Manicaland Artiste defies odds

Harare based artiste Diego Tryno will stop at nothing in persuing his biggest dream in the rap game( a rap game with no language barriers).

Once termed Ricky D in the Zimdance hall circles Diego has surely had a taste of different genres but finally found home in Hip hop.

Finding his feet in the rap game is no easy fit as they are a lot of barriers. One which is being a stranger to his own people. To fight this he has come up with an alternative to incorporate different language in his bars.

“Singing in one language is a lot harder,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s the fans and the location. In Harare, you’ll go the long way around saying rhymes in Shona and the fans like it. But that’s also a limitation to you because you’d be losing a couple of English speaking fans regionally.” he said.

But there are areas of overlap as well as divergence. Diego Tryno has bolstered his profile in English-speaking markets by collaborating with USA, South African and Botswanan singers such as the US star Carsef. Last year, he played on radio shows in Colorado. Nutty O followed in his footsteps in August. Traffic across the English Channel is building in volume.

Although his all English track ‘’go diego go’’ gave him his first award in 2014, the first time he used Shona and English in a song was in 2015. The occasion was a guest appearance on a track by the musician TC. After it came out, Diego noticed a surge of interest on Facebook, with people asking: Who’s this guy that’s rhyming shona? “From then on, I knew that that was my niche,” Diego said.

His shift is partly driven by demographic change, the need to belong to the group of Harare musicians. The proportion of musicians of Manicaland background doubled between 2016 and 2018 in Harare, when the Zim-Hiphop genre started to blossom.

Since then, numerous variants have sprung up, a dizzying profusion of subgenres with names like Afro pop and contemporary. The proliferation is partly a fad. Many of those keeping the subgenres going are from Manicaland.

But the overall hybrid style, moving easily between urban drills, Takura’s sing-rapping, Enzo’s dance hall and Jah Prayza’s contemporary, is more than a trend. It has taken root in the mainstream as a newly dominant mode of urban music in Zimbabwe. Its geographically profuse sound is epitomized by a forgotten star of Zimdancehall, Tocky Vybez, who was born in Rugare but started his musical journey from Rusape Manicaland. But Tocky’s career hangs in the balance.

“I feel like there’s a big wave over shadowing artistes from other cities and seems like the main focus is situated in Harare,” Diego Tryno said. “Some Award entries requires you to do physical submission which demerits that artist who has no means of getting to Harare.”

And his own efforts not to brand his artistry according to location and infiltrate the international markets will continue, he added.

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