A lot of people might listen to the new hit by Winky D and Buffalo Souljah called ‘Rugare’ and not realise how much work Buff has done for the Zimbabwean music industry over the years. Nearly 10 years after his smash hit, ‘Bubble Ur Bummz’, a string of other hits and numerous awards later, it’s only in the last few years that Buffalo Souljah is truly getting on the lips of his fellow countrymen. Crazy, I know!
This is why I want to make the case for South African-based Buffalo Souljah a.k.a Thabani Ndlovu as a Zimbabwean music icon. It's not about whether you like his music or not. It's about hard work, talent and smart moves that translated into success which put Zim on the musical map. As underappreciated as he is, his work always does the talking. What I like about him besides the talent is that he embraces Zim in everything he does. Since Day One. Some artists will not even give Zim a shoutout once they ‘make it’ outside our borders. From way back when Buff would wear "Zimbabwe" tees and place the Zim flag in his videos without shame. Watch his catalogue on YouTube and you will see. Buff has more than proved that he deserves to be mentioned right up there with our country’s finest musicians considering he has been representing us Africa-wide for YEARS. Before most Zim artists could even dream of getting played on Channel O or MTV Base Africa, Buffalo Souljah was already a regular. It doesn’t end there.
Let’s validate this case with some notable points of Buffalo Souljah’s musical career.
Linking up with DJ Waxxy - The partnership between Buffalo Souljah and Oluseye Abiodun Olayanju a.k.a. “DJ Waxxy” was undoubtedly one of the smartest moves of Buff’s career. DJ Waxxy had a tremendous CV having worked at South Africa’s YFM and Metro FM previously then Channel O at the time. That means Waxxy had a wonderful network and also having strong ties in his home country, Nigeria, expanded his reach across the continent. This worked wonders for Buff’s career.
Bubble Ur Bummz (2008) - What an entry this song was! To announce yourself to the world in this way, especially while being Zimbabwean, is something we haven’t seen since. What made Buff’s achievements with this single so impressive is the fact that he was a relative unknown to pretty much everyone at the time. The music video was something many Zim artists could only dream of and here he was, doing it. It landed him 2 Channel O Music Video Awards that year.
Everything he did in 2009 - It was so easy to call Buffalo Souljah a fluke after the success of ‘Bubble Ur Bummz’. Truth is nobody gave him a chance and the bulk of Zim didn’t even care who he was. That is why his work in 2009 was so significant. ‘Izandla Phezulu’ feat Crack Boys is the song that made many people realise that he had so much more to offer as an artist. Because the track was so different to his other stuff, it also proved that he had the versatility to appeal to a wider audience. It was an anthem. The song ‘Judgement’ with its deeply relevant lyrics and his collabo, ‘My Type O Guy’ with Malawian superstar TayGrin and Namibia’s talented Gal Level pretty much cemented Buffalo Souljah’s star status. Cue in another couple of Channel O Music Video Awards for the two gems.
Adding Queen Vee to the team - I believe that one of the great things Buffalo Souljah did was put Queen Vee on the musical map. How many high quality songs and videos has Queen Vee given us to date? Plenty! And Buff had a hand in a lot of those. The hallmark of a great business person in the music industry is being able to make someone else shine by getting the most out of them. This is exactly what Buff did. In doing so he expanded his horizons and diversified his portfolio. They always do great songs together too. As a brand, Queen Vee is marketable down to the last hair follicle which makes her a worthy investment. This is the song that kicked it all off ‘Hey Lover’
Styra Inonyengesa (2011) - This was easily one of Buff’s most well-timed collabos. At the time, Cabo Snoop was huge across Africa with songs like Prakatatumba and Windeck. On the other hand Buffalo Souljah was doing well but not as well as he had done between 2008 and 2010. Getting Cabo Snoop on this track grew Buffalo Souljah's brand in a big way. How about another Channel O Music Video Award with your tea? Yep! This collabo landed Buffalo Souljah another CHOMVA for his growing collection.
Working with gTbeats (2012) - The two creatives met at Bantu Beats studio around 2012 and never looked back. Such was their chemistry that they have worked on well over 50 tracks together. Not only is their partnership mutually beneficial but Buff always treated gTbeats like a young brother and taught him plenty about the game. It shows the kind of character he is. Nothing like 2 Zimbos creating magic together! Getting gTbeats on board as a producer was a game changer because Buff’s sound evolved into something different, maintained his status as an African dancehall king and allowed him to record more material than before.
Basa Wine (2013) - This was the first Zim music video to reach a million views on YouTube. Bear in mind this was at a time when 100 000 views was a really big deal on the Zimbabwean and South African front. That was a major achievement and further validation on the rising star of Buffalo Souljah. The video was well done and became a point of contention because it featured a boa constrictor or two and you know Africans when it comes to snakes. Guess who produced the song? gTbeats!
Soja Riripo (2014) - Buff got Maneta on his video. The one and only Maneta that we all crushed on when she was on Big Brother Africa. Buff did that. The song was well received among the Zim public and the video was top class as we have come to expect of him. It was also quite suggestive as Buff and Maneta got really really close in the shots. That got people talking and wondering if the two were an item. Boom! A strong move for the PR. Buff did that. That is why Soja Riripo is significant to Buff’s career, it finally got him the recognition he needed amongst his own. Again, produced by the legendary gtBeats
Belong (2016) with Nasty C - Buffalo Souljah teamed up with, in my opinion, the best young South African rapper in recent times, Nasty C for Coke Studio ZA in 2016. That resulted in an absolute gem of a song called ‘Belong’. I see this as a significant marker in Buff’s career because it kept him relevant at a time when the South African music industry is being monetized more than ever. He was also one of the first Zimbabwean artists to make it to this coveted platform alongside Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi, Radio Fiend, Dutch and Ammara Brown. This means he can continue cashing in courtesy of his star power
Now for the icing on the cake.
A list of awards and recognition Buffalo Souljah has received in his career:
- Best Newcomer: Buffalo Souljah – “Bubble Your Bumz” [Channel O Africa Music Video Awards]
- Best Ragga Dancehall Video: Buffalo Souljah – “Bubble Your Bumz” [Channel O Africa Music Video Awards]
- Best Duo or Group - Buffalo Souljah/Taygrin/Gal level for My Type Of Girl (Zimbabwe/Malawi/Namibia) [Channel O Africa Music Video Awards]
- Best Ragga Dancehall Video - Buffalo Souljah for Judgment [Channel O Africa Music Video Awards]
- Viewers Choice (Voting) - Buffalo Souljah – Ezandlha Phezulu – Zimbabwe [SoundCity Music Video Awards]
- Best Ragga Dancehall - Buffalo Souljah ft. Cabo Snoop – Styra Inonyengesa [Channel O Africa Music Video Awards]
- Appointed Youth Cultural Ambassador (Zimbabwe)
- Most Gifted Ragga Dancehall - Buffalo Souljah – Turn Up [Channel O Africa Music Video Awards]
- Best Artist Diaspora - Buffalo Souljah [Zimdancehall Awards 2015]
- International Achiever - Buffalo Souljah [ZIMA]
Since the last Channel O African Music Video Awards were held in 2014 after MNet pulled the plug, there is every chance that Buffalo Souljah will forever be the only Zimbabwean artist alongside the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi with his Lifetime Achievement award to win a CHOMVA. Most definitely the only Zim artist to win multiple. How’s that for good measure?
The above clearly shows that there is every reason why Buffalo Souljah should be considered a Zimbabwean Music Icon. He has been consistent and achieved what many Zim artists can only dream of.
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