Grammy award winner DJ Khaled, who bet his kingdom on connections, had no trouble adapting to the era where one knows that the amount of noise you are able to make online determines how much success you have on charts.
DJ Khaled’s observation seems to have inspired local Zimdancehall producer Roger Tafadzwa Kadzimwe, more popularly known as DJ Levels of ChillSpot Records, who has become “louder, larger than his beats”.
For a decade or so since the Zimdancehall music genre was born, it has mostly been consumed locally, but Levels now wants to “go louder” by exporting the genre to other countries.
At most, Zimdancehall is being played across the Limpopo River in South Africa and also by the Zimbabwean diaspora.
This shows the market for the genre exists out there, where it can flourish and appeal to a wider audience.
This is becoming a reality after Levels inked a lucrative deal with Tapiwa “Chippy” Chipembere of Scarfmore Recordz, a newly launched recording stable aimed at empowering youths from identifying talent to employment.
According to the deal, Chipembere, who has a rich purse, will promote Zimdancehall beyond the borders, while in the same breath exposing more talented youths to music.
Part of the deal is to take Levels and his team for talent scouting around the country.
Added to this, ChillSpot Records will tour countries like Zambia, Malawi, Turkey and Jamaica so that the Zimdancehall brand goes international.
In an interview with The Herald Arts, Levels was optimistic that the long-awaited dream of taking the Zimdancehall genre to the world was finally being realised.
“Recently, I was in Zambia where I worked with some of the amazing big names that include Mampi (of the Walilowelela fame),” he said.
“I also did a collaboration with Zambia’s Peter San, another artiste called Cactus, FK and Ras Cartel.
“This was aimed at making sure we increase the appeal and reach of Zimdancehall by including audiences in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia is so close to Zimbabwe and we can leverage on the proximity to share music as well as culture.”
From Zambia, Levels heads to Malawi then Turkey this month and finally Jamaica, the cradle of reggae-dancehall music, next month.
“Zambia has a slightly bigger population than ours, so if you look at the countries they will create a bigger market for our music,” he said.
The 32-year-old versatile producer remained adamant that Zimdancehall was the sound of the future.
“The question of longevity has been asked so many times since Zimdancehall started,” he said.
“Well, the answer is that Zimdancehall is here to stay. It has been a decade or so since we started out, but until now Zimdancehall is growing steadily.
“It is growing strong and it is a God-given genre which we should cherish and nurture.”
But for this to be realised, Levels said there was need for artistes to collaborate on so many areas.
“The first start is for artistes to unite for a purpose,” he said.
“This means they need to start working in synergies or collaborations. They need to share knowledge, information and anything to do with music business.
“Secondly, while competition is good, they also need to see each other as colleagues and not enemies or rivals. Thirdly, jealous should not be part of growth because no one knows everything or has everything.
“We are all different in our own ways and it is that difference that can make or break the music growth. So, supporting each other should be instilled among artistes and only that way will Zimdancehall grow.”
Levels said the desire was to be “all on the record, dancing”.
He loved making beats and experimenting with sounds, therefore he chose to be a music producer, he said.
“Call me producer-artiste,” he said.
“I fell in love with making sounds and beats and from then on I worked very hard to get somewhere with music.”
Levels has not only excelled in Zimdancehall, but also in other genres such as traditional Jiti, when he produced for Enzo Ishall’s “Mama”, rhythm and blues for Herman’s “Zvandofarira” where he displayed the wide range of his sound.