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USA-based Zimbabwean star to put Afro-pop on the map

by Caden Traw
19 Jun 2023 at 06:53hrs | Views
Musician MUNYAA (Munya Mambira) produces Afro-pop, but more specifically Amapiano music. (Daily Emerald/Kemper Flood)
Born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 21-year-old singer/songwriter MUNYAA (Munya Mambira) is here to put Afro-pop on the map.

After just three years of living here, he's already leaving his mark.

"Afro-pop? I brought that to Eugene," MUNYAA said with unapologetic confidence.

Despite having been involved in music professionally since the age of 10, he released his first single just last year called "moyongcwele (ft. 2 Yung)."

This single shows a remarkable amount of maturity, both production-wise and melodically.

Densely textured with groovy bass lines, pulsing drum beats and soothing guitars on top of MUNYAA's silky-smooth vocal melodies combine for a relaxing listen.

On top of MUNYAA's natural ability to pen lyrics and a melody, he can also be credited as a co-producer for the track.

The African sounds are evident in his stylistic choices.

He created the rough draft of the beat on his own, contributing the live guitars and drum beats that you can hear in the song.

He then sends the beat to a producer in Zimbabwe named Marshall Bryant, a.k.a Magic.

For almost all of his life, MUNYAA knew that music was his calling. He grew up in a musical family, with both of his parents being musicians.

In particular, his father played a massive role in inspiring him to become a professional musician.

"My dad was in a band called Bongo Love that traveled the world to play music," MUNYAA said.

"He played percussion, other African instruments and he was also the lead singer of the band."

MUNYAA is not just an Afro-pop artist, however. Since he has been making music for nearly half of his life, he has had time to explore other genres of music.

Growing up in Bulawayo, he initially made hip-hop music, while later transferring his styles to Afro-pop and Amapiano, which is a subgenre of South African house music.

Part of the reason for that switch came when he moved to the United States.

Hip-hop has been a mainstay here in the United States, and MUNYAA recognizes how difficult it is to make it to the top in that genre.

"There's Kendrick Lamar, bro," MUNYAA said.

"I didn't feel the same, you know? To really connect with roots, switching to Amapiano music when I moved to the U.S. just felt right to me."

MUNYAA has proven through his music that he is capable of writing an immediately catchy song — but what else about him makes him so exciting?

One thing that is obvious to the ears upon hearing "moyongcwele" is that the song is not in English.

MUNYAA sings in the Ndebele and Zulu languages, two of the 16 official languages of Zimbabwe.

Something that comes with songwriting in that language (at least in the United States) is that the majority of the people you perform to will not understand what you're singing about.

Enter dance! MUNYAA is a captivating performer, and not only because of his musical abilities.

"A big reason why I dance when I perform is to keep the audience's eyes on me," MUNYAA said.

"I don't always sing in English which can make my music hard to understand, so dance for me is a way to keep the audience engaged with my music."

A primary message that MUNYAA wants to convey with his music is simply to have fun. "It's refreshing, you know? It's the music for people who like to have fun, and for champions, too," MUNYAA said about his music.

It is clear through MUNYAA's mindset that he has high aspirations.

His music is a must-listen for those who want to hear new styles of music in Eugene.

In his sophisticated production choices matched with instantly memorable choruses and melodies, he is destined for greatness, both locally in Eugene and worldwide.

"I just wanna be everywhere, bro. Everywhere. I make music for the world."

Future releases will be announced on his Instagram account, @munya_mambira___official.

Source - Daily Emerald