Zimbabwe hip-hop’s First Lady records “Prayer for Somalia”

By Kenneth Matimaire – ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s hip-hop First Lady, Black Bird has voluntarily taken up a humanitarian role by using her music to spearhead a fundraising campaign for the hunger stricken Somalis.

Black Bird performs with a live band at the 2011 HIFA

Black Bird performs with a live band at the 2011 HIFA

At a time when most hip-hop artists are more concerned with the negative aspects of the culture such as beefing and gang banging, Black Bird focused on the positive elements of the genre.

She took advantage of her venomous spit to record a single titled “Prayer for Somalia” as a way of raising awareness about the crisis in Somalia through music.

The single will also be used to drum up support for a compilation project called “Hustle 4The Horn,” where she will team up with other African artists on a tour to raise funds for Somalia. The proceeds will be channelled into the coffers of a humanitarian organisation called Horn Relief, which is giving aid to the East African country.

The organisation is dedicated to creating sustainable peace and development in Somalia through grassroots capacity building, developing youth leadership, empowerment of women, and protection of the environment.

For an artist whose influence came from hip hop greats and dopest lyrists such as Nas, Common Sense, Talib Kweli, and MC Lyte just to mention a few, surely “Prayer For Somalia” doesn’t come as a surprise.

The touching song is meant to make the average person understand how devastating the famine in the Horn of Africa is. It is a direct plea to the Africa continent on the need to raise funds for the disadvantaged Somalis.

The single was produced by a young but talented sound-master called Tatenda ‘Klasiq’ Chideme. He is part of a label called Global Records in Marlbareign, Harare.  Kenyan based, Ethiopian poetess Nebila Abdulmelik, also wrote some lines which were incorporated to make up the highly conscious single.

Black Bird

Black Bird

The inspirational single will be officially released soon, though it is already available online. It will feature on her follow up (second) album titled “Black Excellence,” expected to be in stores by end of November, this year.

Emotions got the best of the proud mother of two when it was announced that approximately 30 000 children under the age of five had lost their lives from hunger in Somalia.

She said after the news broke out, she quickly thought of her two little daughters Minana and Nia, and knew she had to do something. Alas, it came in the form of an emotional and inspirational track – “Prayer for Somalia.”

“I have two children, one is 5 and the other is 3 and a half. It breaks my heart to think the majority of those dying are under the age of five,’ she lamented.

In relation to the song, the passionate female MC is optimistic that the single will make a difference and act as a wake up call to the entire continent.

Black Bird says, “I hope this song will encourage the public to donate whatever they can towards organisations working in Somalia and assist in giving families food, water and other basics.

“I also hope the song might get the attention of Africans in positions of power especially those in governments, NGOs and the corporate world because they have the power and resources to become more involved in solving the emergency crisis that is being faced in the horn of Africa.”

The Zimbabwean dopest female rapper went on to say, “I am also putting together a fundraising compilation called “Hustle 4The Horn” which will be marketed during a tour with other African artists (and hopefully one or two international musicians). We are currently looking for companies that would like to be involved in sponsoring this much needed project and all those who want to make a difference.”

With such a drive and desire to change the world, Black Bird has shown some of the positive elements of hip-hop being put to good use.

Might it be because of her past? Her struggle growing up that inspired her to use her undisputed lyrical prowess to make a difference?

Just like the starving children in Somalia, Black Bird was not spared from the same kind of fate (growing up) following the death of her mother in 1995. Of all the places she could ever imagine, she found herself trapped in an orphanage – Harare Children’s Home for two

Not to mention her hustle to play mother and father to her two beautiful daughters and satisfying her lyrically starved fans. Surely it requires someone with a “strong” personality and upbringing, in every aspect of the word.

If you combine such a humble background and the positive elements of hip-hop, Black Bird is what you find; the African lioness eager to protect its pride even as far as Somalia.

Born Nonkululeko Vundla in 1983, BB is the dominant Zimbabwean female hip-hop artist. She is the first female MC ever to release an album – “Tha Rappetizer,” released in October, last year. BB has directly or indirectly inspired other female rappers to surface soon after the
successful launch of her debut.

Her international flair won her the prestigious honour of becoming the first female hip-hop artist to be invited to perform at the 2011 Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). United Kingdom based leading news broadcaster BBC once featured her on their website and
radio program.

She completed her high school in Sandton before studying film-making and broadcasting at Allenby Campus in Bramely, Johannesburg. Black Bird has worked at various South African and Zimbabwean recording studios as both a studio manager and as a recording artist including as a voice-over and scriptwriter for radio adverts and radio station jingles). Some of the artists she has done collaborations with include: legendary guitarist Andy Brown; Zimbabwean rappers Outspoken and Upmost from the duo Dialectric Blue.

The South African hip hop artists she has worked with include producer Hoodlum, Metaphor, Baleloko producer Shem. The versatile rapper used to perform as part of the Hip Hop Intellectuals during 2008 with well respected SA rappers Reason, Rashid, Hoodlum, Mathematix, K-Method and The Renegade.

After working at M-Net as producer, writer and director for a short film called “In The Bedroom” in 2002, she went on to work at Channel O as a writer and website editor for the music channel’s official website for most of 2008.

Besides her second project, she is also set to release a free mixtape called “Mixtape Memoirs,” which will be available for free downloads on the internet.