A Moment With… Tehn Diamond
His name is Tehn Diamond and he was born and raised in Harare. He refers to himself by the African moniker ‘son of the soil’ and as an avid student of the game of life.
A lot of you who have heard him will know him from his Student of the Game series, the last of which we reviewed on this website. What some of you may not know is that he is also a singer and a producer. The rapper refers to words as his ‘best friends’ and that he tries ‘to throw them a party at every chance he gets’.
A lot of his photos feature him with a microphone. When we alluded to his love for the mic, he responded, ‘[I love it] with all my heart sha’.
This is our moment with Tehn Diamond, in his own words
What is your government name ?
Tendai Nguni Snr. (Jnr. doesn’t exist yet . . . but I’m practicing.)
What do you like to call yourself ?
Hmm . . . Tehn ? I mean Tendai is cool and all . . . but I love calling myself by the name I chose and made for myself, its empowering. And while “no one man should have all that power” . . . I like to think I do.
What is the most ridiculous nickname you have ever had ?
Ario Dante . . . here’s the short story as to why . . . when I was 15 me and about 4 other friends decided to form a rap group. Let’s be clear here, at the time I couldn’t care less about rap and in fact I was a singer . . . Rao was weird, awkward and foreign to me. But, I liked being in a “gang” which is what our group pretty much became. We had to come up with names, I was in boarding school at the time, the boarding master was Italian and in to classical music . . . I woke past a poster for Handel’s opera “Ariodante” and for the next 3 or so years “Dante” became my nickname. I cringe at the thought now.
Which side of the bed do you sleep on ?
Left. Well its left, if you’re lying on your back. So yea, I sleep on the left side of my bed. Why ? It’s furthest from the doors that lead outside, its closest to my laptop and its directly in front of the bathroom door. Win. Win. Win. Also because, should a “lady friend” spend the night, well then, even in here sleep she can be “right” . . . as most women love to be. *insert sly laughter + charming grin here*
Are you left-handed or right-handed ?
I’m right-handed. And because I once read that left-handed folks are more naturally creative I grew up low-key resenting them, cos’ I wasn’t one of them and felt that to be what I always dreamed of being I’d have to learn how to write left-handed. I undertook this “switching of the hands” mission for about a week when I was 9yrs old. Needless to say, I got nowhere and just accepted my right-handed fate. *sigh*
What is your favourite instrument ?
I don’t play any instruments. But I’m head over heels in love with the guitar and the Mbira when Pauline or Chiwoniso play it. When it comes to my own songwriting, nothing beats a producer who knows what he’s doing on the ivories.
What is the first song you fell in love with ?
“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael . . . I was 2yrs old when it came out . . . living in the UK and mum says I’d stand in front of the TV and dance my little legs off . . . I even had a jacket similar to the one George Michael wears in the video . . . to this day that song does things to me. Pure bliss.
Best concert you have ever been to ?
October 27 2006 . . . Jay-Z came to Brisbane while I was studying there. He’s the only hip-hop I listened to growing up, in short, my hip-hop hero. It was the first concert I’d ever been to in my life . . . and also the day i decided once and for all that music was what I wanted to do with my life. Two months later I’d dropped outta university and begun work on my first mixtape. The rest . . . well . . . the rest is history yet to be written. But that night was powerful for me, I had on a black shirt that I’d gotten made a few days before, with a picture of Jay-Z’s first album cover on it and my name “Tehn Diamond” on the back . . . I held it up at one point during teh show and he pointed at me and said “I see you with the Reasonable Doubt shirt there . . .”
It was a wrap for me from there. I can’t wait to meet him.
Of the songs you have written which one is your favourite ?
“I Had A Dream” . . . beyond a shadow of a doubt that song there is the one for me. I’ve only ever performed it once, because the night I did perform it I barely made it through the whole song. I was fighting back tears the whole time. At the time, I was still very much living what I had written in it, and to try and be on stage with that vulnerability and realness of emotion was I guess too much too soon for me. To this day, I dare not do that one live. Its too visceral . . . it immediately takes me back to the little room I wrote it in, to the anger, to the sadness and pain of that moment . . . its one of the quickest songs I’ve ever written too. I played that beat and the words just poured out. It felt good, I mean it felt painful, but that track gave me wings and strength.
How do you deal with groupies ?
This issue of groupies sha, I honestly do not believe I have any yet. I know have female fans who really love what I do, but I don’t have the crazy all out throw your panties on stage groupies or anything. I try to be polite and charming, especially at shows, I’ll take photos and smile and hang out. I’m no superstar yet, I’m just a dude making a little noise . . . so I still know the value of every fan . . . groupie or not . . . male or female. I think where people assume I may have “groupies” is on these social networks, but even then I still just see myself as part of the general populous . . . I’m a bit of a flirt so I may chat to a cutie here or there. Other than that, nah I don’t have any groupies to “deal” with per se. I’m chillin.
How excited were you when the first groupie hollered at you ?
Ha ha ha ha sha Larry !!! Honestly, I’m not phased by attention like that. I still consider myself just a regular dude and still expect a certain kinda behaviour from a female. Its not attractive to me that a female likes me because of what I do or who she “thinks” I am. I’m a romantic, so its still really dope to chase after a girl and woo her and try get inside her mind. I enjoy all that. If anything . . . true groupie behaviour would just scare me. I’m all for keeping my composure.
Where is Zimbabwean music going ?
Nowhere if we don’t bridge the divide between the media and the musicians, as well as the gap between the corporates and the musicians. We need that money pouring in and we need a healthier relationship with our brothers and sisters in the media. But ultimately, Zimbabwean music is only going as far as the amount of support we as Zimbabwean people give it. And I don’t just mean blindly supporting anything that comes out, I mean passionately uplifting the true talent and being brave enough to hold the mediocre to higher standard when necessary.
Where is your music going ?
My music going around the world. My music is opening the doors that many don’t believe are open to us as young Zimbabweans. My music is leading a new wave of artists and creatives, to better harness the benefits of technology. My music is going as far as I push it to go. This is not to say that my music is the only music going these places, its just to say that I believe in my music and what it has done for me so far. I know plenty other musicians in Zimbabwe with the potential and drive to do the same, but I can only with an honest and open heart speak for the music that I myself have bled, sweat and cried for.
What do you want to be remembered for ?
I am one of the greats. And I want to be remembered for having said that and lived up to it, with no shame and no fear. Its a role I’ve spent many nights praying to play and one I humbly accept even before its given to me.