ASAPH: Joining worlds through Music (plus Interview)

ASAPH: Joining worlds through Music (plus Interview)

Following the recent MTV Awards nomination and the trail of awards, Asaph is making dreams out of bars. 

Asaph is embracing his identity and heritage unapologetically, dominating radio charts, bagging awards, and making masterpiece collaborations along the way. His music is a cocktail of Ndebele, Shona, and English. It brings out a symphony of diversity by blending underlying themes from house music, native traditional sounds, and hip-hop. The lyrics are rich in experiences, observations, and lessons from an ever-evolving environment. Asaph’s personal growth and maturity in the industry are the driving factors behind his evolution. His music relates more to the struggles faced by the youth and issues affecting them, “My music has always been about my surroundings and what is affecting my generation”, Asaph says.

Recently Dubbed the King of Zim Hip Hop, Asaph is not concerned with titles. He chooses, instead, to focus on making more music, having fun, and uniting people in the process. The year 2020 was the ascension of Asaph, with collaborations that cut across different cultures, genres, and languages. His projects have been the embodiment of different sounds, perspectives, and stories. The most notable of the collaboration projects include Ginde by Crooger with TiGonzi, Gemma’s +263, alongside Nutty O and Asipheli Moya featuring Msiz’Kay.  

Photo: Asaph / Gideon Visual

Asaph started rapping at an early age(Form 3), and like any rapper, the groundwork is more extensive than the successes. His initial audience was on the other side of the pulpit most of the time. Asaph has since moved from Gospel rap to conscious hip-hop, but he still retained his base message while expanding his audience. The KingsVilla Album was the first project outside gospel and set Asaph in the space we know him in now.

Working on radio broadened his scope and appreciation for Zimbabwe music. With a couple of songs released under the group BurgBoiz formed by the rapper, Asaph’s reach influence grew in the culture. The release of the song Mambo topped charts nationally and racked him the status he has been building up to, the best version of himself. The artist’s sounds are as versatile as his open-mindedness, a balance between Friday vibes and Sunday meditation. We caught up with Asaph and this is how it went.

Vibing with Asaph: The Interview

Photo: Asaph / Gideon Visual

What is the craziest rumour you have heard about yourself?

That I was a cokehead… We were at the Zim Hip hop awards like last year December. I was lit, I won’t lie… it was just Pogues whisky and a couple of beers, but I was supercharged. I was excited too. That night I won 2 awards (I was expecting 1). I got super lit… met with Holy … he was like ” Yo bro, people were saying at the awards you were on Coke!”.

I believe your little sister is a musician as well. Experience-wise, what do you wish she could do differently?

There is not much I would want her to do differently from me … because I’m now a MAMA nominee (Chuckles). She needs to copy everything I’m doing!… The only thing I’d say, maybe, is she needs to get her own studio. Be in charge of that process so that she doesn’t have to wait and depend on producers and stuff like that. 

As a conscious rapper, how has your message evolved over the years?

I think the best way to describe how the sound has evolved is just basically how I have grown as a person. My music has always been about the surroundings, what I’m experiencing in my life, what I’m seeing others experience, and what’s affecting my generation… as I grew and started to care about things that are happening in the news, things affecting the country, and the economy, my sound changed.

Your style is in the category of teacher/conscious/preacher rap. Which artists do you look up to?

Man! In terms of artists that I look up to, it’s a pretty diverse list. Of course, I do have the guys I look up to in terms of the whole storytelling, conscious element, guys like Nas, Kendrick Lamar, South African guys like reason, and Stogie T. But I also draw a lot of inspiration in terms of just music, artistry, and hits from guys like AKA, Drake, Kanye… I try to make sure I’m as all-rounded as I can be so I can make a track like 5 street flows and a track like BTD. 

Describe Bulawayo Music in 3 words

Original, Pure and entertaining 

You’ve done collaborations with Crooger, a couple with Msizkay, Ganyaz, Gemma to name a few. And some of these are out of hip hop. What has been the most humbling project you’ve worked on?

To be honest, every collaboration kinda humbles me, just the fact that we can work on something new and bring two worlds together… The Gemma collaboration with Nutty O… was a pretty humbling experience. Working with Dj Stavo on Summer Ride was a humbling experience as well. I love just joining two worlds together and seeing what new product we can come up with. Working with Ammara Brown, Sylent Nqo and Rymez was a dope experience as well… all these projects humbled me because they showed me my potential and that I can grow to a certain level where it’s bigger than hip hop. 

Since we are a fashion magazine as well, we’ll ask you this; what’s your morning routine like?

I get up at 6:30, pray with my family, depending on what I’m doing that day… get back into bed until about 9. Get up, bath, drink a lot of water, send a couple of emails. If it’s a Friday, prepare for my show on the radio. 

On the wins, you’ve been dubbed the King of Bulawayo Hip Hop. How does that feel?

For me, it doesn’t feel any different, I’m just doing what I do… I don’t take to heart what people say about me. The only thing I take to heart is what I know about myself, what God says about me, and what my parents say about me. Those are the type of things that make me feel aware… Being called the king of whatever does not affect me. 

What is the future like for Asaph? I mean, you bagged a couple of awards, nominated for, to represent the country.

Just the consistency, of what I have been doing to get to this point. More music, more collaborations, more videos, more of the necessary moves to keep my name relevant… making the right agreements so that I can be able to represent, for Hip hop, for Bulawayo, for Zimbabwe in all the spaces that I can … with the whole MTV Africa Nomination, I’m hoping this can open me up to not only regional collaborations and work but continental collaborations and work. People should look out for bigger and better.

What would you tell her your girlfriend if she was reading this right now?

Never forget that I love her, that I think she is the most amazing, most creative, smartest, most stylish, and hard-working woman I know. And she is awesome basically… I’m blushing. 

Photo: Asaph / Gideon Visual

Jabulile Sigola
Jabulile Sigola
Jabulile Sigola is a student of art and a master of passion. Inspired by music and fashion, he pens his soul out. Psychology graduate and definitely not a mind reader.