HARARE – London-based disc jockey Alfred Munhenga does not call himself King Alfred for nothing — he genuinely believes he is peerless. But after a bountiful career in which he has worked with renowned international artistes who can dispute his royal claims?
The Daily News entertainment editor Dakarai Mashava recently interviewed King Alfred from his London base. Below are excerpts from the interview:
Who is King Alfred?
King Alfred is a proud Zimbabwean musical ambassador.
How long have you been a Deejay?
I have been a deejay or selector for over 25 years.
When did you set up New Generation Sound system?
I set up New Generation Sound in 1988 with my two brothers General Oliver and Slauta G, but we were underground just playing at wedding parties, graduation parties and in some ghetto backyard clashes.
In 1990 my uncle Oliver Kusemwa a lawyer bought us a disco and we became even stronger and international when my friend Don E joined us in 1996.
Can we compare New Generation with other top sound systems in Zimbabwe?
New Generation can’t be compared with any sound system in Zimbabwe at the moment because of the unique style in which we do the music business.
No disrespect to no sound but we opened doors to many sounds so we are trendsetters.
We respect all foundation sounds which were formed before us because we learnt one or two things from them.
In your opinion, which is the best sound system in Zimbabwe at the moment?
We are still the best sound in Zimbabwe because we managed to stay for that long in the business and still maintain our morals and earn respect from our fans and peers.
We never buy respect but we are the people’s choice.
Who do you think is the best ever Zimbabwean DJ?
Of course I am the best ever Zimbabwean DJ. My history speaks for itself. I have come from nothing to something. I have done wonders straight from Zimbabwe to UK.
I have worked with so many international DJs and artistes like Tony Matterhorn, Black Cat, Mighty Crown, Bass Odessey, Chris Goldfinger, Robbo Ranx, Mr Easy, Ninjaman, Busy Signal, Chi Chi Ching, Spanner Banner, Mavado and Bounty Killer.
I have also opened doors for Zimdancehall to be loved in the Diaspora.
I have invited Zimbabwean artiste Winky D and others to the UK to showcase themselves.
Right in Jamaica, if you ask about King Alfred they know I raised the flag of my beloved Zimbabwe.
In the UK I have paved way for young and upcoming DJs and artistes from Zimbabwe by hosting some sound clashes for them to be heard and promoting their music on my radio show jamrockradio which is talk of the UK because it links artistes from all over the world.
Who inspired you to be a DJ?
I was inspired by my grandfather Munhenga who was a great mbira player. The legend Bob Marley was without doubt a defining inspiration.
Do you agree that Mad Minnox is one of the best Zimbabwean DJs ever? Is it also true that you and Mad Minnox are not the best of friends?
Beyond any reasonable doubt I agree that Mad Minnox is one of the best Zimbabwean DJs, but I have to give credit to his brother Bango aka Jackie B.
Bango was a big selector and represented his sound for years and people loved and respected him. I can’t say I am not best of friends with Minnox because we have never been friends before.
By the way I am not into loose argument with no bwoy.
We are original ghetto yutes with focus. We nuh bad minds neither grudge noone. I take music differently.
Many people claim that you are very connected to popular Jamaican stars who regularly visit you in the UK?
Without any doubt I have links with top Jamaican artistes from the veterans to the new ones.
Some of them are now my personal friends.
People now see artistes coming to Zimbabwe and don’t realise how hard I work to convince Jamaican artistes to go to Zimbabwe just the way I am representing my country in the Diaspora.
I always tell them good things about my country. I approached Mavado about coming to Zimbabwe and I was delighted when the great promoter Clint Robinson managed to bring him to Zimbabwe.
Clint deserves a lot of credit.
I also big up Farai Shambare and Elder Nhamo for representing Zimbabwe while they were based in Jamaica and how can we forget the late legendary selector Jah B aka Billiard or Bhiriyadhi
Are you related to General Oliver (Oliver tha General)? How good do you think he is?
General Oliver is my blood brother, he comes after me.
He is the manager of New Generation Sound. Oliver is the general in the DJ army; He is more than good.
He is a great leader and has managed to keep New Generation in shape for years while I am away in the United Kingdom. Many sound systems have collapsed due to mismanagement but ours is going stronger.
Do you run a sound system in the United Kingdom? How popular are you?
Yes I run New Generation Sound in the UK but it’s only that my name became bigger than my sound but we are doing great stuff.
Do you think Zimbabwean Sound Systems can compete with the best in the world?
Of course Zimbabwean Sound systems can compete with the best in the world.
The reason being that Zimbabwean sound or DJs are versatile.
Sounds of nowadays like Judgement Yard, Legendary, Fyah Lynx, Mighty Ducks, Mad House Sound…they are all very good.’’