AFTER staging an uninspiring performance at the annual Harare Shut Down Concert back in 2014, the sky rocketing graph of award-winning dancehall musician Tocky Vibes took an immediate nosedive.
Many wrote him off and said that was the end for the singer as this tragic show was followed up by a number of abysmal performances that got the public saying Tocky “aremerwa nenyika” — a play on the chanter’s lyrics from his hit track “Ayenda Nenyika”.
But somehow, Tocky has managed to stay relevant. Though no longer regarded as one of the top dancehall acts in the country, he currently tours more than most other acts in the genre who get more airplay than he does.
Last year he toured the UK, Canada, Australia, Tanzania and South Africa and just two weeks back he was rocking London alongside hotshots Jah Prayzah and Winky D.
“After the Mafikizolo show and the backlash I got from all angles, I took that whole experience as a lesson. As a new kid on the block then, I accepted my mistakes, I got up and dusted myself and got back on my path to success,” said Tocky. “I know I am going far with my music but, hazvifanire kuvanyore (things should not be easy). You cannot just arrive at your destination, there have to be ups and downs, there are great lessons for tomorrow.
“However, I never thought of quitting in the midst of all that I was facing because I haven’t accomplished my mission. Just like I sing in the track ‘Mhai’, usakande mapfumo pasi, tese muhupenyu tinofanira kushinga, tirambe tichishanda kusvikira tasvika patakananga.”
In April 2015, the singer dropped a 10-track album “Toti Toti” that was different from his previous works as he dumped the popular dancehall feel for a reggae touch with contemporary influences.
Dancehall fans were not amused.
“I am inspired by dancehall, but I follow my instincts. When my inner man says let’s do something in a different way I follow. I don’t have to please everyone. My true fans like my sound and message.
“Tocky is doing what he has always been doing and my music is being well received but analysts have their own views. However, music fans just love what I produce. To those who thought I was a guava, you will realise there are many facets to me. Ndiri guava rinenge avocado, if you look closely you will realise that I am also a mango. Tocky Vibes is a huge brand that cannot be limited to one element.
“I don’t do music to be topping charts, no. That is not the purpose of my mission. My music is all about the message and I believe there aren’t any boundaries to spreading this message. What I want to achieve is to heal people through my music. Charts are not my destiny but they are there to inspire me.”
After “Toti Toti”, Tocky kept working hard and has to date dropped 12 videos and he also dropped more than 10 other singles during the same period and two of those tracks “Bvubvururu” and “Bhora Mutambo” have caught the attention of the nation.
“As we speak we have a new album that is brewing and will be dropping soon. We also have singles that we are working on and I have collaborated with Hwindi President on one of the tracks and also partnered with Spiderman on another track.
“These collaborations are meant to bring the fans together so that as artistes, we expose ourselves to bigger audiences. This is how I got my career started as Guspy Warrior would pay for my transport to come to Harare so that I would also feature on new riddims. He did this till I got my breakthrough and the rest is history. But, I am truly grateful to him.
“I am also working with a lot of producers for my singles and upcoming album. Contrary to popular belief I do not despise riddims. I just believe for now I need to be working on something different. I still work with the same producers who are dropping the riddims and so nobody should be shocked if they hear me on a riddim in the near future.
“We also have three new videos that we will be dropping soon and we shot two of them when I was in the UK recently and one of the videos will be for the single ‘Bhora Mutambo’,” revealed Tocky.
We also got to find out his experiences growing up in a polygamous family.
“My father has 15 wives and my mother is the first one. We all lived in one homestead in rural Masvingo and this really fascinated me as I grew up. I felt that we had 15 homes and hence, there was no need whatsoever to be going next door as there was a lot to discover in my own home.
“Being the senior boy child, it also meant a greater responsibility. As I grew up I quickly learnt to make wise choices and always to be a hard worker to have a positive impact on my siblings. Today this is what I strive to do with my music. I want it to have a positive impact on those who listen to it. Just as I worked hard then as a child I continue to work hard now as a musician who is also a family man.
“I also got to live in different places, I was once based in Masvingo, then moved to Harare before I became a taxi driver in Beitbridge. I shifted to do cattle ranching in Rusape and now I am back in Harare doing what I love most, music.
All these shifts in locations have certain influences in my music. Each place has its own story that I share through the songs I sing. I am very grateful to all my fans who keep supporting the Tocky Vibes brand, they make me and each day I wake up and see them standing with me, I am humbled and thank God for them and never will I take them for granted.”