ZIMBABWE’S rising star Tocky Vibes — real name Obey Makamure — says at 24, he is too young to limit himself to just one music genre and will explore as many musical channels as his talent will allow him to.
BY CHIPO MASARA
Listening to his new Mount Zion Records-produced single titled Vanoshora, undeniably a house song, it is hard to believe it is an offering from the same artist of the “Ah hi hi hi” fame who belted out Mhai and Tocky Aenda Nenyika back in 2014 when he made a highly-charged entry onto the local music scene.
While many might view the shift in Tocky’s music style as an attempt to move away from Zimdancehall — a genre made up of mostly ghetto youths from poor neighbourhoods — and leaning towards music that seems more suburban, the rising star said that was not exactly the case.
“I am a rising musician and someone who is still very young. As such, I cannot tell myself that I can only do just one type of music. I do not have to limit myself,” he said.
But the change in style may have more to do with the budding artist’s dream of seeing his music go global. The Zimdancehall genre is continually being viewed as stagnant, remaining ever the same, without force or vitality.
“I want my music to go global, for every country to hear my music and my message. There are different people in the world and we need to try out different styles in order to reach everyone,” he said.
But the house beat is not the only thing Tocky has been experimenting with. Recently-released songs like Tanga Wandimbundira and Madzimambo take on a soothing reggae feel that’s divorced from the fast adrenaline-rushing pace that characterises Zimdancehall.
Tocky said he was no longer interested in featuring in medleys where numerous Zimdancehall artists feature on the same beat, but had resolved to have his music producers compile beats specifically for him that would distinguish him as an artist. He said such a move had allowed him to be flexible in his musical journey.
The experiments — for which Tocky gave most credit to music producer T Man from Mount Zion Records — seem to be paying off. Apart from continually clinching deals for international shows, especially in the United Kingdom, the young artist’s music has received airplay on Trace Africa and some Zambian radio stations.
Speaking about what he has so far accomplished as a musician, Tocky said he was well on his way to achieving his dream.
“I do not want to be too proud. Everyone is a star but it is the way we shine that might be different. Only God knows the seed that He put in me. I give all gratitude to God,” he said.
But it is not only his beat that differentiates him from most Zimdancehall artists; his songs are laden with rich lyrical messages that resonate with people from all walks of life and of all ages. For that, Tocky said he had his upbringing to thank.
“I grew up in an apostolic church and my father had 15 wives, so you can imagine how large the family was. Living such a life helped me learn about people and how to live well with others. I experienced a lot of things growing up,” said Tocky.
In spite of growing up in a polygamous home, Tocky is husband to one wife — although he didn’t rule out the possibility of taking his father’s route in the future.
“For now I am just living for my music and I am married to one wife. As for the future, I don’t know what God has in store, so I will not rule out anything,” he said with a chuckle.
While Tocky may have managed to successfully wean himself from the Zimdancehall clutches — having been exploring different musical avenues — it still remains to be seen if he will be able to maintain the momentum along the “flexible” path he has chosen.