One of the most outstanding figures in Hip Hop right now, Tehn is no stranger to the African music scene especially after that amazing performance at the Big Brother eviction party. Always wearing a smile, this is one of the happiest persons you will ever come across in the motherland. As part of the super group Few Kings, they are currently changing the Hip Hop face in Zimbabwe at Africa at large. We sought to bring you up, close and candid with the Happy Smurf. Read on….
No need for introduction Tehn, but for how long have you been doing this?
That’s tricky. I’ve been rapping since 2006, but when I can say I actually entered the rap game would have to be 2008 . . . when I released my mixtape #SOTG1: Higher Learning.
You’ve definitely been around. Why music though?
I always knew I’d be a part of the music industry in some capacity, or rather, from as early as 6 years old singing along to Jackson 5 records I knew that music was gonna be a pivotal part of my life. When I look at my entire time at school, I can’t really imagine where else I could have ended up. It’s always been about the music with me.
It seems music to you was inevitable, which reminds me, do you play any instruments?
No I don’t. As much as I loved music, I never had the discipline to stick with an instrument as a kid. Words were always my tool of choice, in fact my professional passion begun with songwriting. I never felt I was a good enough singer to actually be a singer, and at the time I wasn’t even rapping . . . I just wanted to be a songwriter . . . and act . . . that was how I saw my way on stage. Of course the Universe had it’s own plans. I’m committing myself to learning how to play Mbira in 2014 though, not so much for my career . . . but for my soul. That instrument speaks deeply to me.
Hope we will be there to watch you play it. Do you feel you have brought something new to the industry Tehn?
I honestly believe there’s really nothing new under the sun. It’s all been said or done before in one way or another . . . the only even remotely original contribution any of us can hope to offer the world is ourselves. Even then we’re influenced by so much, but I try to bring my honest truth . . . my personal view of the worlds both within and without me.
That’s being real, so how did you come up with your style?
I think I’m still coming up with my style. When I listen to my music I see and feel so much versatility. I love messing with my voice and just really using it to bring out as much expressiveness as possible . . . but I also just love playing with the texture and feel of words so much, that I never have a set style . . . I bend and battle with the beats I’m on. I just try to find my place to be on each track. My style ? Just frivolous flows and honesty, under constant construction.
And that has clearly evolved over time, how do you think your music has changed?
I think I’ve learnt not to worry so much about what other people are gonna think of what I write. I used to be really hung up on really rapping in a way that people knew and believed that I could really actually rap . . . and listening back, I can pick out the moments where I may have been trying too hard. With time I’ve learnt to just sit back, relax and express myself on wax freely. On a “mind like water” tip. I’ve just let myself let go a lot more.
Randomly, can we find any embarrassing music on your MP3 player?
I’m not embarrassed by anything on my MP3 player. I’m a lover of sounds yo. Also, I don’t keep a whole lot of music on my devices. I’m very picky about what I listen to and I also just don’t like having a whole chunk of music on there that I don’t really listen to. I love full albums that I can just vibe with. So you’ll find nothing but the goodness. I did music an O’Level, so I’ve got a whole lotta love for a whole lotta different sounds.
Being a picky listener, what genre of music can’t you stand to listen to?
I can’t stand the dancehall mixes with the DJ screaming on the cut and pulling it back every 20 seconds. I can’t deal.
Hahaa, that seems to be the fade all over. Anyway, how do you view the scene in Zimbabwe right now?
With a whole lot of excitement. There’s so much happening in our media space that stands poised to make some much needed in the music industry as a whole. But only if we take advantage of it all. The airwaves are gonna be opening up more, which is only a good . . . and I hear we’re gonna have a whole host of new TV stations . . . so in my mind, I’m thinking that the good people of Zimbabwe are finally gonna be able to put some faces to the names they hear on radio. We’re going through a potential renaissance period, I see nothing but growth & opportunity.
That is the type of news we love to get. Can we talk about all these belief about the industry being controlled by dark forces, your comment on that?
All that mess annoys me. Music is a beautiful gift, one of many reasons why life is actually worth living. The forces that surround some parts, or rather some hearts, in the entertainment scene are the same ones that poison other industries/sectors/scenes . . . GREED,JEALOUSY & HATE.
Insightful! Everybody wanna reach the top, what would you say dictates who gets to there?
Persistence, above all else. Talent is in all of us. But I think persistence is what truly sets apart the great from the good. Of course there’s other key factors like organisation, discipline, vision & teamwork . . . but if you don’t have what it takes to keep going when the going gets tough, you’ll never reach greatness.
Word to the up and coming artists, take notes everyone. Who would Tehn wanna collaborate with currently?
Burna Boy. Right now, that’s my favourite artist on the continent.
He recently performed in Kenya, if we had known maybe we would have passed the word over to him lol. Talking about performances, which has been your memorable so far?
Performing on The Coca-Cola Green at The Harare International Festival Of The Arts this year, alongside my brothers Take Fizzo & Jnr Brown . . . hands down the most memorable live experience I’ve had. And it was memorable for reasons on and off the stage, a lot of work went into preparing for that show . . . and a whole lot more work into actually pulling it off successfully.
Music aside, what hidden talents do you have?
I make incredible smoothies.
Health-conscious ladies better take note of that. Which reminds me, can Tehn date a fellow celebrity?
Yes, and her name is Boity.
Boitumelo is FIIINE!!! Hahaa, let’s not get carried away though. Which African state has the hottest lasses?
Where is your favorite chill spot in Africa?
My mother’s land . . . Zambia.
Ever done something crazy and got busted by your fans?
Yep. At HIFA I bumped into these kids who were dressed like kids do these days . . . skinny jeans . . . bright colours and what not . . . I proceeded to challenge them to a crazy drunken master dance-off . . . needless to say, I won . . . but it took some fairly wild next level move to pull it off. A number of my fans spotted me in the act. Priceless.
I wish that could have been recorded for a rewatch lol. By the way, what do you really wish for Africa.
That we realise our full potential to feed ourselves, to enrich ourselves & above all else love ourselves.
Career-wise, what will be your icing on the cake?
I dunno. I think, more than anything I’d love to be worth of a Grammy . . . I promised Take Fizzo I’d get him one and I don’t like the idea of never keeping that one.
We hope you reach those pinnacles Tehn, Africa is very proud of you. Can we just end this with a shout out?
Shout-out to The Smurfs
Website : IamTehn