Constance van Niekerk
God driven rap, infused with some hypnotic, addictive ragga mixes and the result is phenomenal gospel music. Gospel music has been revolutionalized and there in the forefront is a man who calls himself 2blac aka Saul 2 Paul, Africa’s own living gospel singing Tupac.
It is heavy Hip Hop full of words of encouragement and bible verses. Gone are the days when gospel music was predictable and just hymn singing. This gospel music will knock you off your feet and will get the entire church praising.
2blac aka Saul 2 Paul was born Stephen Mavuto Mvulah (not related to the singer Amon Mvula) on the 9th of July 1976 in Shamva, a small mining town in the province of Mashonaland Central in Zimbabwe. 2blac, a name inspired by his love for the late enigmatic rapper 2Pac and Saul 2 Paul representing the transition from his old life to his new life in Christ, went to Mupfurudzi Primary School in Madziwa, Zimbabwe. As a young lad, he used to lip sync the music of reggae artists such as Eddy Grant, Don Carlos, Peter Tosh and Gregory Isaacs to mention a few. His older brother, now based in Canada would write him the lyrics and 2blac would take to the mic just as if he was born with it.
2blac’s love for music was more of an obsession as he was going to discos from a very tender age of 11. He made the school choir in grade 5, which was very rare as only grade 6s and 7s usually made the choir.
2blac started writing his own lyrics at the tender age of 12, the verse which he still sings when someone requests for freestyle.
“As I went for high school, my love for music grew stronger and my elder brother and I had a small portable radio popularly known as ‘Peoples’ radio’ back then,” says 2blac. On this radio he heard the songs from Public Enemy, N.W.A, De la Soul, Bel Biv DeVoe, Bismarck and a lot of old school rappers. This was the beginning of his love affair with rap.
2blac goes on to say, “My best friend who was affectionately known as Shabba, Tonderai Tachiona was so much into ragga and that made me love rap even more because I wanted to be different from the others. I started writing more rap songs, mostly from N.W.A, Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince. At the age of 14, I could sing Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby from the beginning to the end.”
“Back then music was regarded a thing for radicals and rebellious people and my mum was not amused. She was against the idea of me singing and was stressed that I will end up failing my studies. So I decided to suspend my song writing for a while to concentrate on my studies. I passed my A levels and got a job as a Premium Services Clerk with an insurance company,” he said. Soon after, 2blac resumed his love affair with music and clubbing became the order of the day.
During his clubbing days, 2blac met with a lot of other accomplished musicians such as the beautiful and talented Chiwoniso Maraire who he wrote some tracks with but they lost touch. He also met Laygwaan Shark who was with Blackfoot Tribe then and now based in Germany with Metaphysics. He also did some freestyle with one of Zimbabwe’s finest rappers, Potato who was then with the late veteran Andy Brown at Willows Night Club in the high density suburb of Highfields, Harare.
“My love for hip hop was then cemented with the coming on the scene of Tupac Shakur. I fell in love with his style and his educative lyrics. I became so obsessed with Tupac that my clothing and style resembled the West Coast rapper. I had every cassette by Tupac and I know most if not all of the late rap star’s songs.
“In 1998 I left my clerical job and in 1999, I enrolled at Harare Polytechnic College to study Business Studies majoring in Human Resources Management. I also started Deejaying at Willows and Tacos Night Clubs in Harare. In 2005, I recorded my first demo CD with 5 tracks. It was recorded at Phathood Entertainment in Chitungwiza. The tracks were produced by the late Action Jackson, Akavelli and Coldface.”
2blac performed at Pakare Paye, a joint owned by Zimbabwe’s music guru Oliver Mtukudzi in the small town of Norton alongside the urban groove artist Ex-Q in 2009, Stunner and Extra Large. He also performs in churches and in recently, he performed at West Rand Got Talent 2012 festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, an event which was held to raise funds for Isabel Kruger a burnt victim who was burnt at a family freak braai accident in 2011. The event is also known as the Pippie Festival
“I was so humbled to perform at the event with Ntombi, the lady I’m currently working with. Our group’s name is Dosage, a musical dosage,” says 2blac.
2blac found his faith in 2006 and went on a gospel tip; he has not looked back since then. He has to date written close to 30 tracks.
An album, Anxious for Nothing is on the cards. It’s an all gospel 12 track CD except for two tracks he dedicates to the two most important women in his life, his wife, Tatenda, a song titled ‘Paradise’ and his mother, a song titled ‘Thank You Mama’.
The tracks on this album are truly divine inspired with beautiful but strong and educative lyrics. These tracks surely speak not only to the heart but are indeed food to the soul as well. The instruments on the album are neatly arranged and Ras’ voice booms out on most songs smoothly and enticingly.
The entire album is worth listening to and some songs which stand out from the rest are, ‘Thank You for Finding Me’, a song about a man who is grateful to God for the gift of salvation. ‘You Are Not Alone’ assures all of us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. It has such powerful lyrics, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom… teerera (listen)… In everything you do God is by your side, this is true wisdom not foolish pride…” This song reminds me so much of Tupac Shakur, only cleaner and definitely pure.
2blac says, “One song ‘Spiritual’ is a must hear by everyone. It is a song about conscientising people that we are spirit beings with a soul that lives in a body. It also teaches that we ought not to succumb to the lust of the flesh. It is one of the best. It is sampled from the best rapper, Nas’ Nothing Lasts Forever”.
‘Time Is Not on Our Side’ is a beautiful song which starts with two young sisters with voices of angels. Rumbie and Rutendo Mutangadura were Tatenda Mvulah’s students at Sunday School in Norton. If you are heaven bound, 2blac’s music will be the perfect companion on that upward ride. This album is explosive, full of fireworks and satisfaction guaranteed.
“What inspires me to write songs is my desire to educate the youths. Hip Hop is responsible for many ruined lives and I want to restore those lives. My lyrics are clean but done in such a way Tupac or MOP would do it, but in a more positive way. I want the youths to enjoy themselves and I also want to preach to them. I am a soul winner through the music. I remember one track I wrote, ‘Hell is Real’ which made Coldface give his life to Christ.
“At first, my wife, Tatenda did not understand it but now that we are in our seventh year together, she knows that my music is my dream and I am happy she is now supportive.”
So what is 2blac’s hope for the future? “2blac is always writing songs but as for now, the new album is of top priority and of course some videos as well.”
2blac currently resides in one of South Africa’s capital cities, Pretoria, Jacaranda City with his wife and three children. 2blac is definitely the new colour of Gospel music.