Meet Jidenna’s Zimbabwean ‘Best friend’

Meet Jidenna’s Zimbabwean ‘Best friend’


By Robert Mukondiwa

It’s a lazy twilight and an autumnal breeze blows across an avenues shopping area.


I am not entirely tardy but should have pitched for this interview a few minutes earlier and wonder what this best friend of a Hollywood A-lister will say at being kept late and waiting.

Classic Men...Tatenda Mutseyekwa (right) with Jidenna and a mate in the United States

The vision doesn’t look too good.

Through the magenta, syrup peach and violet rays of the artificial light in this café I behold him.

A mighty tonne of muscle in a white vest and sleeveless jacket which is battling to contain his rippling being. Add to that a well cropped jet black crop of beard about two inches long, which seems to be shimmering in the air-conditioned breeze inside.

This is probably the time to run back to the car and go away before I get a sound thumping for keeping him waiting. After all Stars and anybody linked to the world of A-listers are known for their blistering temper. And if they are under such hectic muscle the chances of a hiding form my late self are tenfold.
Rolling with J.Z...Tatenda Mutseyekwa rolling with South African President Jacob Zuma

But a warm firm handshake and calming smile greet me and a ‘je suis desole’ apology is casually brushed off and all is forgiven!

The man is Tatenda Mutseyekwa.

Until then he was only known as a mogul in the world of beauty being at the helm of the Black Opal franchise in Zimbabwe and the annual Black Opal Face Of Zimbabwe (BOFOZ) pageant. But that has just been changed.

An earlier conversation between me and America Wisconsin born musician Jidenna, riding high with hot hits like ‘Classic Man’, ‘Long Live The Chief’ and ‘Yoga’ revealed that it is here in Zimbabwe that Jidenna has a man he calls his best friend and one of his greatest inspirations.

“Aw man, I am humbled that he gave me that shout out (mention). We used to be in college together and yeah we used to do a lot together,” says the man his voice attempting a whisper as if he doesn’t want people to think he is bragging.

But with a voice the sound of broken grass; the voice of an athlete who Jidenna praises as one of the best quarter backs in high school football and rugby, a perfect whisper is hard to come by as it cracks and booms in between the failed hushed tones.

Well, not REAL football in our normal terms where we use our feet to play a ball but rather where big men in large fluffed-up costumes chase a horrible oblong ‘thing’ that masquerades as a ball with the aim of……yawwwwn. Yeah, that boring bad excuse for Rugby!
Mutseyekwa meets former United States President Bill Clinton

And it is in Boston Massachusetts in college studying economics that Mutseyekwa decided to study and met up with what would be the biggest rising hip hop and rap demon to morph in our musical time-Jidenna.

“He actually had a major that he created himself by morphing concepts in the arts,” reveals Mutseyekwa who has nothing but beautifully obscene praise for Jidenna’s great music.

“I even have material that we recorded way back in the day in the United States that is unreleased. It would look like he is an overnight sensation but the Jidenna you have only grown to know and love has been putting hard work and dedication to his art for like 17 years! Anyone who knows his will tell you that he is incredibly talented. Seeing him sing ‘Classic Man’ was incredible because that was another dimension to him as we know his as a rap god. That boy can spit!” says Mutseyekwa.

Interestingly Jidenna has the same glowing words for him; “he inspired me and is a great musician. I want him to perform again and release some music again. Tatenda is an amazing rapper,” Jidenna affirmed.

“True, perhaps it’s time I got back into the studio,” the humble Zimbabwean says.

He also stands accused of being the man that introduced Jidenna to Zimbabwean music.

“I introduced him to Zimbabwean music and he has tonnes of Mapfumo music that he would play repeatedly and has a keen love for. He is mad about Mukanya (Mapfumo’s moniker) and he also listens to Tuku (Oliver Mtukudzi) to an extent but mostly Mapfumo.

Said Jidenna; “yeah I love Thomas Mapfumo and hope to be able to visit Zimbabwe soon.”

Reacting to a question furnished me by upcoming artiste Tambirai Chemhere A.K.A Ultron Reigns before my interview with Jidenna, the U.S music juggernaut said he was open to exploring collaborations with local and African artistes in general.

Unlike any buff man, Tatenda Mutseyekwa exercises to turn flab to muscle, he is doing well in business but doesn’t post selfies of himself with influential people close to him, his air tickets or his cash.

And like an everyday humble Zimbabwean we watch the evening sky swallow the sun whole like an egg into a python’s mouth. Slowly. Deliberately. As we pour glasses of draught by the tap down our throats. Solid interview done-beating escaped!

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