UK indie Hip Hop artist Rhyme Assassin gears up for the release of a major single titled “Rhyme Apostles” set to drop on April 3rd, 2023. The record features hand-selected Hip Hop legends and icons including Crooked I, Craig G, Reks, Ruste Juxx, K Solo, Chino XL, Keith Murray, Chino XL, Canibus, AFRO, and Antlive Boombap with an intro by Jadakiss and Deep Voice on production. This record brings forth a refreshing sense of collaborative unity while offering the essence and elements that push forth the culture. In the interview below, Rhyme Assassin chops it up about the single, the diverse features and their contributions, the Hip Hop scene in the UK, and more.
MJ: Before we jump into your upcoming release of “Rhyme Apostles” let everyone know who you are and where you’re from.
Rhyme Assassin: My name is Tichaona Brian Monera. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. I migrated to the United Kingdom to explore opportunities for further education and personal development. An important part of that was pursuing a career in music. This is something that I have already been doing in Zimbabwe where I gained popularity with hip-hop in the early 90s. Freestyling with my homies after school, I was able to hone my craft to become a recognizable voice on the Zimbabwe music scene. These were formative moments in my music career. These encounters earned me the name Rhyme Assassin which has become my official MCEE name. The name Rhyme Assassin resonates with the skillful poetic lyrical expression of the music and the excellence of execution of my craft.
MJ: As a Hip Hop artist from the UK, tell us about the Hip Hop scene over there.
Rhyme Assassin: Hip-hop has always had a firm grip on the UK music scene with a lot of drill dominating. Hip-hop artists like Stormzy have become household names, generating a huge following worldwide. My estimation is that the UK is on the brink of becoming a hip-hop powerhouse globally. There are many upcoming hip-hop artists….
MJ: What led you to begin a career in rap and lead a lifestyle true to Hip Hop culture?
Rhyme Assassin: The greatest influencers that kickstarted my rap career are the likes of all-time greats such as KRS ONE, Run DMC & Big Daddy Kane, BIG, and 2 PAC. I grew up listening to their music on cassettes and vinyl. Because of my experiences and encounters with these hip-hop moguls, I embrace the hip-hop culture and started living out and expressing this in my lyrical content. My inspiration to write was primarily from Canibus and Krs One. I can even recall the first day I listened to Gangstarr – Moment of truth, Dead Prez – Let’s get free and DMX – It’s dark and hell is hot. Those were the early days when hip-hop was not playing much on Zimbabwe radio. Our exposure to hip-hop was mainly from folks coming from overseas and bringing cassette tapes back home. I would use my pocket money to rent out hip-hop tapes for a couple of days or more so that I can just listen to the latest hip-hop beats.
MJ: Ok, let’s jump into your new single which will be available for download and purchase on April 3rd, 2023. How were you able to link with all the powerhouses and legends? Talk about the thought process of “Rhyme Apostles” to hand-picking features, to the production, and to the final canvas.
Rhyme Assassin: The initial idea was for Rhyme Apostles to have 4 artists. Later, drawing inspiration from the Bible, the thought of the 12 apostles of Jesus dawned on my mind and this became the womb that gave birth to Rhyme Assassin’s 12 apostles on the track. The new single is based on an idea that had been in for quite a while. My vision was to bring together some of the greatest lyricists and recognizable names in hip-hop. Being on the same record with the likes of Crooked I Canibus, Craig G, Keith Murray and a host of other renowned hip-hop legends is an incredible personal triumph.
Achieving this was monumental. The journey was not a straightforward one. It was long and challenging, but an enjoyable one. The one thing that made it worthwhile is the caliber of people that I was targeting. These were real hip-hop heads, with a genuine love for true hip-hop culture. I was truly humbled by these guys’ acceptance and willingness to embrace me and work with me to bring my vision to fruition.
Every single one of them exhibited high levels of professionalism with such amazing humility. Each demonstrated a love and a passion to collaborate with emcees with roots in Africa. The emcees that made it on the record I those that reached out to and they were magnanimous enough to accept the invitation.
Shout out to those emcees who believed in me and were keen to be part of the project but could not make the financial commitment in time and were unable to be featured. There will always be scope to do collaborative projects with them in the near future. Another noteworthy artist who made an enormous contribution to this project is Deep Voice, a UK producer who created the best used in the debut single. He created the beat some seven years ago along with other beats that I subsequently used. This particular beat was archived until now and it is just the right beat for the project. The bear will be mixed and mastered by yet another creative, P2doah, a Zimbabwean-based producer. We are also currently working on the video for the song.
MJ: What are you hoping audiences take away from the single?
Rhyme Assassin: The single greatest desired outcome for this project is a greater realization but both artists and music lovers of the incredible power of collaborative music ventures across the industry. The single, Rhyme Apostles, is a clear and powerful demonstration of the synergy resulting from such collaboration. My wish for this single is that it will be timeless in its appeal and not just for a season.
MJ: It’s evident with the single, you are on a mission to conserve the authenticity of Hip Hop and push it to the forefront of music. Can you elaborate on that?
Rhyme Assassin: I am a firm believer in the need for the conservation of the truest essence of Hip hop culture expressed through lyricism. The caliber of emcees on the track have mastered this art and is an inspiration to me as I climb to my place of significance in the game.
My conviction is that hip-hop culture has a powerful potential to bring about societal and cultural cohesion globally. In that sense, the single has an apostolic assignment – to bring about a fresh crop of hip-hop artists whose focus is beyond their individual musical domains to champion a movement that will produce a generation of like-minded people. The talents and skill sets of the participating emcees are as diverse as their fingerprints are. It is this diversity that I value and celebrates the most in this project. The creative lyricism and different execution styles of the art make this project unequaled by any in hip-hop circles and that is what thrills me.
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