By Comrade Fatso & Chabvondoka International Management
Published December 21, 2011
Comrade Fatso, one of Zimbabwe’s most pioneering spoken word artists whose critically acclaimed first album, House of Hunger, was banned in the country, has launched a single titled Korokoza (which means ‘to hustle’ in Shona).It features leading Zimbabwean hip hop MC, Outspoken, and one of Mali’s most gifted balafon players, Lassana Diabaté.
A media release issued in New York (USA) and Harare (Zimbabwe) on December 19, 2011 describes Korokoza as “a hopeful song dedicated to the resilience of Zimbabweans and people across the world who struggle to survive. Combining English with Shona, hip hop with the balafon and Zimbabwe with Mali the track presents a fresh, new international urban sound.”
And what is the background to Korokoza?
Zimbabwe has suffered under a decade of political violence, record-breaking inflation and an exodus of its population. At one time, Zimbabwe had one of the strongest and most diversified industrial infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. Confronted by widespread power blackouts and fuel shortages, factories are now operating at less than 20% while unemployment hovers at 80%. Opposition activists and journalists are still routinely arrested by a ZANU (PF) regime desperate to cling to power. With ZANU (PF) pushing for elections in 2012 political violence is on the increase. Indeed, the entire band and film crew were detained by the authorities for more than five hours during the filming of the Korokoza video.
The poetry of Zimbabwe-bred Comrade Fatso is street, urban, hip hop and African and is studied at universities in the USA, the UK, South Africa, Germany, Denmark and France. His poetry has been published in Barbados, Germany and Holland. A powerful performer, he is also in high demand as a host due to his quick wit and ease on stage.
Comrade Fatso and his band, Chabvondoka, are an explosive, genre-busting, insurgent act that defies musical boxes. This multi-racial African band seamlessly blends sounds as diverse as rock, hip hop, chimurenga, jiti, kwaito and reggae.
The band’s debut album House of Hunger was praised internationally but banned in Zimbabwe due to its “political content”. They have performed extensively throughout Europe, USA, Caribbean and Africa and in 2010 performed at one of Europe’s biggest Festivals, the prestigious Exit Festival. 2010 also saw Comrade Fatso headline the popular Crop Over Festival in Barbados. The year ended on a high note with their inclusion in Discograph’s Africa 50 Years Of Music, a compilation of the best African music from the last 50 years.
Outspoken, on the other hand, is a spoken word artist from Harare, combining soul-stirring, politically-infused lyrics with an Afrosoul hip hop sound. He is the front man of Harare-based band, Outspoken and The Essence, a fusion of hip hop with reggae, soul, rock and African rhythms. He is also one half of hip hop duo,Dialectrik Blue, an underground outfit with a hard-hitting message. Outspoken has performed throughout Europe, Africa and North America and often collaborates with Comrade Fatso.
Born in Guinea into a family of virtuoso balafon players, Lassana Diabaté moved as a young man to Bamako in the early 1990s. He has since become fêted as Mali’s most gifted player of the 22-key xylophone of the Mandé griots, appearing on albums by Salif Keita, Bassekou Kouyate, and Kasse Mady Diabaté, among others, and has been a long-standing member of Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra. He also played on Kulanjan, Toumani’s celebrated collaboration with the American bluesman Taj Mahal.
Korokoza is a global collaboration, recorded in Zimbabwe and Mali and mixed and mastered in the UK and the USA. It is produced and released on the Nomadic Wax record label that haS since 2001 grown into an internationally-recognised brand in global urban music and media, working with hundreds of pioneering artists worldwide. Focusing on Africa and the African diaspora, Nomadic Wax has expanded its projects into the Middle East, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.It now also produces film, music, and educational events, specialising in hip hop and underground music from around the globe.