Zimbabwean musician Takura Shonhai, known simply as Takura, a.k.a. Mr. Okay Okay Okay, is making waves locally and internationally with his eclectic fusion of sound and relatable lyrics.
While many might categorise him as a hip-hop artist, he prefers to not put himself in the proverbial box and creates multi-genre musical projects based on his frame of mind.
“When it comes to music I have no box or barriers. I do what I want, what I’m feeling. Sometimes I want to sing trap because I’m in that mood, sometimes I want to sing about love because that’s what I’m feeling, and it’s just music, spiritual music.”
Takura brings a type of sincerity to music that is mostly reserved for soul music and tells Nkwazi that it’s important for artists to talk about real experiences because of the influence they have.
“I struggled with so many things growing up such as depression and being broke so there’s always a lesson in each and every one of my songs. I just worked hard and I’d like people to know that it’s possible. Most artists don’t show the other side, I want to help people out there to show them that it’s real.”
Born in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, Takura became a household name with his debut solo single ‘Zino Irema.’The song came following the disbandment of his group Soul Africa, a musical trio of which he was a founding member and lead vocalist.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be a hit. I like to be realistic. Most of the stuff that I make is something that I’m going through. I wasn’t planning on doing trap at first. I was planning on doing Afro-pop songs. Then ‘Zino Irema’just went viral. After that I was really shocked because I wasn’t ready. I’m used to being in the background. It was a rollercoaster. I was shocked but at the same time happy,” he reveals.
Takura attributes his talent to his mum’s side of the family stating that they have beautiful voices, whilst his dad’s side of the family has geniuses.
“I used to hide my talent because growing up my mum didn’t want me to pursue music. She wanted me to be like a doctor or something. So my family only found out that this is what I do in 2012. When he listened to ‘It’s Okay Not To Be Okay’(off the 2020 project, Star Signs) my brother said he never thought I’d be a singer. He was shocked. In 2013 when I did a song called ‘Handidi’ with Soul Africa I decided this is what I’m going to do.”
He explains that though his family wasn’t initially keen about his decision to pursue music, they eventually came around after he became a household name.
In his music, Takura tells his life story and experiences and expresses gratitude for everything that has happened in his life.
“I’ve had to learn with age that I don’t need to regret anything, because those experiences made me who I am today. When I first dropped ‘Zino Irema,’ within a month I was already going to Cyprus, I only had one song to perform but I went to the UK, and Australia. I had never been on a plane before and the one thing that put me on a plane was music and it might be nothing to someone who’s had that life but I had never had that life.
My dad died when I was young and my parents couldn’t do that for me because of life but I was able to do that for myself. To think that people were willing to fly me out to the UK to perform and the club was fully packed with people who had come to see me. People don’t understand how deep that is.”
He tells me that his first job was as a gardener and that making music has been surreal as it’s led him to meet some of the biggest and most important people.
Takura’s musical concepts go beyond a typical rags to riches story and in his EP Relationship Goals he employs many lessons that he has learnt growing up with his mum and five sisters.
“Growing up with women helped me learn how to treat them right. My mum was one of those strong women, the tough love kind. She taught me a lot. I learnt that I need to respect women, how to talk to women, and about all the little things that seem like they don’t matter. And with my music, it’s helped me because when I’m talking about love I know how women feel.”
His latest offering Star Signs was birthed in August 2020 and talks about the makings of a star, with each of the 12 tracks representing a different star sign.
“All the tracks have different styles such as trap, Afro-pop, and reggae. I think it’s important for artists to express themselves. Especially in Africa, most artists don’t express themselves because of the culture, but they need to learn to be free to be their authentic selves.”
He says that 2021 is a space for more evolution and growth.
“As long as I’m alive, every day I’m creating something. I like a challenge. I like to evolve. You can hear the maturity over time in my projects and I feel that I have so much to give.”