Killer T: Mbare’s new hero
Problem Masau Arts Correspondent
If there is an artiste who has taken Zimbabwean dancehall genre by storm, then it must be Killer T.
His songs such as “Tirikumhanya”, “Makarova Gunners”, “Suspects”, “Officer Mirai Chirukazi” and “Ziso Rako Hameno”, have become popular in watering holes, public transport and hair salons.
Born Kelvin Kusikwenyu, Killer T has become a household name not only in Mbare but in other high-density suburbs. The dancehall star got his nickname from his brother who always referred to him as a “killer” of dancehall lyrics. He used to sing with his young brother Temptation and the combination became “Killer T” taking the ‘T’ from the latter’s initial.
Though he is gradually rising to the zenith, life has never been a bed of roses for the chanter. Faced with limited choices when he was orphaned at a tender age, Killer T had to use what he calls “God-given talent”, to make ends meet. He would spend most of his time listening to dancehall songs and pen a few of his own then join his “crew” at Jexious Corner in Mbare where they would mix and mingle planning to dribble out of poverty. The place is where Mbare youths socialise and when this news crew visited the place, our photographer was choked with the mbanje smoke emanating from the place.
Though Killer T has limited the time he spends on this “socialising melting pot”, he still finds time to interact with his friends and he occasionally refers to the place in his songs.
Through persistence and hard work, Killer T was recorded by producer Bryton Munyuki of Iton Music. That is when he made the hit song “Makarova Gunners” and since then he has never looked back. His signature tune, the gun sound “Po po po,” has become synonymous with ghetto youths and even rivals in the dancehall genre are forced by fans to chant the slogan once they get on stage.
The self-proclaimed Matapi Chairman has not only built his fan base in Harare as his services are now in demand in areas as far as Beitbridge. He has become a celebrity in his neighbourhood overnight and each time he strolls around, he is mobbed by children and women alike demanding the signature tune.
“Varidzirei pfuti Killer T,” his fans would shout when this news crew was driving around with him.
Mbare has embraced its hero. Women peep through the windows to see their star when he passes. Children gaze at him wishing one day they would be like him. Such is the power exerted by this 23-year-old musician.
The soft-spoken musician is also a humorous character. He claims Blessing Shumba and Mathias Mhere are his favourite musicians though he does not remember the last time he went to church. However, he usually wears a rosary that he cherishes. He even quoted lyrics from Mhere’s new song “Zino Irema” in describing his so-called “haters”. He also claims that he hates dancehall songs.
The Mbare devotee said he does not have a girlfriend but his phone kept ringing during the course of the interview, with many women interrogating his whereabouts.
But what makes the young man’s music so popular?
“I sing what I come across everyday. There are things that happen here in Mbare that are so interesting. In fact, I get inspiration from the people here. Their lifestyles, aspirations and challenges make me want to pen more songs,” he said.
He is motivated by the sight of impoverished children that he comes across everyday.
“Mbare has always been associated with evil things. They say criminals and crooks are harboured in the ghetto. What they do not know is that the ghettos have many talents. We have successful soccer players and musicians that have made it in life that were born and bred in the ghettos,” he emphasised.
He, however, acknowledged that there are criminal activities that happen in Mbare.
“These people want to pay rent. They have to do what a man has to do to survive. I condemn their activities but I do not blame them,” he highlighted.
Like most dancehall artistes, Killer T uses a backyard studio where he records his music. The studio that resembles a prison cell is where hits that have made him a household name have been produced. The musician, who is so in love with his hood, said even if makes a fortune he will find it hard to relocate to other places.
“KuMatapi ndokwangu kuZion. I will never betray my people,” he said.
The musician condemned hooligans who throw missiles on stage.
“This kills our dancehall genre which is enjoying a purple patch. I urge all youths not to stone artistes while they are on stage. I see sungura being overshadowed by dancehall in the near future,” he said.
The self-confessed non-churchgoer said he will soon be a fully fledged Christian.
“Pastor Sanyangove of Heartfelt Ministries gave me a Bible recently. I do not remember the last time I went to church but I am seriously considering it. In fact, we are going to have a pasa pasa soon called ‘Jesu Jesu’ where he will be preaching and I performing,” he said.
Killer T was born in Mbare and attended St Peter’s Primary School before going to George Stark School for his secondary education.