Zimbabwe has some pretty amazing music producers you may or may not know about. These are some of the people that make up the creme de la creme of Zimbabwean music producer talent. Yep, they rub shoulders with music industry royalty every day in the work they do. Regardless of the cyclical nature of music generally which means producers do go in and out of fashion like clothing, Zimbabwe is enjoying one of its best periods on the continental and international stages where making music is concerned. Some of our biggest and most recognisable contributors to the world music industry right now are behind the scenes: The Producers!
Here is a list of 10 Zimbabwean music producers you should definitely check out.
One of the songs that put C.O.G on everyone’s producer radar was Takura’s first solo single Zino Irema. It got everybody asking “WHO MADE THAT BEAT?” His name is C.O.G a.k.a Child of God a.k.a Courage Manyumwa. More recently he produced Lamont Chitepo’s Hold Me Down from his latest 2018 offering, Life Emotions & Decisions.
Surprisingly, C.O.G mainly has his hand in many gospel hits to come out of Zimbabwe as a sound engineer on a number of projects that include Minister Michael Mahendere, Wellington Kwenda, Kuda Mutsvene, Gospel Power and more through Yoursound Studio owned by Nigel Nyangombe. He has a few solo singles too! At the tender age of 26, expect a lot more from C.O.G and he is a name you will hear associated with some amazing beats and acts.
Tatenda Terence Kamera has been making waves on the African scene for a while now. MTV Base even named him among some of the most talented producers on the continent, citing his contribution to the growth of the continent’s music scene. Where do we even start?
Mr Kamera has worked with the likes of Cleo Ice Queen, Ice Prince, L-Tido, Gemini Major, Mr Eazi, Victoria Kimani, Ma-E, Burna Boy, Hazel Mak, Cassper Nyovest, AKA, Patoranking and Yemi Alade (on Waka Waka), among many others. Together with the talented Simba Tagz, Mr Kamera did a smooth love song called Netflix and Chill which did well across the continent.
Here is the song he produced for Bucie and Cleo Ice Queen:
The song he produced for Yemi Alade
Philip ‘Pip’ Kembo is Zimbabwe born and raised. Word is he was headboy at St Georges at some point. He has always been a leader and there is much to show for it. His breakthrough came via an unlikely camaraderie with renowned beatmaker Sermstyle, all by chance. I will get to his impressive producer credits in a minute but other than producing, he is a successful artist in his own right, known by the name Dr Chaii. You might know the hit song Jackie Chan by Dr Chaii and Bantu perhaps?
In the wider music world, he is a Grammy-nominated music producer signed to Artist Publishing Group (APG) in 2016. He is a colossal contributor to popular music in the world right now and has produced notable records such as Latin Grammy-nominated ‘Hey Ma’ by Pitbull & jBalvin featuring Camila Cabello, ‘Questions’ by Chris Brown, ‘No Lie’ by Sean Paul featuring Dua Lipa and ‘Por Favor’ by Pitbull featuring Fifth Harmony. This Zimbabwean star is also listed as a producer on The Fate of the Furious: The Album. Pip alongside his best friend Tinashe ‘T-Collar Sibanda’ co-produced and co-wrote Jason Derulo’s hit single ‘Tip Toe’ featuring French Montana.
Pip Kembo on Twitter
Pip Kembo on Facebook
Pip Kembo on Soundcloud
When you mention the who’s who of the UK music scene Rymez a.k.a Rodney Kumbirayi Hwingwiri comes up very early on in the conversation. Not only is he young but he is an industry veteran with over a decade experience. Back in the day he even did his thing on the mic with offerings such as This Is Rymez and Dirry Cash Mixtape. A lot has changed since those days. Remember Wiley’s smash hit ‘Heatwave’? That was Rymez. The song got him many an accolade and it sealed his position in the music industry. He has gone from strength to strength and is enjoying one of the most successful periods in his career being responsible for some of world superstar Stefflon Don’s hard hitting beats.
Other artists Rymez has worked with include Tinie Tempah, WizKid, Fuse ODG, Sean Paul, James Arthur, Mr Eazi and Cassper Nyovest, to name a few. If you think he is not involved in the Zim music industry, think again. Remember the ‘Phil Chiyangwa’ song with the AHH Blog & Jnr Brown? That was Rymez on the beat. He regularly visits home and one of his biggest contributions on the Zim scene was the composition of Jah Prayzah’s hit Mudhara Vachauya.
Here is one from his collection of stellar work
Very few people can boast regularly rubbing shoulders with the continent’s music royalty like Riffi can. Think Soweto Gospel Choir, Jah Prayzah, Emtee, Davido, Shower Power, RJ Benjamin, PJ Powers, Scripture Says Acapella and Zimbabwe’s urban sungura outfit, Kambo Boys… to name a few. That’s only the shorter list. Riffi is regarded as one of the finest at his craft in Africa. He is not called the ‘Sound Sangoma’ for nothing!
Besides the work he does for others, Riffi is also one of the ‘triple threats’ on this list. He is a Sound Engineer, Producer and Singer. What makes it all the more impressive is he does all these VERY well. He features a lot on the music he works on for other artists. Word is he has an album coming out soon. Please Riffi?
Just check his work on Abantwana’s hit song:
(original link is youtu.be/OWp89y5Ls5u)
(There is a video of this song which has over a million views but can’t find it)
African Hip Hop heads will tell you that if you want a hit, you go to Alie Keyz. I mean Cassper Nyovest swears by him and for good reason. Zimbabwe-born and raised Almotie “Alie Keyz” Mtombeni is already regarded a legend in the industry. For Cass he has produced songs such as Destiny featuring Goapele, A Lot To Live For, Mangwane, Superman featuring Tsepo Tshola, Malume and Confused. He is also a music director for Cassper’s record label Family Tree.
His CV of beatmaking continues to grow and is one of the most sought-after producers in Africa. Alie Keyz has worked with big names in Africa including Soul Brothers, Himba Noi, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Exit and more. He was actually part of a band a few years back but he has become a household name as a producer of note.
Locally he has worked with celebrated stars such as the vivacious Sandra Ndebele. He currently is tutoring the talents of Ngoni Dondo otherwise known as King98, who is already being touted as one of Zimbabwe’s best Hip Hop talents.
Young Nash – Tapiwa “Youngnash” Nyagwaya signed to Anashe Media Group in 2016. He has had a hand in numerous hits over the last 5-6 years and was one of the major architects of the 2nd Generation Golden Era of Zim Hip Hop between 2012 and 2014. His hit productions include the mammoth hit Zvidhori by MMT. He was only 19 at the time. One of his biggest achievements was being part of the MTV Shuga soundtrack on the song Shisha Pipe by Karizma which he produced. He has worked with Takura on the Relationship Goals EP, Jazz Prosper, Marcques, Zambia’s Holstar and also megastar Roberto.
Here is the tune he produced forZambia’s Roberto
Young Nash on Twitter
Young Nash on Facebook
Another triple threat on the list: Producer, Engineer, Artist.
For starters Simbarashe Tagwireyi has worked with many of Africa’s finest musicians including Mr Eazi, Zubz, Dotman, ExQ, Burna Boy, DJ Neptune, Skwatta Kamp, and lots more. Back in the day, nearly 10 years ago, he was a little-known but talented producer who was behind acts such as Ammunition Girls. Who knew at the time that a few years later this very same producer would be considered one of Africa’s finest talents. “Simba Tagz yeah i-i yeah”
One of his biggest breakout hits on the continent is Dotman’s Akube which raked in tens of millions of views a couple of years back. Who didn’t loooove the song Zvakanaka with ExQ and Ba Shupi? I mean come on, Simba Tagz has been serving us bangers for the longest time now outside being behind the success of a considerable list of artists.
Good friends with Mr Kamera, they form a killer production duo with one of their most recognisable hits being Dotman and Mr Eazi’s Afro Girl. Millions of views on YouTube, over 7 million plays on Spotify!
Tinashe “T-Collar” Sibanda is a Zimbabwean-born music producer currently based in the United States. He has worked with American artistes such as Kevin Gates, Rita Ora and Chris Brown. He is GRAMMY-nominated music producer/songwriter signed to Prescription Songs. He has produced notable records such as “Say My Name” by Tove Styrke, “Body On Me” by Rita Ora ft Chris Brown, and “Know Better” by Kevin Gates (Suicide Squad Soundtrack). T-Collar alongside best friend Pip Kembo, also co-produced and co-wrote Jason Derulo’s hit song “Tip Toe.” I mean, that is an impressive musical CV, right? He produced Taps Mugadza’s hit song Burn The Roses from a few years back. There’s more…
As the artist Bantu, T-Collar released the EP “Africa For The Summer” which got him much recognition outside the world of production. One of his runaway hits on this EP is the song “Roll With Me” featuring fellow Zimbabwean, Shungudzo which currently has over 1.2 million streams on Spotify. He collaborated with Dr Chaii (Pip Kembo’s artist name) on the hit song Jackie Chan which features on the FIFA 2019 game soundtrack.
This guy needs no introduction at all. Beyonce. Drunk In Love. Grammy. That’s him.
Brian Soko has also worked with Lil Wayne, Cassper Nyovest, Kendrick Lamar, Chad Da Don, and Wiz Khalifa to name a few. On the business end he heads up Anashe Music Group which has a talented roster of works including Jazz Prosper, Takura, Reverb7 and Youngnash. He is taking it upon himself to raise the profile of fellow Zimbabweans. That is what I call mentorship! I mean he is a Grammy award-winning producer after all. That alone is a life-long achievement which puts him at the pinnacle, not only of Zimbabwean producers, of music production the world over.
Brian Soko on Twitter
Brian Soko on Facebook