In the music video of Locker Mastreets — probably one of his few songs containing “clean” lyrics — dancehall chanter Silent Killer paints a vivid picture of how his normal day goes by.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
In the three-minute video shot by Slimdoggz Entertainment, the chanter — whose rise has been as meteoric as that of a charismatic prophet offering “miracle money” — is seen in the midst of a youthful crowd smoking and apparently sipping intoxicants.
It felt like entering the set of the video shoot on Wednesday afternoon when The Standard Style crew drove into his “Vietnam Empire”, a sitting area where a gigantic portrayal of his face and that of his close friend Ras Lalo are painted on the wall with the famed reggae colours: red, green and gold.
An emblem with two guns and a pirate skeleton is also etched on the side Silent Killer is seated like an emperor among a handful of peers in the capital’s oldest suburb of Mbare.
Born Jimmy Mudereri, the 26-year-old artist is famed for his controversial lyrics and freestyle prowess, which has seen him attracting significant attention on social media and more recently at live shows.
“I am someone who believes that I do not have any limitations in my music and I have no restraints of what is acceptable or not,” he said while taking a huge pull from his cigarette.
“I can use my creativity to create a gospel song or vulgar lyrics but in a subtle form, so I have no boundaries since I can package my message to suit my audience.”
While airplay tops the bucket list for most artists, it is not the main priority for Silent Killer.
“When I started singing, I never did it to be played on air, but still radio plays my music. Most of the songs that I create with such vulgur language are meant for the streets.”
He, however, insisted that he has some clean songs and while he “worries sometimes” about where some of his “raw lyrics” are played, he said the responsibility lies with the person playing them to know which ones suits which target audience.
Raised in Mbare, his career dates back to 2006 when he was 15 while doing Form 2 at Harare High School where he would sing alongside gospel chanter Terminator.
In 2007, he finally got a chance to record his debut single titled Saga Redhobhu (Bag of Weed) at now established South Africa-based producer GT Beatz’s studio.
“Since the first day I started singing, I have dedicated my life to music because when I was young I had a dream to entertain through music.”
Silent Killer recounted how his parents tried to encourage him to focus on academics.
“They wanted me to continue pursuing school and different academic courses but I saw that my future was in music no matter how hard it is and even if it took quite a long time before I got recognition. I am into music full-time.”
He comes from a place where a countless number of artists have emerged, but something is unique about Silent Killer and that is his ability to freestyle about anything anytime.
“I just look to the sky and start flowing, that is how I do freestyles. It is like guess work, such that if you make me listen to some freestyles I will be surprised of what I would have sang about,” he explained his melodic acumen boasting of a “high IQ”.
The self-styled “Angel of War or Ngirozi Yehondo” has great confidence in his art and believes he is the best his generation will ever see.
“I believe that on earth there is no one who can beat me in a lyrical war and in Zimbabwe I am number one, that’s the reason why I gave myself that title,” he declares with so much certainty.
With his star fast-rising, the Birwai singer said his followers had heard nothing yet as he prepares to unleash more content onto the market.
“I am continuously polishing my art and I am still learning. I believe so far you have listened to 5% from me. Expect big songs and international collaborations taking Zimdancehall to the next level from where it is right now,” he said.
True to his tag line “handichawanika pa many more” [I’m no longer classified under many more on posters], his name and face now frequent posters for big gigs as his fan base keeps growing.
But, the fame has hardly translated into much economic value and Silent Killer has called on promoters to help artists grow by paying dues.
“Speaking on behalf of musicians on my level or below, you will find that when international artists come, we just wake up on posters and we end up going to perform because that is where we will be expecting to set the bar high and prove our stock,” he said.
“We also want to be given our money, just like other artistes because we come from the ghetto and where we come from, we expect to get a life off our work.
“As it is, I cannot make a video for $500 because I cannot afford it, but my music is now on that level and for me to take it to the international level, I need to produce such work.”
He also bemoaned the absence of the Zimdancehall Awards this year. He said the awards were a great encouragement for artists like him aiming to make it in the cut-throat industry.
Talent, focus and prayer apparently keeps Silent Killer afloat and he had some words of advice to novices in music.
“Youngsters should take art seriously by knowing why they are in music. It is hard but it needs commitment for one to make it because there is no upliftment; one’s efforts can get them far,” he said.
“When you are beginning, there is no need for disses but aim to correct mistakes made by those you idolise and when your time comes, no one can stop you.”