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A chance encounter in a Los Angeles cab led the British Zimbabwean singer to his first recording contract – and critical acclaim. He talks about the politics behind his funky R&B
Popstar ascents have become so predictable – unknown guest on dance track later re-emerges as a solo act – that it’s easy to be cynical of more elaborate backstories. And Kwaye’s is fairly eyebrow-raising. Within the first week of a year studying abroad at UCLA, the Zimbabwe-born, London-raised student met a producer who offered him some discarded tracks. In one day, Kwaye wrote a song called Cool Kids, about a generation creating its own culture.
Then he found himself in an Uber driven by “a former music industry exec”, and played him the song. The driver soon texted saying that a friend who ran an indie label wanted to meet. He picked Kwaye up and took him to the offices of Mind Of A Genius, where founder David Dann offered Kwaye free studio time, and signed him later that year.