Q&A: TRACE Chats EXCLUSIVELY with Zambian Rapper on the Rise Swish

Born Farai Muzungaile on 15 September 1988 in Lusaka, Zambia, Swish – also known as ‘Swishy Swish’ – fell in love with music when he first started rapping at the tender age of 9, having followed music’s most popular movers and shakers of that era, including 2Pac, Biggie, LL Cool J, and TLC. With leading hip hop pioneers of today, such as Drake and Kendrick Lamar, boasting original new-school hip hop sounds conceived through personal experiences, Swish has, in turn, drawn inspiration from both rap eras and is slowly, but surely, creating unique urban sounds that reign true to his Afrocentric sensibilities.

Making leaps and bounds to further refine his craft all throughout his upbringing, there came a time in Farai’s life when a shift in focus towards pursuing academic studies took top priority, leading the Zambian native to take a 4 year hiatus from his aspirations towards a career in music. He later continued pursuing music after successfully completing a degree in computing at England’s University of Greenwich in 2011.

swish mixtape pic

Producing and releasing his first mixtape, titled ‘FaRaIDAY’, in his hometown of Lusaka in 2013, the Zambian rapper fast-tracked his growing notoriety to ‘household name’ status after tracks like “FaRaIDAY,” “My Department,” “Do Great,” and “You Decide” started receiving frequent airplay on local radio stations, later dropping his debut music video for the track “You Decide” that same year.

In early 2014, Swish released a number of music videos from his mixtape, some of which include “FaRaIDAY Remix” and “Pretend Sometimes.”

His relentless approach towards the continual release of new music videos kept Swish on a roll, garnering widespread television airplay that transcended far beyond his home country’s border, with the rest of Africa starting to take notice.

We spoke exclusively with the Zambian rapper on the rise in an exclusive Q&A to delve deeper into his background and musical sensibilities.

What’s the story behind your stage name Swish?

I used to play basketball in junior high and often scored a ‘swish’ at every jump shot. My friends soon took notice and started calling me ‘Swish’. The name has stuck around to this day.

Describe your unique sound and the type of music you make?

Hip hop influenced by my Zambian and African roots.

From the onset of your career, who has been your most influential artist or producer and why?

I’d have to say my favorite artist is Zambian hip hop pioneer the late Daddy Zemus because of how unique his lyrical ability was during his reign. My favorite producer is Dr. Dre because he knows how to fuse the right sounds together with just about any instrumental he works on. I find Dre to be the true definition of a hit-maker.

What lead you down the path of academia and your 4 year break from music?

That’s simple, my strong appreciation and understanding of the value of education. Not only did I want to be a musician; I also wanted to develop a career in a field like information technology, which really fascinates me. Not only that, it has also added a lot of value to my life and my current aspirations towards music.

How did your experience studying abroad impact on pursuing music thereafter?

My studies made a very positive impact on my musical journey. Subjects such as ‘IT Project and Quality Management’ gave me special insights on how to use different communication tools to communicate text, audio and video files to a group of people involved in a project which I find to be very effective and less time-consuming where my music is concerned. Other subjects such as “Web Engineering” have helped me learn the importance of having a website or blog as a platform to upload my music, both audio & visual, as well as advertise my personal brand. The discipline imparted by my study regime has also helped me find a balance between my creative nature and critical planning.

Which of your music video’s has been your favorite to shoot and why?

“FaRaIDAY Remix” has been my favorite music video because it covered a lot of good shots from the scenarios, both the studio scene and the club scene.  It involved a lot of choreography, which makes the video stand out for a party track.

Which major acts would you like to collaborate with?

I’d like to work with the likes of Cassper Nyovest, DJ Dimples, Oliver Mtukudzi, Yemi Alade, Patoranking and Drake, just to mention a few.

What sounds can listeners expect to hear from you this year?

They can expect my debut album, which is a work in progress. The album will have a variety of genres from hip hop and R&B to Afro-pop.

Lastly, describe the ultimate goal that defines the pinnacle of your success.

My ultimate goal would to be to get an internationally recognized award such as a Grammy. Apart from that, I’d like to be affiliated to a wider platform that will help me encourage the youth to never give up on their dreams because I believe that if my dreams can come true, so can theirs.


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