Lyrical VernaKing: Zakwe

Musa “Samurai” Mbambo

Known by his career name, Zakwe, SA’s lyrical vernaking, Ntokozo Zakwe, Cebisa, Mdlolo, ayi! Linda, Xhangane, Shlabane. Wena Kazukuzela NjengeNyosi Iya Ezulwini.

A Kasi rapper that has made a mark in SA’s Hip Hop Industry with his bold voice and heavy punchlines of Kasi stories, has placed his mark within the mainstream rap scene and is classified a poetic lyricist on the game.

Zakwe’s latest album gained recognition and respect from the Hip Hop scenery which had majors such as; Kwesta, Stogie T, Cassper Nyovest, Ma-E. These artists are spotted in various tracks in the album, such as Roots, More Blessings, Blood, Sebentini, Hell including a bucket-load more!

Speaking of bucket-loads, let us chat with the Big Bro and get to hear his musical testimony.

AMzulu woqobo, kuhlehla ibhoklolo kujuluke insizwa, describe who Zakwe is around the ambits of that line from “Izinsizwa ft Mzulu”.

“Zakwe is a zulu worrior who fights with words. Precisely in Hip Hop as a battle emcee, I am very hard to defeat,” he proudly states.

Drive us on a trip down blow-up lane? What pieces completed your puzzle, starting from where you derived umjita?

I come from a township full of talent yet controversial, Kwa Mashu. I grew up around gangsters, hustlers, talented guys who never pursued their dreams, as well as school dropouts etc. The only major motivation for us, whether in a good or bad way, it has be HUNGER. Before being an emcee, I was a poet from primary to tertiary. I was that quiet guy who loved penning thoughts, playing soccer, attending talent shows as a fan etc. I fell in love with Rap Music from my early days of High School and rest is history,” he mentions.

Back in 2008 when the hustle began, what access did you have to recording material and resources- as it is was hard to lay hands on such elements of music production within the early career phase.

“I started recording back in 2003. We payed ‘Kay Master’ who represented ‘Ghetto Masters’ to do a demo for us. It was very hard because, we used our pocket monies to pay for the demo. I was in a group of 8 rappers, called ‘Killah Carbon’ and to date, I am the only guy who still raps.

I had to work as a front griller at Nandos, every weekend to pay for the groups’ demos, wasn’t easy at all. Until Kay started his own studio at his home in Ntuzuma back in 2007, it was more flexible because we were now friends and used to record for free”.

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What inspired your poetic stance in the rap dimension, in conjunction with the crazily authentic use of vernac. Your Kendrick Lamar take?

Rap Music shouldn’t be like reading a novel, poets encrypt and readers/listeners decipher, it is more interesting and exciting that way. As poets, I feel we have to make use of metaphors, puns, ambiguities, similes etc.

For me, any one can rap, but can you do it creatively, show skill, flair, perfect delivery etc, it’s ART, it’s more than just getting the message across. I am all about RAP (Rhythm And Poetry) not just the music “.

Let’s talk about your Street Album, ‘Zakwe’. What or should I rather say who deserves major credit for the production success of the album other than yourself?

“The whole team effort and perfect timing. From production, distribution, marketing etc, it was God’s timing more than anything else.There is no perfect formula to this, till today I’m grateful to God,” he says.

Cebisa, your 2018 album has pulled some heavy weight features. How did you manage to pull it off?

I did it through being humble and showing respect to people who have paved the way for us to be here. Having Pro, HHP, Kwesta, Mapaputsi etc. in an album was not as hard as I thought it would be, the respect I gave them, left them no choice but to give it back, it was all love more than anything.

The Cassper feature was very special, he actually approached me after hearing me perform ‘Sebentin’ at a hip hop show back in 2017,” he boasts.

Let’s talk about “More Blessings” ft Kwesta . Tell us more on that musical project and the feeling of being behind the mic with someone of his stature.

“Kwesta and I go way back, I actually lived at Kwesta’s place and hood for like a year. Everytime I work with the King it’s always special, it’s that brotherly love. I always knew how great he was, I’m glad God made it possible for my brother. When making ‘More Blessings’ we weren’t even in the same studio, he submitted the vocals, even for ‘Sebentin Remix’, many wouldn’t tell cause the synergy is real”.

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List your favorite punchlines ever spat by;

Local: ‘She can wave, if she board, like a surfer… Kwesta

International: ‘Ma, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it… Jay Z

Local Upcoming: ‘I can beef like ‘Bullbrand”… Champ

Stogie T states on Roots: “Zakwe told me let’s talk about the rhyming”. What spark lit before your ears and eyes on Stogie T where everything just made perfect sense?

The beat… When I heard that beat, I thought of the best emcee who could speak from the heart in SA, teach the YounGens and deliver bars properly, Stogie came to mind. Finish and Klaar”!

“Qugu qugu gqiri qikinqi,” if that’s correct hahaha! Where did Osebentini land you in your music career as it consists with artist in your kill grade?

“Hahaha, not bad at all. It’s actually: ‘QukuQuku Kiki Qekeqe’. It landed my music in Clubs. It’s unpleasant to be in a club from 22h00 till 4h00 and not hear a single deejay pumping your joint, I needed that. I received my first SAMA Award, a South African Hip Hop Award (SAHHA) and a lot of gigs. I thank God for the song, I thank X-WiseBeats (Producer) and Musiholiq (Guy on the chorus), the young bloods blessed me, I had to rise to the occasion. Shout-out to Cassper Nyovest, “he shares.

Any tributes to King PRO KID? Masingak’ khaphuna ithuba, ungathi ithini inhliziyo yakho ngoMfowethu uPro?

Rest In Power to the greatest rapper of all time in S.A, the spirit lives on. Today, we rap in vernacular, ‘Tsotsi Tal’ to be precise, because he showed us it is possible using flawless and effortless skill, eternal love“.

What would Zakwe do to assist an aspiring in reaching his/her goals in becoming a successful street representative artist?

Attend REAL RAP shows, not just club gigs or festivals, use the internet to learn about your Hip Hop, know what you getting yourself into.

Nowadays, RAP is regarded as a ‘Job Opportunity’ because it’s the ‘In Thing’, a lot of time, effort, dedication, sacrifices got Hip Hop to were it is now, in S.A specifically. Learn that 1st then we can start talking about you becoming a big rap artist, Musa ntwana“.


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