ALBUM REVIEW: “Mudariro” by Chief Chino – A Laudable Mastery of the Drill Sound


Chief Chino, a UK-based Zimbabwean hip-hop artist with heavy drill biases, has released his sophomore album titled “Mudariro,” following his successful debut album “Mpandawanda” in 2021. Mudariro heavily inclines towards an unfiltered drill sound, but it is punctuated by a dash of alternative rap sounds, which lends the album some worthy credence and replay value. 

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Mudariro is available on all streaming platforms and our humble observation is that this album showcases Chief Chino’s steady growth and organic evolution as an artist.

The Placement of Chief Chino 

Chief Chino thus presents himself as a focused artist who does not rush his things. Even if some may be put off by the drill sounds, what we have to understand and appreciate is that Chino is based in the heart of drill sounds. 

It is inevitable that his being based in England, where the drill sound enjoys considerable prevalence, obviously spawns drill sounds that are Zim-centric – if there is anything like that.

He appropriates drill patterns to tell his inner and public stories in a Zimbabwean way. It is a tenuous balance, since drill is a fairly new sound within the sphere of Zim Hip Hop. 

Drill has gained traction nonetheless – Fire Emoji is a clear testament – but perhaps Chino attempts here to tell us that he is also a chief when it comes to Zim drill sounds. Which is laudable.

His is a diaspora story by a Zimbabwean artist for a Zimbabwean audience interested in contextually knowing the experiential journey of Zimbabwean artists based in the diaspora. 

The extent to which he delivers this with razor-sharp precision and clarity can be an arguable point; but we have no other option except applauding this commendable effort.

Chief Chino thus blesses the Zim Hip Hop sphere with an ambidextrous flair of familiarity and novelty. 

We say familiarity because the drill sound is getting popular with each day; and we say novelty because a significant portion of those who claim to be Zim Hip Hop sympathizers may not be aware of the name Chief Chino. 

Mudariro is a project intended to stamp Chief Chino’s presence in the game.

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What Mudariro and Chief Chino Embody: A Detailed Review 

“Mudariro” is a 15-track album with a duration of 41 minutes. This makes it an LP that one can play without risking the dread of perceived monotony and banality. 

Chief Chino delivers witty and knowledge-dropping raps, raising awareness among Zimbabweans in the diaspora to come back and vote during the upcoming election year.

He emphasizes the importance of voting in bringing about positive change in our situation as Zimbabweans. Additionally, he addresses societal issues, urging the youth to steer clear of harmful substances, such as crystal meth in the track Local.

The name Mudariro is not fortuitous. We are all in this “Mudariro”. So get in the “Mudariro” and find a track whose story you relate with.

The opening song “Mweya” is an apt reference – we all need some sort of spiritual guidance “mudariro”. The heavy, lively drill bass, uniformly spread alongside the alacritous hats and snares is a statement of intent – that Chief Chino sits comfortably on drill sounds while forging bars laden with metallic strength.

Chris Raimonds (Studio V VII – pronounced ‘Five Seven’) flexes his intricate mastery of excellent production. The Don Vito Corleone feature in the album – who is a Studio V VII artist, shows Chino’s strong belief in art being an exercise informer by collaboration.

The opening track thus shows what this album is all about: A drill album that makes sense, although in some instances it suffers from some conventional hip-hop tropes and clichés. Can it be hard to make a hip-hop album without classifying men’s desire for opposite sex attraction via words such as “bitch”? Those are the clichés.

Done and Dusted, the second track, is a statement showing how Chino is street-conscious. It is a lovable tune. We get introduced to a new voice, Gambit Illmind, another statement of the close relationship that Hatfield artists share (Hatfield is a residential area in Harare).

Mudariro is an album about collaborations. Mudariro signifies unity and togetherness. You don’t step “mudariro” all by yourself; you do so with others. Track 3, Hongu, is a show of clever bars and instrumental uniqueness. It features another new voice, Nechy the Boy. 

We absolutely love these collaborations. Mudariro’s redemption lies in its wide-ranging instrumental uniqueness, one that still maintains the UK-influenced drill inspiration.

Track 4, Togo, comes with another new voice, Billi Creature, who raps throughout the entirety of the short track – and it is a story of unfiltered rap braggadocio. 

Nechy the Boy comes back in Track 5 titled Nyambo. As the title intimates, the song introduces us to the clever storytelling abilities of Chief Chino. With some catchy strumming on the instrument, Nyambo borders on showing disdain for police and violence, something that drill is associated eith.

Billi Creature and Gambit Illmind are on Track 6, titled Svikai Mambo – in which Chief Chino shows us his humble understanding of the spiritual world. It is a track that conflates modern rap sounds with traditional African percussion influenced by the Mbira sound.

The verses exude veneration of the ancestral spirits and world – making it one of the sobering conscious tracks on the album.

It is the palpable Mbira improvisation that makes a listener put it on repeat. With references to words such as “Nehoreka”, “midzimu”, “detemba”, “mugomo”, one has no option but to feel the “dariro” sense of the LP. 

But with an unexpected suddenness, we shift from such spiritual incantation to an unhinged celebration of a “baddie’s” behind in the expletives-laden Track 7 titled Baddie featuring Billi Creature and Gambit Illmind.

It risks the clichés previously alluded to, but the reference to Kikky Badass (a baddie’s ass) might be allowed to pass. Baddie is a track that shows the prevalence of conventional tropes in rap – that is, a sort of hyper-masculinity in which objectification of women’s bodies is normalized. 

It is as if a woman’s behind is all that matters over other aspects of her personality. It is quite hard for rappers, not only confined to drill sounds but across board, to extricate their artistic abilities from such platitudes.

But, what is a Chief Chino project without featuring long-time collaborator Kuda K? Track 8, Mcheka Dzafa, restores the album’s harmless drill flow in which Kuda K (who is also based in the UK) delivers an introspective verse showing his brotherhood loyalty to Chief Chino.

Both artists share their trajectories in the diaspora, from how they had little up to the present, where things are now looking brighter. Being comfortable on a lush Kana Boy-made drill beat, the two rappers tell us that they don’t desire people with “mucheka dzafa” tendencies – people who desire association with others when success is on the horizon but were nowhere to be found during the struggles. It is a “bro code” anthem; an anthem with a rallying call for “kungwavha”. Kuda K, aka “Muyera Dragon”, is always a refreshing voice.

To connect the diaspora with those left home, Euro Step – the ninth track featuring DeezNuts and Don Vito Corleone and produced by Portland – is the perfect anthem for this. Lots of witty bars and unapologetic rap braggadocio. And, put some respect on DeezNuts. 

Some enviable variation comes in the 10th track Kudhara, in which Chief Chino’s hard-hitting, witty, edgy bars are perfectly complemented with a maverick hook from REAP3R. Arguably the best collaboration and instrumental on the album. They simply but confidently refuse to take nonsense in this “dariro” called Zim Hip Hop.

It is remiss of us to gloss over how lovely the collaborations in the album Mudariro are. Chief Chino takes his precious time to plug other talented artists who deserve the limelight. 

But in track 11, MuZimba, Chief Chino goes on it alone, a song that reveals his existential dread and contradictions of being a Zimbabwean based in England.

It is a raw and hard drill song, unapologetic yet vulnerable with the lyrics. “Chandaida kungonzi MuZimba, chandaida kungonzi muShona...” he bemoans in the hook, showing how hard it is to please everyone upon flying to foreign lands. It is the struggle of all people based abroad – because people home think once one is in the diaspora they are suddenly wealthy.

We feel this track goes beyond being a drill sound – it is a political song gesturing towards renewed conversations between those in the diaspora and those at home. These are conversations that must transcend the narrative of “remittances” into something more progressive.

Tracks 11, 12 (Local), and 13 (2023) assume a political tone. The track Local laments the dire local material conditions in Zimbabwe, with Chino raising a grave concern about meth abuse and addiction. Zane Intle blesses us with an enviable catchy hook. Track 13, 2023, has one rallying call – the diaspora should come back to vote.

The album concludes with Track 14, Options, featuring Studio V VII’s Chris Raimonds and Don Vito Corleone. It is a slow-sampled track simply telling us to use discretion in exercising our options in this life. Don Vito Corleone comes to the fore by fully utilizing this album to show how smooth his flow and delivery style look like.

Track 15, Mkwasha Wadziva, is the final track on the album Mudariro, and Chief Chino goes on it solo. It is the perfect close to a good album, and its decent romantic overtures towards a favoured woman resolves some of the contradictions this album is dotted with. Chief Chino was meticulous with this project. We love it.

If you enjoy drill music, song sampled music, modern Hip-Hop, and catchy bars, Chief Chino’s “Mudariro” will undoubtedly become one of your favorite albums of the year, whether you are a fan of ZIM HIP HOP or not.

Conclusion: A Laudable Drill Project

Five standout tracks from the album are as follows (but this is just according to us): 

2023” – This track focuses on the upcoming election year and encourages Zimbabweans in the diaspora to return and exercise their right to vote.

Euro Step” – Chief Chino showcases his versatility by incorporating references to basketball moves, specifically the Euro step, to express his lyrical prowess and allow his boys to shine without restrictions.

Kudhara” – Meaning “that’s old news,” Chief Chino addresses those whose time has passed, rap artists with outdated flows, and people who thrive on gossip. He emphasizes the ever-evolving nature of the culture and dismisses outdated practices, such as promoters paying artists with mere exposure.

Svikai Mambo” and “Mcheka Dzafa” also stand out on the album

“Mudariro” features standout collaborations with artists Reap3r, Kuda K, Billi Creature, Gambit Illmind, and Don Vito, adding depth and diversity to the album. 

The production throughout the album is excellent, complementing Chief Chino’s skills and delivering a well-rounded musical experience.

  • Overall, the album rating for Chief Chino’s “Mudariro” stands at 7.9/10.

The album showcases his growth as an artist and delivers impactful messages while providing an enjoyable listening experience. Whether you are a fan of Zimbabwean Hip-Hop or not, “Mudariro” is worth a listen.

The album is available on all streaming platforms.

You can support the Chief Chino by purchasing the album Mudariro via this link.

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