Since its inception in the mid-2000s, the growing music genre afrobeats has rapidly spread from its humble West African beginnings to gaining worldwide recognition. A diverse fusion of British house music, hip hop, dancehall, soca, Jùjú music, R&B and many more styles, this distinct musical mixture has ushered in a new batch of international megastars.
Of these shining superstars in Zimbabwe-born artist Phatso. With sexy stylings that appeal to listeners from all corners of the globe, this multi-talented producer/singer is making a name for himself with his label Immaculate Music and infectious anthems “Dorime” and his latest release “Lola.”
Born Farai Matema in the bustling capital city of Harare, Phatso was heavily influenced by music at a very young age. His brother taught him how to play piano when he was only five years old, and he sang in church choir all through his childhood. Although it was evident that the young boy had undeniable musical talents, he was more focused on soccer as a kid.
One of his older brothers, Ralph Matema, is currently the reigning top scorer of the Zimbabwean CBZ Premier League after netting 19 times in the 2006 season. Young Farai was destined to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.
Playing football all through school, he didn’t take music seriously until he and his parents were in a terrible car accident that left Phatso unable to walk for three months. When he was finally able to walk again, he had another year of physical therapy to recover, and doctors said that even then, his future in football was bleak.
Bored out of his mind with nothing to occupy his time, he downloaded FL Studio computer program, began to make his own beats and recorded vocals on his cell phone. “If Kanye can do it, I can do it too,” he reasons.
He continued to perfect his music throughout high school and during his years as a student at Near East University located in the tiny island country of North Cyprus. There, he befriended DJ Simon Sayz, who gave Phatso an honest critique of his music.
“He liked the music. He said the beats sounded good, but the quality of the vocals was bad,” Phatso admits, “They would appreciate my beats, but my vocals were not clear because I was still learning how to put things together.”
To help the aspiring artist upgrade his music, Simon let Phatso borrow a real studio microphone and a mixer. He also linked up with a music producer in Zimbabwe named Quasar, who also showed Phatso how to mix and master his music to take it on another level of sound quality.
And in 2019, Phatso’s official debut single “Isabella” put him on the map. Over the next few years, he continued to drop hot singles such as “Chimoko Changu,” “Don’t Let Go” and “Plenty Plenty.”
He moved to the United States in 2021 and continued to feed his fanbase with great music. His latest single “Lola” is quickly gaining global recognition, and he is on the heels of releasing his much-anticipated, as-yet-untitled EP this summer.
“In my music, I mix aftrobeats with a little bit of dancehall and R&B. It’s my own flavor to it,” he describes. “On the production side, I know how to make all kinds of beats. I make hip hop, electro beats, gospel, dancehall. I do such a wide range of genres that I don’t even know what I’ll come with next.”