His statue and demeanor speak volumes of him before he utters a word. Calvin embodies the ultimate hip-hop star. It’s hard not to notice his pertinent garb that screams “rapper in the building”. The sneakers, denim pants and a snapback are ample evidence of how deep he is into the hip hop culture, knee deep.
“Hip hop is on a crazy rise, the quality of beats and production in general is improving”
It’s been an illustrious journey for the Bulawayo rapper, one with its highs and lows yet he has weathered the storm quite perfectly. With 19 albums under his belt he is only reaching his prime now. The transition from underdog to hit maker is largely owed to his transformation from a Christian rapper to a secular artiste, which is not surprising considering the fact that Zimbabwe has little an audience to offer to such a novel genre such as Gospel hip hop.UrbanCulxure recently had the privilege to delve into the mind of Zimbabwe’s rising hip-hop brand and yes we got to ask some personal questions too.
Born Calvin Mgcini Nhlinziyo, the rapper chose to keep his first name as his rap pseudo, which compliments that aura of originality he has about him. Just to prove that he is proud of his roots he opts to rap in his mother tongue, Ndebele which is outstanding in a genre largely associated to the English language.
Taking it a step further, the rapper is dabbling in the clothing merchandise business as he recently launched his “Grade Street” clothing line which offers a selection of hip hop regalia such as snapbacks and tee-shirts. When asked about his personal perception of the local hip hop scene, he beams with the ebullience of a child and boasts openly of the growth of rap music; “Hip hop is on a crazy rise, the quality of beats and production in general is improving”, however he finds reason to lament in the fact that it “…lacks proper platforms to promote it on”.
According to him that’s the missing ingredient in the booth that if added to the matrix will give impetus to the growth of local rap music. Despite the challenges and odds that impede rap music, Calvin is driven by inspiration his muse being life; “Life inspires me, real life situations you know”.
The year 2014 was one of abundance, Calvin’s latest offering, the “Perfectly Balanced” album enjoyed wide coverage and enthusiastic reception. In his own opinion he perceives this album is his best work ever. One track that stood out was “Bebengakholwa” an impassioned motivational track that gives insight into the struggle Calvin has had to endure in the game and is a reflection of his will to thrive despite the skeptics that don’t believe in him, hence the title “Bebengakholwa” which means “They didn’t believe” when translated to English. Following in the footsteps of the now iconic Biko, Calvin is bridging the gap between Harare and Bulawayo by joining forces with Harare based artistes.
“Life inspires me, real life situations you know”.
The rap genius recently shared the booth with Stunner to make the collaboration “Mabhebhi Ekuno”.Speaking of the experience, Cal has nothing but praise for his counterpart and appreciates the wide audience he has gained through working with Stunner.
2015 could not be outdone by 2014, Calvin started the year with a new hit single “Z’khuphani” which caught the eye of Zimbabwean born Hollywood makeup artiste Jackie Mgido eliciting her offer to sponsor the song’s video shoot.
The video is yet to make a debut after the editing is done. More is expected from the star this year and he is up for the challenge, and he assures us that his fans will never go hungry as he has made it a tradition to release freestyle recordings every Friday in a campaign dubbed “Free Bars Friday” which are available on his website www.cal-vin.com This promises to be a spectacular year indeed.