THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index
, Back to Inzwa Index

Outspoken: defying any definitions
Zanele Manhenga,
August 19, 2009

This is an Inzwa feature. Find out more

Read Inside / Out with Outspoken

View audio file details

OutspokenWhen did you start this hip-hop thing?

I started in 2003.

Why the name Outspoken?

Now I am going to tell you my full name. Its Outspoken alpha intellect the humble neophyte true indeed I am proof of mc aka I the kept brother inner silence love thy neigbour. Now that's the different parts of me. I am Outspoken yes, but the counter balance is the inner silence. I call myself the alpha intellect because like in this interview I am giving you the first thought that's coming out of my mind. But then for me to have that first thought I have to be the humble neophyte that takes time to listen. They are all counter balances of who I am. I am a very quiet and reserved person. Sometimes you find me quiet and you are like, hah what him? I'm still trying to discover who I am.

What's the biggest single moment you have ever had as an artist?

It's like after a performance when someone comes up to you, describing your poem or an interpretation of your poem. And saying that you taught them something and then through their interpretation they teach you something as well. When you know you have managed to touch a head. That's a wow moment for me.

Why do you have tattoos on your arm?

If you also look at my hand I have an alleged wedding band on my wedding finger. I wouldn't say it's not being iconoclastic. I don't think I should live by the definitions some else has created already. Because if you trace back existence you are going to go back to someone defining what existence should like. I won't say its because I am an artist or because I am hip-hop. I just like tattoos.

So you agree that you do hip-hop?

I have been defined as hip-hop. Unfortunately these are definitions that I fall under. I will say yes because it has been a major influence in my life. Growing up I was surrounded by it. I grew up listening to hip-hop. My brothers, my sister and my uncles they were all into hip-hop. But they have moved on; some are Pastors, some are mothers and some are doing their computer stuff.

Why have you used an American originated art form to identify with who you are?

The way I look at hip-hop is like it was born in Africa and grew up in America through the whole slavery thing. It's like having some cousins and so you are basically communicating with your cousins. I'm just using hip-hop as a vehicle for communicating my message. I think as much as it might be seen as a borrowed or an adopted culture, it identifies well with me coz it's about the message I am trying to bring out. So I think there's good and bad in it.

Does the type of music you make have a genre?

I wouldn't want to put myself in a box because right now as we speak the band will be coming up with new concepts and I'll be thinking of new word concepts and what not. So I wouldn't want to say what we do is confined to this or that. It's a combination of feeling, sounds and words. For me I would say, yah its hip-hop, and it falls under the hip-hop culture but then it branches off into feelings and stuff.

Do you see hip-hop as the new urban grooves?

No, no I don't. You know my one problem with urban grooves is I think its mass produced art for mass consumption at a very fast rate. The people that I see in urban grooves, some of them I know personally, they chose to sacrifice artistry for sales, getting money, recognition, fame and all of that. That's all through the message they convey. If you convey a message of oh I love, oh I miss you, a lot of people miss a lot of people so it's popular. But I am trying to discover myself and am speaking for people that want to discover themselves. Listen

How has Comrade Fatso influenced your music?

I think we learn a lot from each other. His style is militant and mine I consider to be soul searching. But then the two find a counter balance. As much as you need to be active in being the change around you, you also have to analyse what change you want, who you are and why you should deserve that change. I think we learn a lot from each other, we interact on a daily basis; he is the person I share the refrigerator with. So its like understanding the struggle on different levels: the spiritual, the physical . . . you know. Listen

How are you going to ensure your band sticks together?

I look at the band less as a business or an arrangement but more of a family. These are people I know. And I work with the energies of people who have the same mind traits, that want to achieve the same things, that are fans of music, that are fans of words, that appreciate feelings. For me my band is like my heart beat.

What is your music about?

It's about self-discovery and social issues. Social issues are governed by politics. So people tend to say that my music is bordering on political but its not. If you look at it it's an analysis of a woman or man and how it is to be on the down side of life; or down trodden. Seeing how one can better themselves without looking for trouble out there. How can I be the difference, to be the change in my life? Listen

What's your take on how people view themselves?

People have self esteem issues. On top of that you have peer pressure and also propaganda pressure. Billboards, television, talk shows. It's in your face even though you don't know it's happening to you. Whenever you hear the sound of a Coke being poured you think thirst and you want to buy a coke. That's part of the whole image. For the longest time I bought Sprite because I liked the whole basketball image. I believe that if people realize that it's not everyone who loves that image that's shown on TV, then people would cool with their own image. Remember its something that is subjective for me; if I was to describe a perfect being you would disagree. That description is not the same as the one that you would give.

What are your comments on the political transition in Zimbabwe?

I don't see it as transition. I see it as a moment of confusion because really now you don't know what's going on. Why are things happening the way they are happening? It's a time to question and reflect on our situation; where we are coming from and where we are headed. Just because you are coming from a negative space doesn't mean you are transitioning into a positive one. And I'm not saying it might be a transition into a negative place. So, like okay, what does it mean to get on our feet? Listen

Is it having foreign investors coming in and taking our natural resources like the privatisation of water? Is it going to be to the detriment of the people just so that the country is spruced up? Like the state South Africa is in now; it's a beautiful country, its got infrastructure but what percentage is owned by people? And what is the situation of the everyday person? So we say we are for the revolution but whom does it benefit? Is it going to benefit the few coz now people are driving Mercedes Benz and other cars while the people are still not that full, the people are still hungry. They are like, comrade, we were comrades together, where are art thou? The hunger still lingers!

Do you feel that these questions you're asking are on the lips of many other Zimbabweans?

The thing is we have different people in this country. You have those people that just want bread on the shelves and they are fine. You have the ones that want to be makers of their bread. For me I want to see positive change. If you get a cut and you apply a bandage that doesn't mean there is no wound. We don't want cover-ups. We want proper change. We realized that we didn't own our power so to speak. A lot of things got shut down in our faces. If we are going to reconstruct, are we reconstructing by selling off things so that investment comes in? Or are we going to say now we really want to strengthen the people. Let the people be in control, give the people a chance. Listen

Are you sure you are not a politician!

What I consider the game of politics to be is like this: you have players and bargaining chips. It's unfortunate that the bargaining chips are the people. So whenever your focus of concern is the people, you are playing against the other players who are the politicians. For them to win their game they need the people. But they mess it up when they think power is in taking away the peoples rights. The politicians are forsaking the people for power and that's the problem. Listen

Visit the fact sheet

Audio File

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.