Zimbabwean-American based hip-hop artiste Dumisani “Draze” Maraire Junior is a rapper on a mission.
He recounted how his father Dumisani Maraire Senior helped him in shaping up his musical career as well as preserving the Zimbabwean culture through playing traditional instruments.
Draze has several songs used on television shows like empire and the rap as well as Hollywood movies.
H-Metro entertainment reporter ZOLANI NLEYA caught up with DRAZE as he explained his musical journey.
ZN: Hello Draze?
DRAZE: What up?
ZN: How have you been?
DRAZE: I have been good, just focused on putting in the work.
ZN: So, Draze give us a brief background about yourself?
DRAZE: I was born in Seattle. When I was a kid, my mom sent me, my brother and sister to Zimbabwe to live here for a while.
She wanted us to really know who we were and where our people came from. Still a kid when I returned to the States. My mother Lora Chiorah and father Dumisani Maraire trained me to play Marimbas and Mbira to try and make sure I always had a piece of my culture with me.
ZN: How has been music?
DRAZE: For me music has been great. From hip hop to Shona music I have been blessed to travel the world. Most recently I have been writing music for some of the biggest shows in the world. Among them are The Masked Singer, Love and Hip Hop, Empire and so many more. In 2019 I had over 100 music placements on TV shows and films.
ZN: How have you been managing in this big name dominated industry?
DRAZE: There are two sides to living in Hollywood and being in this industry. There is the side of glamour and glitz, which is why most people move here to chase a dream. Then there is the side where the real business deals are done. I have been more focused on operating in that space.
ZN: Do you feel appreciated more that side than back home?
DRAZE: I tend to feel appreciated wherever my music is heard. I’m obviously more known in places like Seattle because I spent most of my life there but as my people back in Zim hear what I’m doing more, they tend to appreciate it as well.
ZN: How many albums and singles do you have to date?
DRAZE: I was a part of a group called C.A.V.E some years back and we put out an album. As a solo artist I have put out a couple of mixtapes. One called “Prince of The Thieves” the other called “Seattle’s Own.” I also put out some mixtapemovies and a bunch of singles.
ZN: So why hiphop of all the genres?
DRAZE: I don’t know that I chose it as much as it chose me. I was given an ear and a gift from God and my parents. Hip hop is what I grew up around in the hood. Sure, my parents were playing the Bhundu Boys at home but my homies were playing Biggie and Pac in the streets so I got the best of both worlds.
ZN: If you were not to do Hip hop which genre were you going to choose?
DRAZE: That’s a tough question. I write a lot of different styles of music. I’d probably try to create my own genre because nothing else really fits me.
ZN: How has been your music received in the United States?
DRAZE: In the Northwest region I am one of the top artists. It’s hard to get a region behind you and I have been able to do that. Now I’m focused on exposing my music to the rest of the country and the world. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
ZN: How have you been carrying your father’s legacy as a musician?
DRAZE: I am dedicating my upcoming album to the memory of my father Dumisani Maraire. I was named after him, so I must carry the torch and represent my family with pride. This album will be a fusion of traditional Marimba and Mbira music with hip hop to create a sound that I call Ancestral Art. I know my father would be proud!
ZN: Besides music what else do you do for a living?
DRAZE: I am an entrepreneur. I am part owner of several businesses. But music is my first love.
ZN: What can you say about the current state of the music industry in Zimbabwe especially Zim Hip Hop?
DRAZE: I can’t say much about the industry in Zim because I don’t live there so I haven’t had to navigate it. To be honest I have heard a lot of singers but haven’t heard much hip hop from back home. But there is a lot of dope music coming out of Zim that the world needs to hear. I’m not surprised though, we have always been dope and very creative.
ZN: Do you think foreign-based artistes are being neglected of late?
DRAZE: Not at all. Things are now better than ever for artists everywhere. You can make a song and reach someone in China or Europe or America without the need of a major label or marketing company. There is so much power in the artists hands, we just have to stop waiting on someone to validate or recognize us and focus on reaching those potential fans who can appreciate our music.
ZN: What other challenges have you been facing as a foreign based musician?
DRAZE: My biggest challenge as of late is that I am creating music that is unique so when I play it for A&Rs in meetings they don’t know what to do with it. They’ve never heard a Mbira; they can’t even spell it lol. So, there is a learning curve with my music. But labels are always behind the curve. I’m counting on the people to feel it and that’s what matters.
ZN: Is Draze married?
DRAZE: I am married to my wife Ja’Net and we have a beautiful daughter Nyasha.
ZN: How supportive is your family towards your musical career?
DRAZE: They are behind me 1000 percent!
ZN: Any forthcoming projects?
DRAZE: My upcoming album is called “African American,” I am planning to release it at the end of March/Early April. I also just released a single called “Building Black Wealth” which features me playing Mbira. This song is designed to give people a feel for the direction of the album and to wet their appetite. So far, so good. People all over the world are loving it!
ZN: Heard you have an album coming what must your fans expect from you, what’s new?
DRAZE: The sound will be something we have never heard before in hip hop. I am planning a good amount of collaborations with some pretty big African artists. You may even hear a few people from Zim. Afro beat is dope but it’s time for the world to feel this Shona flavor too. And as always, my pen game will be vicious.
ZN: Of all your songs which one is your favorite?
DRAZE: lol There is literally no way I can answer that. I really love my music and every song for a different reason. My favorite is always whatever I’m vibing to at the time and right now it’s a song I wrote called Mazvita. You haven’t heard it, but you will soon. If you ask me tomorrow though, I might say something else.
ZN: Given a chance to collaborate with a well-seasoned artiste locally who would you choose and why?
DRAZE: I couldn’t pick one, I like so many. I think Jah Prayzah is dope, Winky D, Ishan, Andy Muridzo, I like a lot of them.
ZN: What advice can you give to upcoming artistes especially those in line with your kind of genre?
DRAZE: Don’t be so focused on the destination that you forget to enjoy the journey.
ZN:Special shout outs?
DRAZE: S/O to all the Chiorah’s, all the Maraire’s and ALL the beautiful people of Zim!