We had an opportunity to talk to Outspoken, an underreported but seriously talented MC from Zimbabwe. PAN finds it befitting to open the Culture section of this site with an interview we did with Outspoken on his career and perspectives on HipHop its functional purpose beyond the aesthetics. His thoughts, spirituality and general vibe is something we seriously admire. Meet Outspoken...
PAN: Besides music, what else do you do?
OUTSPOKEN: I am a Projects Manager to one of Zimbabwe's leading cultural organizations that uses new media, art, culture and activism as a means to expand democratic space and free expression. I am also a poet (or is that still in music?) I am a vegetarian who can cook up anything and love replicating dishes in a healthier and more experimental manner. I love taking care of my dogs (actual dogs...not hip-hop dawgs unless the reference is going to tie in DMX!hahaha)
PAN: What motivated and continues to motivate you to be an MC?
OUTSPOKEN: Everyday we are faced with increasing information that in the most part navigates us into a very material and shallow way, I refuse to silently sit by or complain. Through my work I feel like always providing the alternative and not always the ideal version of how I see reality. My expression comes from a very small quarter of the affected masses (not to say I speak for them or on their behalf...but my inspiration stems from there) I continue to MC because we continue to face multiple unjust systems and structure, because exploitation still exists and that there is still the 99% under the 1% that monopolizes our future to a great extent.
PAN: How do you come up with your pieces- whats the creative process like (from a blank piece of paper to an mp3file?
OUTSPOKEN: Sometimes I just challenge myself with crazy beat concepts, sometimes I am inspired by issues that we always face on a day to day but never have a chance to sit down and critically talk about just because we have a 9 - 5 job that we have to get to. Things that weigh heavy on our souls that need time to be unearthed. Also the beautiful that we don't have time to notice in our great rush to our next great rush in our daily existence. But the process always comes from an inspired or deeply frustrated space that I connect with personally.
PAN: Can you tell us more about the double CD project; Is this your first? How were the collaborations? Why 2 albums? And why offer it for free online?
OUTSPOKEN: The double CD chronicles my life and the truths of lives around me from 2007 with Zimbabwe acting as the canvas for that creative expression. The project was my thoughts and travels from that time up until the end of 2012. Due to me being busy with my many other works, I was unable to finish recording and releasing in time and though my mind shifted in a few places I felt that the project still needed to be released and shared. The reason why I made it free (on media fire only because it is for sale on my website) is because I also understand that the people that also need to listen to this the most cannot easily afford it, and most important to me is having the message being shared as far and wide as possible... As long as we can affect change in one being we are a successful outfit in my eyes... Let everyone else sell out venues. My focus has always been to build and heal as best I can through art. The only collaborations on the album were from two of my very good sisters, Hope Masike, who graced us on Spiritual Mystic and is always a crazy energy to work with. The second and very dear was the late Chiwoniso Maraire... This collaboration was magical for so many reasons. It was the first song I recorded off the double album of previously unreleased material, and it took ages to lock her down. We had just one recording session and I had a sore throat. The saddest thing about that collaboration is she never got to hear the finished record as she passed before the 4th of September 2013 release. But the magic from the collaborations stretch to how I related with these two phenomenal sisters before we actually thought of working together. Previously I have released an EP with my band, which had the original master of Sunshine City and Sounds Like What I Heard Before but this was my first official release.
PAN: As someone involved in other creative fields as well as in administrative work, How do you see the growth of HIPHOP and the cultural industry in Africa?
OUTSPOKEN: The hip hop industry is definitely growing, but aspects and fundamentals of the culture are being substituted by the not-so-favorable aspects of the movement. We need more positive music to reach our kids, we need to offer knowledge a chance when we pen these rhymes, we need to realize that future generations will look back and will be faced with the daunting task of figuring out if our generation was responsible for progression or regression... These are not just words that we offer out to the universe...they are our prayers and our beliefs...There is more to life than radio spins and tour dates.
The Slave Master's Whip.