Gerald Mugwenhi, known to most in the Zimbabwe hip hop community as Synik, is an extraordinary hip hop artist. Small in stature, he stands tall above his peers in his thought-provoking lyrics, hard-hitting rap style, stage presence and energy. His debut album “Syn City”, launched at the Shoko Festival in 2012, received a record-breaking four awards including Best Album, Best Newcomer, Best Production and Best Collaboration (along with fellow hip-hop artists Jr. Brown, Metaphysics and MC Chita) for the radio hit single, Powercut at the 2012 Zimbabwean Hip Hop Awards.
This dynamic artist, who hails from Kwekwe, has been performing on Harare stages since 2007. Starting at the iconic Book Café Open Mic Stage and the monthly Spoken Word Slam at Shoko, he has honed his craft to an understated yet exciting art form. When asked about his music Synik says, “As an artist I find myself in a constant state of evolution and I’m still trying to find my own voice.” One of the most remarkable things about Synik and his debut album is how authentically Zimbabwean the music sounds. The concept album appropriates the dark, brooding, Hollywood motion picture Sin City to Harare to great effect, with track after track of clever rhymes, mingled Shona and English that explore the harsh realities of living life in the capital city. The album has more than a handful of standout tracks including the cautionary tale Chenjerera, the radio smash hit Powercut and the powerful and inspirational Marching as One. The album was produced by legendary Zimbabwean hip-hop pioneer, Begotten Sun.
Synik often collaborates with other hip hop artists citing his on-going collaborative project with fellow rapper/singer Depth as one to look out for in the future as well as his past work collaborating with artists from as far afield as Nigeria, South Africa and Austria. Synik’s rap flows are accompanied by backing tracks like the majority of hip hop artists, but lately he has been performing with a full band. When asked why he made the shift to live instruments he says, “People tend to really appreciate live music in Zim”. His debut solo show on the Coca-Cola Green at HIFA this year received rave reviews and he soon followed up with a tour of Germany and Austria in August, with several performances in Berlin. Of this he says, “It was a great experience. I did five or six shows and collaborated with artists who were that side too.” Earlier this year he performed to rapturous applause at one of West Africa’s premier hip hop festivals, Festa 2H in Senegal. Watch out for a follow up album, it’s bound to make a splash.