Remembering Grace, a Girl with a Gun:
After spending the night listening to Girlz with Gunz, I spent the day remembering Grace Maseva. She was always cheerful, always smiling, and always making bawdy jokes. For her, sexual organs were a normal part of life. A person must pee and play with something. That’s just how things are; a tree has fruit, a baboon has that prideful butt, we have our special business. She would laugh and laugh. She was also a great cook. Always did the greens just right. She also fought in the Second Chimurenga, the war that ended white rule in Zimbabwe.
Grace was a trained killer.
Grace, who survived a brutal war but not the spread of AIDS, could clean, assemble, and load an AK-47. She knew when to duck for cover, when to charge, and when to fire her weapon. There were many women like her in the War of Independence, and their sacrifice, dedication, and general brilliance is celebrated in Girlz with Gunz. This is the spirit of the work. The collaboration between two very talented American-based African musicians, Tendai Maraire and Hussein Kalonji (aka Chimurenga Renaissance), translates the fire of the revolutionary African woman into a music that’s richly and thickly innovative.
It is fitting indeed that the most experimental, dazzling, and even dangerous work by Chimurenga Renaissance, a duo that is a part of the trans-African Black Constellation (Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Erik Blood), is inspired by women like my cousin, Grace. She was once a girl with a gun. She was trained to kill her oppressors. She wanted to build and live in a better world. Peace always has a price.
--- Charles Tonderai Mudede
“Merging hip hop and African instrumentation into something mesmeric and true.” ---The Quietus
“Speaks to Zimbabwe’s history (“chimurenga” translates to “struggle”), but this is classic message rap that spans regionally.” ---Pitchfork
Chimurenga Renaissance features Tendai Maraire, from the widely acclaimed Seattle group Shabazz Palaces, one of the leaders of hip hop’s “audacious progressive fringe”(New York Times).
Tendai hails from a renowned Zimbabwean musical lineage. His father, Abraham Dumisani Maraire, moved to the United States in the late 60’s and helped create a flourishing Zimbabwean music scene in the Pacific Northwest. Tendai’s partner in Chimurenga Renaissance, guitarist Hussein Kalonji, is a first generation Congolese American born in Washington DC. His father, Raymond “Braynck” Kalonji, is a Congolese guitar legend credited with pioneering the Rumba/Soukouss sound.
Girlz with Gunz is a 27-minute, 11-song EP (vinyl/download). It is Chimurenga Renaissance’s first release for Glitterbeat Records. A full-length album will follow in the autumn of 2016.
Otherworldly sonics, Zimbabwean beats, Congolese guitar ambiance, political heat.