By Kennedy Nyavaya
On Wednesday night, breakout rapper King 98 stood up to be counted among local music royalty when he staged a fired-up performance at the much-publicised launch of his debut Francesca album.
Out to prove a point, the 21-year-old born Ngonidzashe Dondo brought energy and sleek dance moves to the stage in a manner that laid bare the amount of hard work that went into preparations for the slot.
Speaking to Standard Style after the performance at Wingate Golf Club in Harare, King 98, who has been a target of armchair critics of late, said he had given everything on stage to let “things off my chest”.
Watch: UNION 5 Live performance at King 98 album launch
“I am happy the crowd received me well. I answered my critics by doing what I had to do and I really let a lot of things get off my chest with this performance,” he said in between gasps for breath.
Relatively new, but making headlines, some sections have written him off as a wanna-be whose rise in the industry depends on his father Thompson Dondo’s financial muscle rather than talent.
King 98 insists he would have done it even without the money.
“It is not about the money, it is about passion and I am really passionate about this and if people say it is about the money, they motivate me to go even harder,” he declared.
He added that he had to defend the investments that have gone into jumpstarting his career.
“Just because there is someone helping me, I had to go up there. I had to go there and fight for that person and I will keep on doing that,” he said, referring to his father, who had been been dancing and singing along through the entirety of his set.
“There are a lot of emotions and what people do not understand is I am really passionate about music and regardless of someone else helping me, it is a God-given talent.”
In the unforgiving music scene, negative criticism is enough to demotivate most, but the No Bad Vibes singer draws motivation from the hard talk.
“I am not going to give up for any reason and while my critics keep talking, I will keep going hard again because they keep on motivating me,” he said.
Meanwhile, King 98’s goal is to join the continent’s greats in touching hearts globally like his Nigerian mentor Davido, who put up a stellar performance on the night which saw South Africa’s Nasty C and Nadia Nakai also sharing the stage with local musicians.