A Conversation With Tanto Wavie, The TrapSu Don: "The Youth In Zimbabwe Don’t Give Sungura Enough Credit"

Chitungwiza-based Hip-Hop artist, Tanto Wavie has won the hearts of many Zimbabwean music fans through TrapSu - his own genre, movement, and sound. Just like its name, TrapSu is a marriage of Trap and Sungura - a unique marriage indeed. Tanto Wavie, born Shingirai Makaza who is a songwriter, performing artist, rapper, and producer has successfully blended the Hip Hop and Sungura cocktail to make his own genre and movement, TrapSu (short for Trap Sungura). Four years in, TrapSu has become a familiar and a favourite sound for many. Someone would have to try so hard to ignore such a movement TrapSu. 

According to Redbull.com Trap is a subgenre of Hip Hop music that originated in the Southern United States during the 1990s. The genre got its name from the Atlanta slang word "trap". Trap music comprises synthesized drums and consists of complex hit-hat patterns, and tuned kick drums with a long decay (originally from the Roland TR-808 drum machine). It utilizes very few instruments and focuses almost exclusively on snare drums and double or triple-timed hit-hats. Trap has largely risen over the last decade, it has risen becoming a dominating subgenre in Hip Hop and also some elements spilling over into contemporary music. On the other hand, According to a 2012 journal article by Tony Perman, Sungura or Museve music is a genre of popular music in Zimbabwe that emerged just as local nationalists successfully fought for Independence in 1980. Pindula goes on to allude that the genre was popularized in the 1980s by groups like Khiama Boys, Zimbabwe Cha Cha Cha Kings, and Leonard Dembo. 

The aforementioned publication goes on to argue that the genre originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Sungura is said to be a by-product of kanindo-rhumba. Greats such as Bothwell Nyamhondera are credited as the originators and early adopters of Sungura. So, technically Sungura music is considered an indigenous sound in Zimbabwe.

A Conversation With Tanto Wavie
The music man
Image: Travolta

Tanto is a rare breed, a producer-turned-artist, songwriter, and rapper who created his own genre. There are so many versions of how his musical journey started but when asked he says, "I started my musical journey in 2010 during my high school days. I was producing Afropop, Dancehall, and even Hip Hop, which later resonated with Trap on a higher frequency. My love for Trap and Sungura ignited the birth of TrapSu". Tanto credits his love for Trap and Sungura to have inspired the birth of the TrapSu movement, "I felt that Trap was digestible and enjoyable with an element of Sungura." His raps are predominantly in Shona and when quizzed if it was a calculated aspect he responded, "I grew up in the ghetto and we mainly converse in vernacular in the ghetto, we use English here and there but l get to communicate easily and clearly in Shona.

Shona covers larger demography in Zimbabwe, even other races and ethnicities vibe to Shona music." His musical journey has flourished with the ultimate support of his community, Chitungwiza. Chitungwiza is located 25km away from Zimbabwe's Capital city, it has been accepted as the home of musical greats. Metaphorically, it can best be described as our own Rock of Gibraltar, Stonehenge, or Taj Mahal, our own musical monument." Chitungwiza plays an integral role in my music career, the city embraces arts with pride. Keep in mind Chitungwiza is home to Macheso, Maskiri, and John Chibadura" says the TrapSu Don on the role Chitungwiza plays in his artistic journey.

A Conversation With Tanto Wavie
The music man
Image: Travolta

"The music l make even awes me at times, sometimes l reflects how genius some of the output l would have produced and let it digest," said Tanto on the comprehension of his artistic capabilities. Questioned about the level of responsibility and weight of carrying a whole movement, he chuckles before saying, "It feels great and a surreal experience, the only challenge is you become a target and competition becomes stiff. And of course, with time l will be recruiting more musicians, the genre is now 4 years old, growing stronger." Tanto Wavie revealed that his visuals always complement the music and align creatively because of the fact that he works closely with music video directors to bring his lyrics to life. The ability and control Tanto has over the TrapSu cruise ship are one of the main reasons he is where he is musical. He has managed to build such a devoted online fanbase with his socials mostly flooded with feedback from his audience. "You can easily translate whatever is in your head into music because the vision will be clearer in my head" unpacked Tanto crediting how his all-around artistry wearing the producer, writer, and rapper hats simultaneously has been one of the main drivers of his success.

His latest album, Sungura Museve is densely TrapSu compared to his previous projects, where he packaged TrapSu with other genres such as AfroPop to accommodate newer audiences. On Sungura Museve he dared to deliver a solid 14-track TrapSungura project. Based on the online reception and feedback the project received, it is clear, that the dare paid off. "Sungura and Museve are both local sounds, they are both sounds characterized by guitar instruments, and they are more the same. For me, Alick Macheso represents Sungura and Leonard Dembo represents Museve" added the TrapSu Don on his definitions and contrast of Sungura and Museve.

A Conversation With Tanto Wavie

Shedding light on how the only feature on the album happened with Denimwoods, the Chitown trapper said, "We started talking on Instagram and he said, if l had anything l wanted him to jump on, l would hit him up anytime. I produced a beat and put a chorus on it and sent him, that’s how we got working." Asked about his ultimate mission with Sungura Museve he expressed, "I took this as an opportunity to introduce TrapSu, which really shows what I am trying to achieve with this music. When I made this album I wanted to put Sungura on a pedestal. I feel like the youth in this country don’t give Sungura enough credit it deserves. This was me trying to show these youths that Sungura and Museve are the initial sounds that are indigenous to us and are our heritage."

"I had concluded the project and thought, the album needs a track titled Takura so, I woke up one morning and decided to record. It was more of a song to reflect on life and dreams" chuckled Tanto. With such an extensive catalogue to pick from, Tanto recommended first-time listeners of TrapSu to listen to his tracks; John Chibadura, Magaroziva, and Mudhipisi.

Tanto said the only two artists he would love to work with currently are Zimbabwean Sungura legend Alick Macheso and American trapper Travis Scott. On the issue of a sustainable music industry in Zimbabwe, Tanto commented, "That's a big issue to tackle but I believe artists can control this narrative, it all starts with the musical product. If artists release great and quality products hopefully it will attract a bigger following and more income."

"Expect more albums, singles and visuals. We are working on a documentary to document the journey of the TrapSu movement. All things equal l would love to shoot music videos for all 14 tracks."

The conversation with Tanto Wavie was adjacent to genius and memorable. Every time he releases a project there are always sentiments that he has more to offer. A soft-spoken genius, allow yourself to experience the TrapSu effect on your best headsets or speakers.

Stream Tanto Wavie's latest offering on Apple Music and Spotify.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Production Credits

Editor: Tafadzwa Gerald Muchandiona

Creative Direction and Photography: Travolta of Virgorous Youth

Gerald Muchandiona

twitterinstagram How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement - no matter how temporary - Craig Thompson


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