SNEAK PEEK Freeman Makopa

Zimdancehall chanter Freeman – real name Emegy Sylvester Chizanga (EC) – who shot to fame after releasing his hit song Joina City, continues to rise.

Having started off as a butcher boy, he is now one of the topmost Zimdancehall musicians in the country. He speaks to NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Freeman Makopa.

ND: Who is Freeman and how did he rise to fame?

EC: I was born in 1988 and grew up in Bindura, and did my education there before relocating to Harare in 2007. I used to play soccer and in 2008 played for a Division One side. From there, I worked as a butcher boy at the age of 18. In 2010, that’s when I started doing my recording seriously.

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ND: Usually, when artistes go to perform on big stages, some rowdy fans have a tendency of throwing missiles at them. Has that happened to you?

EC: Sometimes it’s not hatred, but the problem will be with the artiste. For instance, if you perform badly, that’s when you encounter such scenarios and as for me, yes, it happened when I was performing at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield, Harare. I was later advised that it was a set-up.

ND: How do you deal with negative criticism?

EC: I have realised that if you have critics in your career, that alone will motivate you to scale greater heights. Being a musician is a tough journey, so one has to keep their head high.

ND: You had a childhood dream of playing for the national soccer team. Why did you shift to music?

EC: I used to play soccer from my school days, and I even played for Division One sides, NDS and Bindura FC. And before, I used to go for training after studio until I found that the music industry provided more opportunities.

ND: In February, ExQ walked away the biggest winner at StarFM awards for the song Nzenza, which you did together. There were social media rumours that you are no longer in good books, which is why he did not acknowledge you. Is that true?

EC: We are true friends and have always been in good books. Yes, ExQ didn’t give me credit, but he was just excited and he forgot to, which is not an issue. We met later and he gave me something. I can tell you that ExQ is my friend.

ND: Some fans, especially those who have never been to Harare, still think Joina City is a lodge or motel because of the lyrics in your song, Joina City. Can you tell us how you came up with that song?

EC: Joina City is a city in Panama. There was a friend of mine who went there when we were young and he used to say ‘Sly (nickname), come to Joina City here in Panama; it’s an amazing place.’ So, I was not referring to our local Joina City (mall) when I wrote the song around 2009 while Joina City was still under construction.

ND: Do you perform with a full band?

EC: Yes, it’s called HkD.

ND: Since you are married, how do you handle female fans that throw themselves at you?

EC: This happens a lot. Girls throw themselves at me, but I just treat them as my sisters because some of them come with a hidden agenda, targeted at tarnishing my image.

ND: Which international artistes do you wish to do collabos with?

EC: I wish to work with Vybz Kartel. He is one of my icons and in Africa, I would love to work with Stone Bwoy from Ghana and Patoranking.

ND: How do you handle your celebrity status?

EC: We are trying to walk in the shoes of celebrities, but at times it’s difficult to do something when you are a celebrity.

ND: Is music paying you enough to live on or you have other sources of income?

EC: Music is paying, I don’t want to lie. I thank God for that because I am where I am today because of music.

ND: How do your fans access your music?

EC: They do so through Facebook, my YouTube channel, Instagram, iTunes and my WhatsApp groups.

ND: Are you still recording in Dzivarasekwa?

EC: I record anywhere (as long as there is a studio available). In DZ, there is Bigyards, and I record some of my songs there. I have also recorded with Mount Zion, Jippers, DJ Tamuka and Simplex.

ND: Your parting shot?

EC: Stay strong and put God first in everything you do, and you will never go wrong. I will also take this opportunity to thank my fans who have supported me right from the start.