The Republic of Zambia, one of Africa’s landlocked countries in the southern hemisphere of the continent is experiencing a Hip Hop wave in its music industry. Leading this wave is one of the country’s top Hip Hop group known as Zone Fam. In 2009 Zone Fam burst onto the African and Zambian music scene with their first mix tape which was produced by Nigerian Producer Teck-Zilla.
Duncan Sodala, Manager of the group says they have released a handful of mix tapes with their hit album ‘The Business (Foreign Exchange)’ also available on iTunes receiving good support from the Zambian Hip Hop music circles. Zone Fam is made up of four young men named: Sam Sakala aka Dope G, Jackson Banda aka Jay Rox, Reginald Mogane aka Yung Verbal and Tim Chisenga aka Thugga.
Besides their music, these young men are involved in respective fields of professional studies ranging from Information Technology, Journalism and Accounting. As two of them work their way towards graduation, the group in its entirety is focussing on developing their musical career. Zone Fam primarily define their genre to be a fusion of Hip Hop with some English and other Southern African dialects like Nyanja, Bemba, Zulu, and Tswana among others.
Their solo mixtapes that were released in 2010 propelled them into the Southern African Hip Hop music scenery and their main album; ‘The Business (Foreign Exchange)’ that featured prominent Zambian artists has gone on to be one of the best albums of 2011 in Zambia.
The group sees itself as pioneers of the new wave of Zambian Hip Hop after they were adjudged one of the Best African Group at the first ever Global African Music Awards (GAMA) that was held late last year in Malaysia and organized by Saintz & Sinnerz and King Lhota who is the CEO of African Asia Radio and TV (ARTAM). For Zone Fam, the 2013 GAMA awards presents them an opportunity to improve on their gains at the premier event and to prove to all that they have come to represent the new brand of Zambian Hip Hop music.
One of Zone Fam’s music videos called ‘Chaka Zulu on Em’ with over 50,000 hits on YouTube talks about the African pride with specific reference to the great warrior of Southern African History, Chaka Zulu.
Chaka Zulu is known to have played a very influential role in uniting the people of the Zulu Kingdom of Southern Africa. Like Chaka, Zone Fam seeks its inspiration from within when they say they inspire and motivate each other, something which accounts for why they’ve reached this far in their budding career. ‘As we were coming up, finance was difficult to come by but with the little resources we had — we stayed focussed together and did the best we could with what we had’ — they say of how far they’ve come as a group.
In July of 2012 the Zambian group signed one of its most lucrative record deals yet with Taurus Musik of Kenya. Talking about the deal, Duncan Sodala; Manager of Zone Fam said — it is the first Record Label deal of its kind on the continent — it involved the signing of several African artists from different countries. The members of the group attribute a lot of their progress also to their manager who they say has left an impressionable mark on them in relation to their career simply because he believed in them when no one did.
Most of the Zone Fam members were raised by single mothers who are still very much a part of their lives today. They are thankful to their mothers for allowing them to explore their talents in music, something they greatly appreciate everyday.
Second to their love for chicken is their passion for Hip Hop and music in general. Zone Fam says they are ‘aiming to become one of the top groups out of Africa’. As they embark on this ambitious quest, they express gratitude and appreciation to everybody that has supported them since day one; from their families, friends and even foes. ‘…they have all motivated us to be where we are right now; winning multiple awards such as the Born and Bred awards at home and the GAMA hosted in Malaysia was all made possible by our networks‘ the group says.
When I asked Zone Fam this question: ‘What do you hope to achieve in life through your music?’, their response was: ‘We want to build an Empire that will not only encompass music but also involve merchandising, advertising, management and much more‘. To those who believe in the African music and entertainment industry, I say watch out for this Zambian group who are poised to create a great change in the music world when they say this: ‘in the words of the Father of our home country — Kenneth Kaunda — The inability of those in power to still the voices of their own consciences is the great force leading to change.’
Written by Oral Ofori