“A Toast to Frame and Ro”, the first track on the brand new Chimurengra Renaissance full-length digital demo – PUNGWE – features the twin voices of Shabazz Palaces intertwined. Palaceer Lazaro spits hard on this track, rolling over the mbira beats of his partner Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire. But the real surprise is Tendai’s own rapping on the track. Chimurenga Renaissance is his new project, and he comes out the gate hard. Rapping about the street-level struggles of everyday hustlers, he brings a new sound to Chimurenga Renaissance. With deep taproots in African soil, this group casts a shadow across the American hip-hop landscape, calling out those who’ve forgotten their own roots in the process of making a buck.
Fly guy Dai is the heart of Chimurenga Renaissance, rapping over beats informed both by his upbringing on the once-mean streets of South Seattle and his family’s rich heritage of Zimbabwean Shona music. One-half of hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, where he goes by the title Baba Maraire, his music is the new sound of the Maraire family. Chimurenga Renaissance is a personal journey, chronicling Maraire’s lifetime of music, rapping on the streets before he met Ishmael Butler, his rise as the voice of a new movement in hip-hop, his marriage and family troubles, and the daily grinding hustle that comes with any promising career in hip-hop. His music sounds different because it is different. Few other musicians can claim such fluency in three traditions: African roots music, hip-hop, and American popular music.
I am black man. I am not of this land, but I am this land.
Hear the black man. The beats beacon our song, the streets beckon our dance.
Hail the black man. Although you steal from me, I create anew.
Know the black man: Gun-beats were my nursery rhymes; nylon strings my solace.
I am black man. My happiness exists, even if you won’t see it.