Simukai “Abra Simzz” Mandizvidza is one person who can justifiably lay claim to the title “Man with the Midas touch”.
Bursting on the scene with the track “Rise up Zimbabwe” with Jamaican dancehall artiste Red Rat, Abra Simzz has since established himself as a
hitmaker whose chart-toppers include “Born Champions” with Winky D, Jusa Dementor, Metaphysics and Nigeria’s General Pype.
Not only that. He also had a hand in “Sele Mama” which features Stunner and Roby Gee and recently crashed into the top 10 on Channel O dancehall charts.
Simzz was also part of the award-winning “African Air-horn Dance” done for the 2010 World Cup 2012 in South Africa. The video won Best Reggae African Video at the Independent Film and Music Festival in the US and earned his cousin, Jusa Dementor, the Best Southern African Dancehall Artiste gong at the African Music Awards in 2010.
Last year Simzz also produced the official Zimbabwe Olympic song. After living in the United States for close to a decade the famed producer is now a presenter at Zi-FM where he presents the 12 midnight-3am for the Graveyard shift.
Away from the studio he is also actively involved in youth programmes with the aim of uplifting the young in line with the anthemic ”Rise Up Zimbabwe”.
Arts Correspondent Tawanda Ngena (TN) spoke to the 27-year-old (AS) at length on his personal life, musical exploits and future projects. Excerpts:
AS: I was born in Harare, on October 14, 1985 and attended Ariel Primary School and Prince Edward High School briefly before I left for the States where I enrolled at Chaffey High School (from 1999 to 2003) and Riverside College (from 2005 to 2009).
TN: How did you get the name Abra Simzz?
AS: I used to be known as “Babysimzz” because I was the youngest among my peers not too far from “Beenie Man”, which also means little man. I got the name Abra Simzz from Red Rat who told me that it was time for a revolution and I am no longer a baby within the industry. The name is straightforward, Abra is the company name and Simzz is me, Simukai. Abra fans have adapted the same concept as well as the artistes.
TN: Away from producing, what else has been keeping you busy?
AS: Right now my main focus is on Zi-FM where I am a radio personality. I’m also into uplifting the youth through various programmes.
TN: Can you give the readers an insight into Abra Tribe?
AS: Abra Tribe (which stands for African Bred Recording Artistes) is a multimedia company formed in 1999 by my cousin Jusa Dementor. It was originally called African Bred Ragga Artistes before we changed it to African Bred Recording Artistes in order to have a broader appeal. Abra tribe has no physical location or boundaries as such because no matter where we are, we’re just one big family. We work with artistes from all over the world.
TN: Any new artistes to look out for from your label?
AS: We have a few artistes we are developing who are signed on. They are Tytan, Josmas, Nick Cavali, and we are looking at taking on quite a few more artistes and keen to build their brand.
TN: What do you think should be done to assist upcoming artistes?
AS: I believe DJs are partly to blame because we have played the same artistes and labels for too long and the more international music we play the more we continue to choke the development of our own artistes.
Club DJs should do more work in researching and finding more local club tracks and radio DJs have to create a platform for upcoming talent to grow. I have a segment on my show called Artiste on the Ri7e, which focuses on the upcoming artistes whom we review in order to assist and mentor on how to build their brand.
TN: Who is your favourite musician and why?
AS: I would have to say Red Rat since he was my idol growing up. From the chance of working with him to calling him a friend, it has all been a dream come true for me. He has been a mentor to me music-wise as well as life in general.
TN: What was your most memorable moment in 2012?
AS: We released a project called “Purple Hayzz” riddim, in collaboration with Island life Records which included the likes of Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Kiprich, Taranchyala, Patexx, etc. It was a huge success in Jamaica. It was released in July 2012 along with the Zim Olympic track that featured upcoming artistes Tytan, Pauline, Jusa Dementor and Tererai Mugwadi.
TN: Having worked with various artistes around the world, who did you enjoy working with the most and why?
AS: Beenie Man was a joy mainly because he is the king of dancehall but honestly nothing brings me more joy than making hit tracks with Zimbabwe artistes, as we did with Winky D, Shinso Man and Russo and many others.
TN: From producer to radio personality, what is next for Abra Simzz?
AS: Businessperson. It is already in my blood. My dad is a successful businessman abroad and I went to school for it. I’m now working with Tinashe Chuma, my cousin, who is also back in the country and Zandile Ndlovu. We are looking forward to changing things from a business perspective.
TN: What are your plans for 2013?
AS: In 2013, we want to implement a movement called RIZE (Revolutionary Independent Zimbabwe Entrepreneurs) which is a bridge between entertainment and business. Such a bridge is necessary is we are to take the local entertainment industry to new heights through promoting self-belief, unity and creative entrepreneurship. I believe that it is time to revolutionise this industry.
Source: The Herald