musik).

Silent Killer’s 2020 songs symbolized an ostracized artist who mounted spirited counter-narratives – and his infamous Ghettocrown King interview further led to people maligning his name and reputation. In that interview, he appeared to be intoxicated, ostensibly on meth and marijuana, with Ghettocrown inquisitive about Silent Killer’s substance use (in reference to meth).

His response was an emphatic “Yes!” – he unapologetically stated that he uses meth, saying “madrugs arikuvaka” (he mentioned the 2019 song Gukamakafella produced at Bigg Dogg Ent) before directing the conversation back to his music, where he immediately took his dogmatic self-righteousness. He asserted that he is morally upright, reads a lot, studies the Bible (referencing the Jonah story, which is now one of the central motifs in his recent catalogues), and saying that he fights “holy wars” – that he represents good over evil.

And when one closely listens to his music, he is vindicated in assuming this moralistic stance. As 2020 approached its end, he released a scathing diss towards Passion Java, accusing him of being a misdirected, exploitative culture vulture. In 2021, Passion Java linked with Silent Killer, first through freestyle sessions, and later assisting Silent Killer with the video for the hit song Mulundukwa – the video was posted on Passion Java’s YouTube channel.

2021 – Silent Killer Releases Hondokondo Shiri Album

Just as 2021 commenced, ZimDancehall and the rest of Zimbabwe’s arts industry was plunged in a sorrowful, melancholic abyss following the passing on of Soul Jah Love. Tributes poured in, and Seh Calaz – whose artistic fortunes in terms of financial gain and public goodwill were diametrically opposed to Soul Jah Love – organized for Yala Nation and DKT Records to produce a riddim in honour of Ngwendeza, which many ZimDancehall artists hopped onto and gave their condolence messages to the late revolutionary.

But immediately after this, Silent Killer launched a lyrical onslaught targeted at Seh Calaz, starting a Silent Killer-Seh Calaz beef. Many thought these were gimmicks to recover waning popularity and profits, but as Silent Killer kept dishing diss after diss, without a reply from Seh Calaz, it was evident that this ran deeper. And from Silent Killer’s moralistic stance, it was evident this was a serious issue he took to heart. Just as the Chillspot controversy. And Silent Killer thrives on lyrical battles. This was a matter of principle.

A snapshot of Zimdancehall's Silent Killer from Mulundukwa video, whose audio version was produced by Oskid.

Silent Killer voiced his condolence message on the Yala Nation-DKT riddim – respectfully acknowledging Tawanda’s contributions with the late Soul Jah Love in that song, Musara Pavana (the song seems to have been a Blot and Jah Master diss as well. Later in the year, Blot and Silent Killer became close allies in the face of industry vilification).

In Musara Pavana, Silent Killer beautifully honours Soul Jah Love, and says that in terms of genuine dancehall principles, being one of the people who stood by Sauro’s name and reputation when the whole country had disowned him, he is the rightful artist to carry on Soul Jah Love’s artistic legacy – the true Musara pavana.

The disses at Seh Calaz came through tracks such as Zuva Rekugova Nhaka – in which he assumes a new persona “mudhandi wemabhanditi ari musara pavana” in which he alleges that Seh Calaz, industry figures, and family members were covetous of inheriting material property left behind by Soul Jah Love.

His central theme was that Seh Calaz wanted to inherit Jah Love’s musical legacies when his solidarity with the late stalwart in his last days had dipped, he alleged that Seh Calaz cannot be the king of the game simply because such a vacuum had been created, “Mugoverei hondo kuna Yala, Yala boss halla...Hapana mudzimu waSauro haungamukire pamuri”.

The disses at Seh Calaz kept pouring – with songs such as Maiti Hondo Yapera, Mabororo, Dumbujena – all produced by DJ Inno – until this finally culminated into Hondokondo Shiri album, a project devoted to “disciplining” Seh Calaz and all other industry figures who had discredited Silent Killer as insignificant, and who had “wrongly” concluded that Zimdancehall had officially died following Jah Love’s departure.

Hondokondo Shiri – The Underrated Bring War!

Silent Killer has gracefully embraced his role as a villainous ZimDancehall artist whose songs represent upright moral principles. In July 2021, with DJ Inno, Silent Killer released Hondokondo Shiri album, a project that asserted his worth, and postulated that even though he had become the voice of the underground and the underrated, no one matches him when it comes to bars.

The 13-track album, with two bonus tracks – Mulundukwa and Makoti – was a reprieve for Silent Killer’s loyal fan base. And of course, it was utter nonsense to his critics. Laden with heavy use of street slang, it presents Silent Killer as shiri – common slang for the irrelevant – that comes with war, hondo. Hence Hondokondokondo being allusion to eagles. He is an underrated full of war – Angel of War – and will not tolerate any form of disrespect.

When launching his album at ZiFm’s Judgment Yard, he gave the context of the album. He said that when Soul Jah Love passed away, Seh Calaz proclaimed that the game had died and that “dzasara dzave shiri”. And this did not go down well with Silent Killer.

In the song that bears the title of the album, Hondokondo, he employs coded language to say that even if he is shiri, industry figures still want to open a butchery (referencing Koala Butchery) to kill such shiri! In that song he reminds Blot that “Giri, newewe uri shiri!” And this seemed to have been enough to motivate Blot to fight hard for his place. He declares, “The whole a dem dead and perish, dem greedy and selfish, vachifunga vari too stylish, nekuti ihuku, ndizvo here?

Silent Killer accepts his shiri status – but says he is an ostrich, and one does not easily see an ostrich everywhere nor can they just slaughter it – his earlier 2020 song KaLife Fanike Ostrich clarifies this concept. In the song Vanongo Venga he says the industry simply hates him for nothing but that won’t stop him from fulfilling his artistic mandate.

In Chinokura Chinokotema, he mentions Tawanda by name, referencing how Calaz was once publicly humiliated by former partner Moira Knight on social media. He says he is a leader by example and that there is no way Seh Calaz can defeat him – he refuses the victimhood. He says, “Tawanda akuchemera kuti crown timugove ... andidenha uyu”. Hondokondo Shiri is a self-righteous exercise for vindicating maligned reputation. And Silent Killer has every right to do that. Critical to note is impeccable production from DJ Inno whose sound engenders a hardcore style that allows Silent Killer to employ unconventional but highly creative means of sentence construction. They do so effortlessly. Enabled by the goodwill of one Boss Willa.

The Villain – Unending Woes but Unwavering Conviction and Work Ethic

Silent Killer kept releasing continuous tunes asserting his worth and silencing naysayers through 2021 songs such as Tinovachingamidza, Army Commander, Kafira Mberi, Team Yakabaka, Badness Installation, Batai Mbavha ft. Olembe (Holy Ten diss), Cde Chinx Africa Refix, Tinokunda Sei, among others, largely produced by DJ Inno and other producers such as Mobstar, Tarks, Solid, Nina Records, Cymplex, Oskid, among others.

But as 2021 approached its close, Silent Killer gave Zimbabwe another controversy to feast on as he was arrested for assaulting DJ Fantan’s young brother, together with other co-accused.

Now, the details of Silent Killer’s arrest and what motivated the assault remain sketchy but the story should be viewed in the bigger context of his bitter beef with Chillspot Records. He was released later on and released songs including Vaida Kundinyudzisa, Nobody Knows, and Handiseke, all produced by DJ Inno.

In these songs, he explained his side of the story, reiterating that the industry was out to get him and throw dirt on his name, and that the wronged parties lied to Zimbabwe’s masses by not giving the full context of what motivated all the actions that followed.

Silent Killer’s 2022 songs include Freestyle, done on Rare Musik’s Takaenda Riddim with Gzzy, and he has featured on Eyetal Fire’s 2022 single Pull Up.

What is salient however, is that Silent Killer chooses silence or violence, if you respect him, it’s peace and silence. If you violate his dignity, it’s violence. Hence the name Silent Killer. Angel of War. What he only kills are instrumentals. His abstract art is revolutionary and intelligent. Silent Killer is deeply ideological.

You can stream Hondokondo Shiri Album by Silent Killer on Dj Inno's YouTube channel.

Or you can download Hondokondo Shiri via this link.

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