Synik: A Personal Journey Into Zim Hip Hop

Synik in recording studio

Meet Zim Hip Hop MC: Synik

Synik is a Zimbabwean MC who developed his craft performing in Harare’s Hip Hop, spoken word and poetry scene. He uses music as a way of connecting with people and to spark positive change. Now living in Portugal, he enjoys creating, performing and growing as an artist while trying to carve a space in this new environment.

The artist got music in his teens, “I have been a fan of Hip Hop since discovering it as a kid. In high school, I went from rapping along to the American rappers we had access to, to writing my own material. This was largely because of friends who had somehow found that we could also use the artform ourselves. I must admit that in those early stages there was a lot more imitation than expressing my own reality in my writing. Finding my voice and allowing myself to tell my story/ies would happen over time. From there it’s been an incredible journey.”

His musical influences are mainly drawn from the 90s Hip Hop that he grew up on. “Notably artists like Nas, The Roots, Blackstar (Talib Kweli and Mos Def), Common, Lauryn Hill, John Forté. In Zimbabwe artists such as Mizchif, Dialectric Blue, DKR, Kingpinn, mUnetsi, Metaphysics, ZUBZ, Chioniso had a huge impact on me. But I listen to all types of stuff, and through people like The Soulquarians, J Dilla and Robert Glasper I find myself more inclined to create jazzy neo-soul infused Hip Hop music.”

On how his music style has evolved compared to when he first started, “I thought about this recently.” Over time I have become more deliberate in the themes that my music touches on as well the words I choose to etch into eternity. I also recall that when I started out, I was trying to be deep or complex with the rhyming, now I just try to use the music to tell stories that matter to me. Lately I’ve also been trying to break out of the boxes that I’ve found myself placed in while staying true to the things I believe in. It’s a delicate exercise that I’m still trying to figure out.”

Synik

When people listen to his music, he wants them to be inspired. “Some of the kindest feedback I can recall was someone saying my music had gotten them through a tough time and I have had variations of such feedback over the course of my career. The world can be a tough place for a lot of people, so most times my music is an attempt to give people something that helps them through it, even if it’s just through a song that reminds them that they are not alone.”

For someone new to Synik’s music, here are the songs he recommends you start with. 

“I would likely have to go with:

Hamurarwe and Muripo (Syn City) 2012.

Lot Less Different (The Soulsteez EP) 2019.

Underground feat. Biko Emcee (A Travel Guide for The Broken) * 2021.

*2021 album, release date TBA.”

The Zimbabwean artist has had many highlights in his music career. “My debut album raking in a couple of awards was certainly one. Performing at Festa2H in Senegal courtesy of Magamba was another highlight for me. A mini tour of Germany and Vienna was also a great experience and on separate occasions I found myself kicking it on stage with some of my faves like Akua Naru and Stogie T (then Tumi). Lastly being considered a peer and earning the respect of some of my favourite Zim and African MCs is something I have always considered myself fortunate to have attained.”

Synik’s favourite artists/producers:

“Artists: Depth, not many people have the singing/rapping skill on lock like this brother does. We had a duo some time ago called Soular Rayze and put out a few singles. He also featured on 2 songs on my EP, The Soulsteez. Also working with legends such as Metaphysics, mUnetsi and Begotten Sun was one for the books. I also must mention that for my new album, ‘A Travel Guide for The Broken‘, I managed to rope in a number of collaborators who all understood the assignment and brought their A game.

Synik

Producers: Hardly a week goes by when I’m not reminded of the work that we did with Begotten Sun on Syn City, so he is a producer who was instrumental in my musical trajectory. Another producer I enjoyed working with is Phil Chronics (Austria). When he reached out to me leading to us eventually putting out The Soulsteez EP, just from his production style I felt like I was Blu finding my Exile (if you want to hear one of the greatest albums IMO check out Blu and Exile – Below The Heavens). His jazzy sample-based boombap is perfect for my usually introspective raps.”

The soundtrack of Synk’s life, is Maybe Tomorrow by Stereophonics. “I suppose as someone who moved around from home to home growing up and is now living in a foreign land, the idea of home has always held a particular significance in my life.”

The top songs in his playlist right now:

“Courageous – Common (feat. Stevie Wonder and PJ)

Zange – Bongeziwe Mabandla (this artist was perhaps my greatest find last year)

Umdali – Zoë Modiga

Baba Vangu – Soko Matemai

Out of my hands – The Colour Grey (feat. Oddisee)”

The advice he would you give to his younger self is, “Don’t be hard on yourself, enjoy the process, learn as much as you can and do the work.”

Synik wants to be remembered as, “Someone who used music to touch people’s lives and make a difference in whatever small way I could.”

To get in touch with Synik

www.instagram.com/synikzim

www.facebook.com/synikzim

twitter.com/synikzim

youtube.com/Synik

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