The Art of Sampling and Zimbabwean Music: A look at some of our favorite urban music samples

There has been recent controversy between Jah Signal and the Charambas that has brought the art of sampling into the spotlight. The Zimdancehall artist sampled the Charambas' gospel hit "Kana Vanhu Vangu" on his own hit song "Sweetie". The track was stricken from YouTube after it had amassed over 6 million views. This came after the Charambas had noticed that he had sampled yet another one of their songs without permission.

Jah Signal is however not the only one to have sampled the Charambas. In 2014 King Shaddy & Dr Clarence with the help of the Makorokoza choir gave new life to Charles Charamba & the Fishers of Men's 1999 hit "Machira Chete". The gospel song was reimagined as a hilarious tale of two men who pick up two women of ill repute and find their house ransacked the next morning, with the women gone.

While Zimbabwean music wouldn't be defined as having a sampling culture, there have been more than enough records borrowed from the past. Sampling gives new life to old melodies and it also serves as an appreciation of the artists that came before.

So what is sampling? In short, it is the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sound effects or longer portions of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. The most prominent example of sampling right now would be Burna Boy's "Last Last". The African Giant sampled Toni Braxton's "He Wasn't Man Enough" released in the year 2000.


Locally no one has perfected the art of sampling quite like Takura. Throughout the multi-genre artist's discography, he has borrowed from previous works by Zimbabwean artists and reimagined the music with beautiful results. His latest project "King of Hearts" is another testament of his craft in that arena. The artist reimagined Oliver Mtukudzi's famous hit "Hazvireve Rudo Handina".

To showcase how good Takura is at reimagining music, here is a short list of some of his samples we've taken notice of:

Takura - Kutaura Newe

Takura sampled Tevin Campbell’s 1993 hit titled “Can We Talk”. Kutaura Newe is the literal Shona translation for “Can we talk”. Takura translated the Tevin’s chorus into shona giving the 1993 classic a new pair of legs. 

Takura - My lover ft Laylizzy 

Takura sampled the melodies of Fortune Maparutsa’s “Wangu Ndega”. A 1990s hit by the R&B singer which was brought back to life in 2020 when Takura collaborated with Mozambican rapper Laylizzy. 

Takura - Who You Are 

Takura here sampled Urban Grooves Legend Leonard Mapfumo’s 2 Chete on his latest offering on Star Signs. A representation of how Takura’s artistic expression is influenced by older melodies which he executes perfectly. 

Takura - Push To Start

Takura here borrowed mainly from Simon "Choppa" Chimbetu's "Pane Asipo" and also in part from Oliver Mtukudzi's "Handiende". The recognisable words from some of Zimbabwe's old favourites, gave Takura's track a familiarity that made it endearing.

While a shadow has been cast over the art of using samples by recent copyright strikes, it is definitely something widely appreciated. By not only music fans but also artists that came before and had their works reimagined.

"I have always loved Takura's  music, his creativity and production. I have to say his new project is a beautiful body of work and my favorite is "Who you are". I am biased over this track because he gave a new lease of life to the 10 year old "2 Chete" melody. I wish more new school artists could sample more of Zimbabwean music." - Leonard Mapfumo

When SoProfound aired the Chamhembe Story, while telling his story legendary producer Take 5 (Take Fizzo) believed that for Zimbabwe to establish its sound and make commercially viable music there was a need for younger artists to sample older Zimbabwean music.

However, while sampling is the key to not only hitmaking but also creating a recognizable sound as a country/region, it has to be done right. Samples have to be cleared by the copyright holders of the music or else you could end up facing lawsuits or copyright strikes in the case of Jah Signal. ZIMURA (Zimbabwe Music Rights Association) is there for those who are not sure how to go about it.

Here is a list of some of our favourite samples in urban Zimbabwean music:

Chiuyaka x Leonard Mapfumo ft Pauline Gundidza, Maskiri

On his album NaMapfumo, Mapfumo, Pauline & Maskiri reimagined Leonard Zhakata's 1999 hit song "Chiuyaka" from his famous album Pakuyambuka. The Sungura classic was given an Urban Grooves twist that was instantly loved.

Rugare x Holy Ten & Michael Magz ft Blueyita

For the chorus of one of the standout songs on The New Bhundu Boyz album, Holy Ten & Michael Magz borrowed from Mafriq's famous Urban Grooves track "Chizevezeve". Voiced by Blueyita, the chorus on "Rugare" gave new life to an almost two-decades-old melody.

Thankful x R Peels ft Nutty O

On the track "Thankful" from the Muchinjiko album, R. Peels sampled Major E’s vocals. Major E was one of the pioneering Reggae acts in Zimbabwe in the 1990s. R. Peels sampled Major E’s vocals from Innocent Utsiwegota’s “In My Dreams” which was a monster hit in the 2000s on Radio 3 now Power FM.

Mafuta x Lamont Chitepo ft Tytan, Sulumani Chimbetu 

Lamont Chitepo released this afro-pop track in 2022 it is infused with the Dendera guitar and is the reimagination of the classic song "Dzandipedza Mafuta" by the late icon Simon Chimbetu. Sulumani, who's the son of the late icon, gives a heartfelt performance on the chorus that brings vivid memories of the original song.

Takura - My lover ft Laylizzy 

Takura sampled the melodies of Fortune Maparutsa’s “Wangu Ndega”. A 1990s hit by the Rhythm and Blew singer which was brought back to life in 2020 when Takura collaborated with fellow Mozambican rapper Laylizzy. Takura has clearly mastered the art of sampling.

Darrel - Easy

The young Zimbabwean crooner sampled the Urban Groove twins Roy and Royce’s "Tenda" hit for his Easy track. Breathing new life into the 2003 song 17 years later, he introduced Roy and Royce to a new audience through sampling. The song instantly became a fan favourite with the older generation who had been acclimatized to Roy and Royce's music.

Hazvireve Rudo Handina x Takura

On his most recent album King of Hearts, Takura added his own twist to Oliver Mtukudzi's 2005 hit "Hazvireve". While not quite the traditional sample, Takura borrowed a phrase from the chorus with a slight change to the melody. The song was however instantly recognisable as a fruit from Tuku's tree.

Mughetto x Ishan

Ishan borrowed from the legendary Cde Chinx - Dick Chingaira Makoni’s popular chorus “Iyo iyo hondo yakura muZimbabwe” from 2002 politically charged hit song “Hondo yeminda”. Mughetto was one of the outstanding tracks from Ishan's debut EP Bhundu Pop: Sounds from the Jungle.

Editorial Note: Some of the Zimbabwean songs mentioned above are not cases of direct sampling, i.e incorporating someone else’s audio recording, but interpolating. Interpolation, sometimes called a replayed sample is when you utilse portions of a melody from an old song but you record your own audio. It often involves some rewriting of the lyrics. The difference between interpolation and direct sampling is important when it comes to copyrights.

What are some of your favourite urban music samples? Please let us know in the comments 

If you're a fan of Sungura music, you can check Sungura Central's thread on samples in the genre from yesteryears below:

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