The Sunday Mail
BEATBOXING is an art form that would have easily been relegated to the periphery of the local music industry, had it not been for one particular individual.
He has been a beaming light to the craft.
While being on stage, mimicking beats and other instruments with one’s lips, tongue and voice might sound like a crazy career choice, Takudzwa Mashonganyika, popularly known as Probeats, has managed to do it with so much finesse and class, becoming a premium entertainer in the process.
He might not be on top of the pile in the local entertainment hierarchy, but his popularity cannot be questioned as he always manages to steal the show every time he takes to the stage to display his rare skills.
Be it a solo performance or a collaborative set, Probeats has mastered the art of capturing the audience’s attention, something that has made him a darling of many. The beatboxer’s prowess transcends international boundaries, with the artiste scooping eight gold medals at last year’s edition of the World Championship of Performing Arts, which were held in California.
Of late, he has also been showcasing his acting skills as he features in numerous social media comedy skits. Growing up in the high density suburb of Mufakose, there was minimal support from family and peers in terms of pursuing some of the things he loved doing, but the musical aspect stuck.
“I grew up in Mufakose, attending both my primary and secondary school in that same hood and this was an environment where people had very little faith in non-academic career choices,” said Probeats.
“In primary school I was a very good soccer player and also a part of the traditional dance club but while I loved sport, dance and percussion, I was discouraged from taking these seriously since they were seen as academic disturbances.”
While Probeats hung his soccer boots, the artiste in him remained intact. He tried his luck with hip-hop music, but with the culture not very popular among his peers, the discouragement did not help. Dancehall music was a more popular genre in his circles and most aspiring artistes were taking that route. lt was through his interactions with some of them that his real talent would be discovered.
“I wanted to be a rapper but you know that in the ghetto when you try to rap in English, people will say you are trying to be American and I was told that I wouldn’t succeed because of my accent so I ended up quitting.
“Some of my friends, however, would come up with dancehall songs. Back then we didn’t have boom boxes or portable music players to walk around with, I ended up being the one creating the instrumentals with my voice.
“As time went on, some people started appreciating the way I was creating these sounds and it encouraged me to continue practicing.”
After falling short of obtaining five O-Level subjects, poverty prevented him from having another go in the classroom.
He therefore continued honing his beatboxing skills.
In 2012, he entered the Starbrite competition and that was the turning point in his career after he managed to scoop the top prize in the special talent category.
This opened many doors for the young man as he started getting opportunities to perform at various events, thereby putting him on the spotlight.
“During the Starbrite competition, I noticed that many people were impressed and enjoyed beatboxing and after I won my category, I realised that this could actually be my career calling. More opportunities started coming my way as I started performing at high-profile events, including at Hifa that same year.”
Probeats has not looked back since then.
He has grown to become a star in an industry that does not give freebies. Sharing the stage with major international acts like Romain Virgo, embarking on European tours, winning major international silverware and scholarships, among other achievements, Probeats has simply been living the dream.
“I remember the days when I had to explain to people what beatboxing was all about before I started performing because it was an unknown art form but these days, the fan base for the art has grown significantly.
“While I usually perform at corporate events, weddings and other private functions, my name has also been popping up on some of the major events that take place.” With some money in his pocket, the 23-year-old has decided to take himself back to the classroom to try and beef up his academic certificates.