ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Dollar 4 Dollar’ by Chris Raimonds – Exploring ZimHipHop’s new voices


CHRIS RAIMONDS emerges to the fore of ZimHipHop soundscapes as a versatile participant of hip-hop culture in Zimbabwe; showcasing the understated brilliance of his fine ear in producing  sounds worthy of some shout-outs. Though a periphery voice, his vision is not shackled to certain limit-situations prevalent in the music industry; as his consistency is a testament to the deep reverence he holds for rap music. He discards the flippancy some attach to rap; an art form he perceives as sacrosanct. His latest 2024 album Dollar 4 Dollar can be considered a worthy vindication to this end.

new ZimHipHop album by Chris Raimonds, Dollar 4 Dollar

The Studio V VII (pronounced Studio Five-Seven and based in Hatfield, Harare) founder and mainstay producer is not a completely new name in the game. And we feel this project serves as an introduction to his name. His imprint in terms of music production is evident in rappers associated with Studio V VII; and some of the rappers he regularly produces for include Don Vito Korleone, Deez Nuts, Chief Chino, Gambit, Billi Creature, among others. Through this album, Raimonds aims to spread his name and establish his recording domicile beyond the confines of his current reach.

Dollar 4 Dollar presents the ambidextrous side of Chris Raimonds, who envisions himself as not just a producer but a bona fide rapper-producer. While the album predominantly showcases Raimonds’ own curated sounds, which are refreshing in their own right, he also flexes some good production capabilities. The collaborations on the album highlight Raimonds’ laudable inclination towards the power of creative collaborative energy. 

Some of the featured artists may be unfamiliar to listeners, but that is precisely the goal—to introduce new voices. Raimonds’ unwavering passion for alternative ZimHipHop voices in the underground shines through. The artists featured, including Don Vito Korleone, Mycole Biller, Chief Chino, Miller, Deez Nuts, Liger Jack, and Billi Creature, demonstrate Raimonds’ trust in their abilities. However, there is always room for improvement in elevating these artists to greater heights.

Situated within the materialistic urban setup of an unforgiving concrete jungle, Dollar 4 Dollar delves into a world where monetary wins reign supreme. The album captures the longed-for yet ever-elusive pursuit of financial success, while also shedding light on the mental tumults endured by the urban youth trapped in this matrix. The opening track, Win, featuring Miller, sets the tone with its laid-back sound that accentuates the contradictions inherent in pursuing artistic endeavors within the context of hustle culture. It serves as a fairly engaging introduction to the album.

Broke and Famous, the second track featuring Deez Nuts and Liger Jack, explores a common trope in music circles—the disdain for fame without financial stability. It is a harsh reality that creatives face. Deez Nuts delivers hard-hitting bars over Raimonds’ distinctive sound, which stands apart from the prevailing trends in ZimHipHop. Raimonds’ production showcases his meticulous attention to detail, although the feeling that there is room for more finesse to enhance the overall sonic experience is unshakeable. 

The album’s title track, Dollar 4 Dollar, sees Chris Raimonds going solo. It addresses the conventional theme of hustle culture in the streets, offering little surprises. However, the interlude that follows radiates glimmers of hip-hop intelligence. In Your Hands, another solo track by Raimonds, hints at experimentation, although the songwriting does not fully explore its potential. Despite this, the track tells relatable stories of youth and offers insightful exhortations, highlighting the scarcity of trust, empathy, and other virtuous values in the face of the almighty dollar. 

Chris Raimonds ZimHipHop artist producer
Chris Raimonds. 

Tracks 6 and 7, 1:00 AM and Irimo, respectively, once again feature Chris Raimonds as the sole artist, allowing him to showcase his penchant for experimentation. It’s Only You, the eighth track, embarks on a worthwhile exploration of romantic excursions and the accompanying frustrations. The strum of the guitar complements the bittersweet tone of unrequited love. Maya, the ninth track featuring Deez Nuts, Mycole Biller, and Gambit, stands out as a notable highlight, with its glorious onslaught of lyrical prowess and enviable bars.

Chief Chino joins forces with Raimonds on Inner Circle, the eleventh track, fortifying the Studio V VII brotherhood even though Chino is based in the diaspora. Chino’s masterful execution, infused with an air of arrogant nonchalance, contributes to the album’s cohesive narrative. 

Track 13, Car Sale, features Don Vito Korleone, Billi Creature and Miller; and it has some stand-out aspects—narrating frenetically how a city woman was heartbroken by car sale dealers in the murky waters of romantic adventures—it does paint a grim picture on how men view women.

Track 14, Down The Road; track 15, Long Time featuring Don Vito and Deez Nuts; track 16, Proud; and the concluding 17th track Mount Zion concretize the motif of urban travails where money takes precedence and constitutes the common thread in people’s various life pursuits—except this is just from the perspective of a hip-hop artist. It’s all about a dollar for a dollar. 

On the overall, we view the project as an introductory note, with the names emerging being given more attention in the near or latter future. The album’s thematic exploration of the pursuit of financial success and the challenges faced by the urban youth is relatable, and the introspective moments provide valuable insights. 

While Chris Raimonds’ Dollar 4 Dollar may not revolutionize the ZimHipHop landscape, it is a good sign of his talent and vision as a rapper-producer. And as he continues to refine his craft and collaborate with emerging voices, there is no doubt that his influence will steadily surge. With this album, Raimonds thus introduces himself as a rising star in ZimHipHop, deserving of recognition and support from the wider music community.


You can listen to Dollar 4 Dollar by Chris Raimonds via the links below and share with the world your thoughts:

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