THE turn of the millennium saw the rise of a music genre that later came to be known as urban grooves. The music was dominated by love compositions, that sounded so much like western pop.
Urban grooves at some point became the soundtrack of the day after the 75% local content policy on the airwaves was enforced by the government.
This also gave rise to backroom studios, resulting in computer-generated music. A number of young musicians, like the duo of Extra Large, made up of Jimmy Mangezi and Norman Manwere, emerged on the music scene.
As among the pioneers of urban grooves music in Zimbabwe, Extra Large, also popularly known as “Maroja”, dominated the airwaves with several hit tracks such as Uri Roja, Kushamula Newe and Kabhasikoro, among others.
The Highfield-based outfit has a new album — Abnormal Load, released two days ago. The new offering is their 12th album in their near two-decade musical career. NewsDay Life & Style caught up with Mangezi to talk about their musical journey.
“Funny as it might sound, Norman and I met at kindergarten, although we grew up in the same area in Highfield. We went to the same primary and secondary schools and at some point, we would be in the same class.
“So there came a time, you know people say when you grow up together, you might look alike. We became on the same level and very close up to the point of having the same thoughts even when we were not together. We became like twins and we act like twins.
“It is music that met through us, not that we met through music. This is one of the reasons we are still here as a musical group because Norman and I are childhood friends.
“So as childhood friends, growing up together, obviously we had different hobbies here and there, but as we were growing up, we tried to eliminate those pastimes that could not keep us together.
“For instance, I loved soccer and would play a lot, I then realised that Norman was not much of a soccer fan although he tried, so as close friends, we then got to let go of soccer, which was splitting us a lot.
“So, we had to eliminate those hobbies that were not mutual to both of us and opt for the ones that were favourable to both of us and it so happened that music was one of them.
Taking music seriously
“When we discovered that music was a mutual hobby, that is when we decided to take it up professionally in 2004.
“We took it as something that would make us be together. We used to go to work and by coincidence, we ended up working for the same company.
“At times when we were returning from work, we would see those up-and-coming artists of that time and would remind ourselves that we used to sing at school, so why don’t we try it.
“So, it is not actually that one of us tried it separately, but we tried this together and when it worked out, it worked for both of us.
“As much as we are close, our preferences at some points are different, for instance, soccer teams that we support. As much as I loved playing soccer, it did not necessarily mean Norman did not have a soccer team he supported.
“Internationally, Norman supports Manchester United and I am a Liverpool fan. Locally, he is a Caps United fan and I am a Dynamos fan.
“We have a lot of things where we have different tastes. Even in music, we have different tastes and listen to different musicians.
“We love the same genre, which is dancehall like reggae. Growing up his favourite was General Degree while Beenie Man even up to date is my favourite.
“As much as we like different artists, we prefer the same genre. We might favour different soccer teams, but we all like soccer. We might like the same thing, but they just differ on the specifics.
“I think trust is an understatement, I trust Norman with my life, he is another me. He is the kind of person who can make serious decisions on my behalf and I can be okay with that.
“I trust he makes better decisions on my behalf.
Finding each other
“As we grew up, we got to know our differences, so we promised each other that we were not going to use our weaknesses as the next person’s strength.
“We know how to work around our different challenges because we experienced several challenges while growing up.
Most memorable experience shared
“Our most memorable experience together would be the interesting things we did together. For instance, boarding a train and travelling internationally together.
“We once asked ourselves while on a train in the United Kingdom that had we continued working at the company we used to work, were they going to offer us this opportunity to go to England?”