African Musician: Zubz

Submitted by Swazibella Sept. 23, 2009, 6:52 a.m.

Zubz

Ndabaningi Mabuye

Born in Kasama, Zambia in July 1976, Ndabaningi Mabuye moved to Zimbabwe with his family in the then newly Independent Zimbabwe. It was while growing up in Harare that Ndaba fell in love with Hip Hop and fast became an active contributor to the culture in his primary school through school variety shows. His friends started to call him Zubz, as an interpolation of the shortened version of his name, Ndabs. Out of class Zubz became widely recognized as the rapping sensation, while in class, Ndaba won literary award after literary award for his poetry and short stories.

By the time Zubz finished his high school studies, he had already begun establishing himself as a leading MC in Harare and had shared the stage with local and international stars including American Hip Hop crew from Queens, The Lost Boys. A year after completing his Cambridge A Levels, Zubz relocated again, this time to neighboring South Africa. There he attended Rhodes University in Grahamstown where he studied towards an undergraduate Bachelors Degree in Commerce majoring in Information Systems, Economics and Commercial Law. In between lectures, Zubz did demo music recordings at a local studio in Grahamstown for himself, fellow students as well as local rappers in the city’s townships. He was also a popular Club and Campus Radio DJ giving him a solid reputation as an entertainer. Zubz was requested to perform, inspire and mentor the youth in both the township and the city’s High Schools. Before long his reputation spread to Johannesburg where many anticipated hearing and seeing him perform. They weren’t to be disappointed.

After graduating from University in 1999, Zubz moved yet again; this time to Southern Africa’s Bright Light City, Johannesburg. It was in Jozi that Zubz began his Hip Hop quest. He entered and won a noteworthy MC battle in the city, giving him a formidable rep as a freestyle rapper. His affiliation with Media Company Black Rage Productions became key to his professional career as later, Black Rage would establish the trailblazing Outrageous Records, whose first signing would be the MC Zubz. It was not long before Zubz’ songs were heard on all leading radio stations across the country. His song, ‘Family Of One’ was hailed as one of the best oratory songs in SA Hip Hop by all who heard it. Soon after, Zubz released a mixtape, The Last Letta Mixtape, to sample the strength of his fan base and create a buzz for his first professional album. He called it ‘Last Letta’ representing his emblem, the ‘Z’. A year later in 2004, this buzz caused high anticipation in the SA Hip Hop music industry and Zubz rose to the challenge with his monster debut album Listeners Digest. The album cemented Zubz’ position as one of Southern Africa’s best MCs with a South African Music Award (SAMA) nomination for Best Hip Hop in 2005. A year on, his follow up album, Headphone Music In A Parallel World was equally well received giving him a second successive SAMA nomination for Best Hip Hop in 2007. Throughout this period Zubz shared the stage with Africas finest from Senegal’s Pee Frois, Awadi and Positive Black Soul to South Africa’s Hugh Masekela, Pops Mohammed, Mafikizolo, HHP, Godessa, Kabelo and many more. Internationally, Zubz has headlined alongside artists spanning from the UK’s Black Twang and Finga Thing to Canada’s K-OS, Sweden’s Super Sci and America’s Talib Kweli. Zubz has performed in 8 countries in Africa and over 4 countries in Europe. Every crowd he has been in front of, he has rocked without fail.

Zubz’ social consciousness is not only manifested in his lyrics. He is never one to ignore his community. In the last two years, Zubz has held workshops with disadvantaged youth in South Africa’s townships of Soweto and Alex. Through a project known as RIZE Mzansi, Zubz has held ongoing writing workshops in both townships. In 2006, Off The Hook Productions, together with the Minno Foundation and the Soweto Arts Council took Zubz to Oslo Norway to conduct workshops as part of the African History Week programme there.

Zubz has recently completed a 6 workshop, skills imparting programme spread over 2 months called the Phakamani Training Programme in which he facilitated workshops with 12 young disenfranchised youth in Johannesburg’s marginalized Orange Farm township. He has also completed the first phase of a British Council High Schools initiative called Power In The Voice in which he served as head mentor. The 6 month programme culminated in a schools competition which saw his group of young people scoop top honours at the event.

Zubz has also been actively involved in the Dutch based company Music Mayday initiative The Virus Free Generation; an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign uniting leading African and European artists in the ongoing fight against the disease in Africa.

With his third official album Cochlea – One Last Letta in the offing it is little wonder why anticipation for Zubz’ newest material is so high. The first single from that album, “Time To Heal – A New Era” featuring Pedro of popular dub-fusion crew 340ml, has already been play listed on over 6 leading SA Radio stations and has been received well.

Without question, Zubz The Last Letta is the epitomy of passion and commitment. He talks it like he walks it and his body of work is proof of that. It is no wonder many consider him SA Hip Hop royalty and the crème de la crème of lyrical wizardry. Ask him how he feels about it all and he is quick to smile, “All this? Come on, I haven’t even begun my real work yet!”

Zubz on Myspace
Zubz on Facebook

Song lyrics
Cochlea One Last Letta (2009)
Part time lover, full time freak

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