Mgcini "Cal Vin" Nhliziyo: Zim Hip Hop Loses A Part Of Itself

An article by Tafadzwa Madzika & Gerald Muchandiona 

They say the good die young and that's painfully true. It's a realization I try to make less painful but saying to myself at least heaven has young souls. But you can't escape the pain of death, the finality of this loss is unlike any other and every time you come into contact with it, it doesn't hurt any less. The year 2020 doesn't seem to understand that people can only take so much pain. 

Sunday the 25th of October is a day Zimbabwe as a nation experiences again that awful pain of loss. Mgcini Calvin Nhliziyo popularly known by his rap persona Cal Vin is no more. An originator, an innovator, a unifier, a visionary and an unbelievable talent. A celebrated son of Zimbabwe. Luveve and Bulawayo's very own. The roses are out in full bloom today we're just hoping you can see them, we're just hoping you can catch a glimpse of this love because sometimes in death is only when we realize what we had. As Calvin himself once said;


A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I'll sell 'em for a dollar
They're worth so much more after I'm a goner
And maybe then you'll hear the words I've been singing
Funny, when you're dead how people start listening

A rapper, a singer, a producer, a multi award winner, a brother, a son and a father were among his many earthly titles. Besides the Bulawayo-Harare highway, through his artistic pursuits Cal Vin was the next biggest bridge between the two cities. A man who paved the way for Ndebele-Rap and he walked so artists like Asaph, GTi just to mention a few could run. He brought out fully the concept that there's power through collaboration.

Cal once gave us heights of excitement we hadn't known before in Zim hip-hop when he collaborated with Cassper Nyovest in an effort to bring unity during an episode of xenophobia in South Africa. He positioned himself in strategic areas in the Hip Hop genre while at the same time bringing about exciting episodes to the music. For instance his back and forth with Jnr Brown brought such an exciting and interrogative episode in the Zimbabwean Hip Hop scene which birthed growth and eventual unity evidenced by Cal hopping onto the Amen (Remix) with Mr. Brown. 

Being an artist or creative in a country with a economic diarrhea is an obstacle that saw many artists exchange the stage for office jobs. Cal Vin made his own beats, wrote his own raps and produced the music. Sounds to me like the perfect signing that any major record label would hunt for. However working against the Zimbabweans odds Cal created and sold his own autographed music followed by the bonus of a selfie with the artist. 

Its so hard for to keep referring to Cal in the past tense because for those that followed his music he is and still forever present musically. Cal believed so much in his art that he went head to head with media entities like SkyMetro Radio Station for not playing his music. In this “PAYOLA” environment he stood tall and loud for his art. 

He might have departed but he left us with a packed catalogue and unifying task. There is still more work to be done in relation to this task, when it comes to building that highway that seamlessly carries Zimbabwean Hip Hop without being the product being labelled either “Shona Rap” or “Ndebele Rap”.  

In the past months before his sudden demise Cal had been working on an album titled “THE GIFTED MOST HATED LOVED ONE”. 

The irony of the album cover is that it's like he knew he was leaving us. We hope that someday this project will eventually be released. He left a heritage for his family, in our opinion the best way we can support his family is by streaming and purchasing his music. 

The music lives on, thank you Mgcini "Cal Vin" Nhliziyo.

You can find part of the artist's catalogue here. Also check out below one of our favorite offering from Cal Vin. 

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