MAN of the moment, Van Choga (VC), exudes a lot of energy in is work, but he is actually the opposite in real life. Hard to believe, is it not? Well, our reporter Brighton Zhawi (BZ) last week caught up with the 27-year-old singer, real name Valentine Simbarashe Choga, who gave us an insight into his life. He also spoke about the new single “Ghetto Rules”, which features Ghana’s “GOAT” hitmaker Ay Poyoo and has taken the country by storm.
BZ: “Ghetto Rules”, which is a couple of weeks old, is doing well on the market, but you are already working on new songs.
VC: There is no rest my brother, time to rest will come later in life. For now, I have to work.
BZ: What are you currently working on?
VC: Singles. I am doing more singles, which you can expect in August.
BZ: You have done well on your hip hop tracks “Ndaka Understander” and “Ghetto Rules”. Should your fans expect more?
VC: I am working on mixed tracks, you will find some Afro hip-hop songs as well as dancehall tunes.
BZ: Your fans are split on which style you should pursue. What is your take?
VC: I understand. The urban fans like the hip hop side, while the outsiders like the “Pindikiti” tracks, those sort of songs. I will keep mixing both. However, I understand hip-hop has an international appeal, which is something I would like. Sean Paul is still in the game because he can fit in dancehall or pop music, whereas someone like Shabba Ranks is mainly dancehall and we rarely hear his music now.
BZ: Who is featured in your upcoming singles?
VC: It’s a surprise (laughs).
BZ: Are they local or foreign surprises?
BZ: Tell us the “Ghetto Rules” collaboration with Ay Poyoo.
VC: We approached him after seeing his style. We thought we could blend and he worked on the song for two weeks in June. Ndiri wema surprise (I’m full of surprises) (laughs).
BZ: Can you interpret some of AY Poyoo’s lyrics?
VC: He was talking about the ghetto lifestyle from his country. I will share the English lyrics soon.
BZ: Who is ‘Mudhara Kundishora’, the one you sing about in “Ghetto Rules”?
VC: He is an elder in my hood, Ruwa. He likes offering advice to young people. He was surprised and equally happy that I saluted him on the song. I am sure I will be getting more advice now.
BZ: What impact has the lockdown had on your music career?
VC: To be honest it has had a positive effect. This shows God has his ways of raising his people, even in war times others get blessings. I am grateful my music has made such an impact.
BZ: Describe your relationship with Seh Calaz?
VC: We are good brothers, what happened, happened, but I am still in good books with him and perhaps his post (after “Ghetto Rules” release) confirms there is no bad blood.
BZ: We have seen you with upcoming artistes like Avilian during your Yalanation stint. Any upcoming artistes under your wings?
VC: Ooh! We met at the studio and just started sampling some songs They are good artistes with serious potential and I would also like to help some upcoming artistes. I am available for collabos.
BZ: Tell us about the producer Mars on “Ghetto Rules” and others that you have worked with?
VC: Mars is a great man. He is a top producer and I respect all other producers I have worked with, as well as behind the scenes people. As an artiste, it is easy to take all the credit but that is wrong because a lot of people play crucial roles behind the scenes.
BZ: You always mention Mudzviti, is it where you come from?
VC: (Laughs) Not really. I have relatives I often visit there. So I am fascinated by the language spoken in that area. I love it. I come from Njanja.
BZ: So are we going to hear a new line about Njanja perhaps “nevasikana veku Njanja” since there is “Nevakomana vekwa Mudzviti”?
VC: No, by the mentioning Van Choga, Njanja is represented.
BZ: Do you prefer live bands or backtracks?
VC: Live bands are better than using backtracks. I learnt a lot from working with Shabach Band. The guys love music; they are brilliant and a joy to work with. The group boosted my confidence and since then I have decided to always perform with a live band.
BZ: How are you dealing with the pressure that comes with being in the limelight?
VC: You just have to work. What is important is just being unique and that is what I have tried since making my breakthrough. It has not been easy.
I started way back around 2005 and, believe it or not, some people in my area did not want to associate with me, they took me for a madman, but I knew my time would come.
Those people are now back saying ‘tomuziva uyu, ndewedu’ (laughs). I love negative comments, especially on social media, they are a motivation.
When people give you negativity, show character and turn that into positive energy.
BZ: What are some of the misconceptions that you think people have about you?
VC: That I am mad and I take drugs. I am a quiet guy who is uniquely doing art.
BZ: Does Van Choga have a girlfriend or wife?
VC: (Laughs) Van Choga is single, no girlfriend and when I marry the whole nation will know and will be invited to the wedding. Tokudai mese!