King 98 in Davido’s orbit

The Sunday Mail

Zion Divaris

The name King 98 or his music do not ring a bell to many, except for a few music-heads out there, .

Yet, this relatively unknown entity is being spoken of in the same line with one of Africa’s serial hit-makers – Davido.

King 98 and Davido’s collaboration, No Bad Vibes, drops simultaneously on Zimbabwean and Nigerian radio stations tomorrow.

The young rapper, who turns 21 on Tuesday, also features South African rap superstar, Nasty C, on his forthcoming album, Francesca, due for release on April 27 at the HICC in the capital.

King 98, who has just opened a new chapter at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, where he is pursuing a degree in Music and Arts, has already shared the stage with Nasty C, Winky D and DJ Silence Dosh both in Zimbabwe and abroad.

The million dollar question is; who the heck is this boy and what spell did he cast on Davido to get a collaboration?

“What happened was that Davido’s personal assistant, Aloma, heard a song I made when I was with Ali Keys my producer. He then insisted that Davido would love the song if he listened to it. So, after Davido heard the song we found ourselves in the studio recording,” said King 98, emphasising that it was the art and nothing else that caught the attention of the Nigerian mega-superstar.

“Davido is a humble person, he invited me to his house in Nigeria and he showed me around Lagos and he wants to push me so that I can be big in Nigeria,” he added.

It is easy, rather tempting to dismiss the young rapper, born Ngonidzashe Dondo, as another privileged kid busy playing mahumbwe (kiddy games) with what other people consider to be lifetime professions.

History has shown that Zimbabweans love the rags-to-riches story; the moment one appears to be getting ahead based on their wallet rather than talent or skill, they are immediately cast aside.

Another Dondo, Sam, whose music is a collector’s item, has suffered immeasurably because of this. Sam has three albums that carry great solo tunes with well-thought out lyrics and collaborations with some of Zimbabwe’s finest artistes, but he has struggled to penetrate the local market.

The failure is not because the music is weak, but because of the attitude of the listeners. The risk is that the latest Dondo find could fall into the same trap.

“Never, it won’t happen,” declares the young man’s handler DJ Sims.

“King 98 is so talented the world is going to find him hard to resist. We have also been working the local market slowly such that we believe that by releasing this single with Davido, we are almost where we envisioned our artiste by the time he launches a full album.

“We are using a multi-pronged approach. We have people in Nigeria led by Frank and we are currently in talks with a top South African marketer to push in South Africa where, Defeat, is doing well. The album itself, Frascesca, will be launched in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria,” said a confident DJ Sims.

King 98’s mainstream music debut was with the single, Defeat, on MTV Base in July last year. But when he shared the stage with Nasty C in Harare a few weeks later, he shocked many with a solid performance where he rocked the crowd with songs like Man Dem, Duce and Flex.

Born on January 15 1998, King 98 went to Eastridge Primary School, Watershed College, Riverton Academy and Sandon Academy on his way to completing his A-Levels. Although his parents knew about his musical inclination and the ‘secret’ projects, they kept him away from showbiz until he completed high school.

His father, Impala Car Rental boss, Thompson Dondo, plays the guitar and writes music but has never recorded. He says music runs in the blood and it is no surprise that his younger brother Sam and his son King 98, decided to take up music professionally.

At the moment, he is behind one of the most promising music award ceremonies ever, the Star FM Music Awards, which are set to be held on January 25 at Zimbali Events and Lifestyle Centre in Greendale.

King 98, who roped in top producers Ali Keyz, GT Beats and Gemini Major, says he is inspired by Asap Rocky, Davido, Drake and Cassper Nyovest. He wants to be an inspiration to others the same way he has been inspired by the aforementioned idols.

“I chose this genre because I can fully express who I am and it gives me the desire and passion to keep fighting for success.

“I see myself being a powerhouse in African music. I want my life and music to inspire everyone around me. I want them to know that dreams can come true and that God is in control. No matter what people say, keep pushing,” he said.