Maseru – For a man sired by one of Zimbabwe’s most famous folkloric music composers, Draze (born Dumisani Maraire Jr) is indeed the proverbial apple that did not fall far from the tree.
Draze is the son of the legendary ethnomusicology expert Dumisani Abraham Maraire, the man who took the traditional mbira instrument to the world. Draze is also the younger brother of the late Chiwoniso Maraire, one of Zimbabwe’s finest songstresses of the 21st century.
Based in Seattle in the United States, Draze is scoring music for Hollywood productions and has been doing so for five years now.
“Last year alone I had over 100 placements on different shows and commercials,” said Draze this week. “I have written music for shows like The Voice, Love and Hip-Hop, Empire, and All American on Netflix, Ballers on HBO, and several others. Most recently, I had a placement on the Netflix show Who Killed Sara, which was one of the top programmes in the world.”
Draze remembers watching his late father perform in packed venues in the US, and from that time he knew he wanted to get into music. “My earliest memories of music were going to these packed-out halls in Seattle, Washington where my father was up on stage killing these crowds. Everyone was sweating and dancing, it was really a sight to see.”
He went on: “I can’t really pinpoint the age where I started playing marimba, mbira, or drums, I just know that the music was always there. I was the baby in the family and all of my older siblings played, so as soon as I was able, I started playing too. Not because I wanted to be great or anything, I just didn’t want to be left out.
“Hip-hop didn’t come into my life until some years later but when it did, I fell in love and new it was something the lane for me.
“Being a Maraire is interesting. It just feels like the music is in our blood and once you touch it you can’t stop. I learned so much from my father, he was truly a musical genius. When giants like him and Chiwoniso blaze a trail, I don’t feel any pressure to live up to them at all, that would be impossible. I just want to make them proud and do my part to carry on the legacy. Sure, people in society are always going to have something to say but I don’t pay any attention to that,” Draze said.
And just like his father and sister who had distinct Zimbabwean sounds, Draze too has that touch.
His latest track, Born To Win, is a collaboration with Kenyan trumpeter Owuor Arunga and his cousin KingdZashe.
“It is the first release off of my upcoming album to be released this summer. With this track, I wanted to create a hip-hop sound that also felt traditional at the same time. I could have made a trap record but I wanted to give the world a taste of where I’m from. So, I created this new sound called Ancestral Art and Born To Win is a part of that…
“Owuor is like a young Hugh (Masekela) on the trumpet and KingdZashe’s voice is butter so the collaboration just made sense.”
Draze thinks the time for Zimbabwean music to conquer the world is nigh.
“It’s all about timing and working together. We’re stronger together than we are apart. I also don’t think we need to change our sound to conform to what the world is doing. We just need to do what we do, support one another and force the world to pay attention. Everything about our Shona culture is dope. We just need to stay true to who we are, work together and the entire world will come knocking at our doorsteps,” Draze said.