Rise of the Last King: Greedysouth Interviews Jnr Brown [@jnrbrown263] #FewKings #KaLife

Zimbabwe watched it's own Jnr Brown grow from a young kid rapping along to songs on such Albums like Notorious B.I.G's Ready to die to one of the most talented rappers of today. Presently a star on the selective, recently teaming up with  Tehn Diamond and Take 5  to form a hip hop squadron "Few Kingz", Breezy is now featured in a daily profile of the zim hip hop genre. For anyone commenting on the Zimbabwean hip hop’s lack of shona street lingo, look no further than tuning into your FM stereo where the Harare-born and bred can be heard spitting game that leaves everyone on the same track somewhat overshadowed. Enjoy the interview below, which gives an inside peek at Breezy’s daily life, in addition to  great stories of how his journey began.

There is always a great story behind rapper names, how did the name Jnr Brown come about?
It originates from my grand-dad. He was from Malawi and his original surname was Brown. He was an amazing man and I love the fact that he was a recreational bass player. My close older cousin’s name was Innocent Brown Mpakula and his friends used to call me Jnr Brown but it basically came from my granddad. People started calling me Jnr Brown early on so that by the time I was 16…it was a name I couldn’t change.

What really influenced you to start rapping?
Every time I did it, people thought I was really good at it. I used to rap along to songs like Biggie…Hypnotize…”The Ready to Die” album. They used to tell each other that I could rap and my big brothers would ask me to do it again and again. So I wrote my first verse. From there, I did the V-Show at school - Marlborough High School and killed it (smiles). And from there I was just ‘‘the rapping guy’’…and other kids would try to challenge me. I kinda fell in love with writing lyrics and making music but I wasn’t recording and I didn’t record…until much later on. We used to make dates at things like the “The Circle”…The Hajila Movement… and we would just show each other our skills. Blitz was still alive back then and Kingpinn too. Lovejones (currently of ZiFM and Mighty Movies) was the first guy who was like, “Yo! …come through to the studio at my house.” And that’s how I started recording. The tunes didn’t go anywhere except the streets, but that set me on a path to where I started performing. Soon after that, Zim went into recession…so I lost focus and that’s the reason why I stayed on features mostly…because recording an album was long money-wise and just didn’t seem worth it at the time.

You can't really talk bout Hip Hop right now and fail to hear your name come up, tell me ‘bout your musical journey so far, what's your story?
If you ask me, we are slightly behind time in terms of Hip Hop and the level we should be at right now. Radio plays a big part in spreading the gospel. I tried to come up at a time where there was only one radio station. Competition with other genres was a HUGE problem…Gospel, sungura and dancehall dominated. The opening up of other radio stations was a Godsend. They knew the markets they wanted to tap into and they really supported us and from there the demand was more. Before that I felt like it was primarily me and MC Chita who were trying to push the agenda and now…we are many…Tehn came home, Chita came home. Quite a lot has happened to our landscape and now we are stronger. It hasn’t all been rosy. Sometimes with rap you have to sacrifice a lot of things. The story at the end of the day is that there was stuff that just had to be done and sacrifices that just had to be made…for raps sake. But the main thing is it was just gradual. More and more people heard my music, shared it…and over time…it all came together. The music wasn’t on radio or on line at the time…it was really just on the streets. Still, we learnt some hard lessons. For “Kings Rendezvous” with Chita, we made like, 5000 CD’s but the sales were not moving as fast as we wanted them to. Eventually we realised that it wasn’t about selling because selling was actually just slowing down the process of getting our music to the people. So we just started giving the CD’s away to people. As it was, there was nothing going on, on the streets back then. The result was that people started asking for performances. I remember doing my first performance with a CD and it started skipping. I can still hear some people in the audience shout “Get away from there udzoke warongeka!!!” (Get away from there and come back when you have your act together). That phrase stuck with me…I even wanted to use it in a tune (Laughs). But I realised I was longing it out. I was making things difficult for myself. So from there on, I just tried to be as prepared as possible for every performance. Then there was studio. Studio time was crazy. You had to hustle all week to make sure that when you get to studio you were properly prepared because you would get there and find Trinity or XQ recording. You could be there all day and not even get to record. You had to be ready for your chance to record…if the studio suddenly became free. That led to me make my own beats - to cut the long processes down and I became a producer. I didn’t really put out stuff of my own. I backed up my own music and stashed it away. Actually some of the stuff I did from back then is now part of the concept of “The Morning Glory”. In essence, I have been writing my debut album since my career started and have come full circle. The title I gave the album reflects that because I did work way back then, that I’ve been waiting a long time to share. I’ve been waiting for The Morning Glory and now that moment is almost here. Then I met my manager, Tsungi. She does a ridiculous amount of work to keep me consistently evolving, growing and progressing.
Right now everything is just in place for Hip Hop in Zimbabwe to do amazing things. The DJ’s are starting to work with us. All the important components of the hip-hop genre are starting to work together. It’s deeper than individuals when you check it….people were away and people came home…everything is just in place.

How long does it take say, to write a verse and how do you come up with these punch lines (laughs)
Rapping for me is what I do. I breathe rap. When I’m out on the streets…I can hear punch-lines coming from what people say in everyday life (smiles) and I feel some of that stuff needs to be put out there. It needs to be shared. Before you start talking about something on a rap…you need to really understand what’s really happening out there. “Handina kuuya kuzozvikoresa inini. Ndauya kuzokoresa town”. (“I didn’t come into this just to make this all about me. I’m here to give props and make it about my city.”) I’m on the ground and I’m in the streets so I pick up what people like from music…even some the old-skool stuff that just brings “it” back, that brings back memories. That’s why people relate to it.

What are the Jnr Brown Essentials, like when you leave the house, what are the things you would definitely carry around?
Usually, my phone. Coz…Management ka! (Laughs). Yeah, my management has to get at me at all times and naturally I also gotta stay in contact with my people. A lot of times I have my flash stick, incase I end up in studio and need to back up some work. Then there are my shades. That’s about it, I think. I’m a simple guy.

What's the name of your rapping style?
Uh…I think it’s just called rapping, my guy (laughs). But I think what people miss in rap is the “cool” that the Shona language has. It’s such a dope language and yet somehow when it’s time to rap…Shona is not so cool no more. I don’t know what will be happening in people’s minds. But that’s all I do…I just rap. I work to harness and master the cool in my native language and therefore I rap mostly in Shona but I wouldn’t say that’s a style. It’s just rapping.

So tell me, on a typical day like a Wednesday or a Monday what will Jnr Brown be up to?
On weekdays, it’s pretty standard. During the day…I am usually writing or recording and waiting for my managers’ call. On Wednesday evenings there’s Red Fox. (Laughs). Inoteerwa ka “Legendary Sounds” sumthin. Foxy Foxy Wednesday’s is dope. I have fun there. Besides that, I’m onto whatever program is there…Whatever is on the agenda, we run it. Essentially, I just focus…on living what makes me write what I write….

What can fans expect from you soon? Any albums or videos on the way?
Yep! There is a lot of stuff in the pipeline. Earlier this year, I officially teamed up with my boys Tehn Diamond and Take 5 to form a hip-hop super group called Few King’s. Together, we released a small album, “The Feeling Ain’t Fair” with tracks like “The Realness”, “I Need” and “Boyz Dzangu”. In July we are set to release an 11-track Delux version of “The Feeling Ain’t Fair”. As Few Kings, people are likely to see us perform live quite a bit this year. We are due to perform together in the UK in early August as well and of course, we are looking to put out a video or two from Few Kings.
From Jnr Brown, this year will see the release of “The Morning Glory”, the Madrinks video, among others, live performances and a lot more. I don’t want to kill the surprise factor by saying too much. Lol!

How did you link up with Tehn Diamond and Take 5?
Oh, I’ve known Take 5 for the longest time! We’re like brothers. Fizzo was one of the first people to put me in studio besides Lovejones. We’ve come a long way…
With Tehn, we met through the game and at the time, I only knew him because he had his mix-tape out. Then I saw an interview of his where he was asked what he’d been listening to and he said he listened to me and Chita….which made me listen to him and he was nice. Then I saw him perform and he was nice and we were just cool. I was a fan of that “H-Town Boy” track…and I always wanted to do a remix for it. Anyway…we ended up doing “Happy”…and of course, Fizzo was there…and Tehn found home with us and the rest is what you see happening now…

Oh, I’m a little late but it was recently your birthday... Happy Birthday son. Did you turn up!! For your birthday?
(Laughs) Yeah…thank you! It was a pretty dope day. Nothing elaborates though. It was popping off…in a kinda closed environment. It was just me and my closest friends in a private place, having some fun and whiling out together.

How can people get in touch with you say for beat submissions, features and bookings?
The same way you got in touch with me, ka! (Smiles). Through my management, New Sofala Entertainment. The first port of call for stuff like that is my manager, Ms. Tsungi Zvobgo. My schedule is really; really tough and she keeps track and vets everything. People can hit her up on Facebook or send her an email at tsungiz@gmail.com.

What is the future for Jnr Brown, where do you see yourself in the future?
To be really honest about that and just say that at the end of the day, my future is in the hands of the nation and my fans….I can’t go anywhere without the endorsement my people. Otherwise, rapping is what I do.

And what's your message to the kids out there who want to be like you at some point?
Wow! Ok, I’ve done other things besides rapping and you can tell if you are good at what you do. You can’t really force it…the people will let you know. Besides that…go to school. Rapping is tricky…It’s not just about performing on stage, studio and whatnot…it much deeper. You can tell if you are good at what you do…people will tell you. Kid’s shouldn’t forgo school. Go to school and rap in the meantime.
Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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