BABY PANNA: Inside The Mind of a Portsmouth Rapper

Creativity can be a difficult concept to think about. Simple moments of genius can change the future of a person’s career, their life, or even shape the way society evolves. From cavemen discovering fire 1.5 million years ago, to Mark Zuckerberg creating a little website called ‘TheFacebook’ in 2004, creation is the cornerstone of humanity and its through creation that we find our place in the world.

While these great strides in creation and seem so large in scope and impact, the process can at times seem daunting – especially to young people whose lives may not have granted them the ideal starting place. For a lot of creative hopefuls trying to become the next break out sensation in their field, taking the first step can be the hardest one of all; but in the case of 19-year-old rapper, Panashe Paradza, the desire to create has always been his driving force.

“I remember when I was younger. We were like 10 and people wanted to start a band in primary school and it got me really excited. I’d had like two guitar lessons three years before that so I just got so hyped […] That was a big part for me, just creating something that hadn’t been heard before.”

Paradza, known more commonly by his stage name ‘Baby Panna, grew up in Portsmouth after his family relocated from Zimbabwe, and while he may only be a newcomer in the rap scene he is definitely here to stay. From recording and releasing his earliest in complete secrecy, going so far as to hide everything he made from even his own mother, to joining fellow artist ‘Deeps’ at a headline show in the Portsmouth Guildhall on December 2nd.

Taking charge of one’s self can often be a massive task, especially when it comes to producing content and making it available for others. We live in a digital age where the ability to self produce and share has become easier than ever, so why doesn’t everyone give it a go? The rise of modern technology can make or break a person, and it seems to be that sense of openness that leads people to stay in their comfort zone.

In a sit down with Paradza, he explained his processes and mind-set towards making music – making it important to note that everything needed to be a self-reflection, although the style across his songs may seem varied at first, each tells a tale and describes a point in his life that he felt he could express through music.

“A lot of the rap game is authenticity, isn’t it? You don’t want to be rapping about something that someone’s gonna call you out on, cause it just takes away the impact of the music completely. Everything just has to be me. Y’know. My vibes, my energies. No one else.”

After finally deciding to reveal his music to the world, it quickly caught traction and Paradza found he could begin to explore different avenues with his passion. Recording in secret, and distributing his music through social media, he found that the work was easy but it took more time to find people to collaborate with. Until he discovered how powerful social media could be.

Whilst the lyrics to his songs are entirely his own, keen-eared producers may notice that a lot of his instrumentals are taken from YouTube. Free online beats are becoming more and more common for producers, as it allows them to put themselves out into the world and have their music found across a massive platform – while also allowing writers to browse a wide catalogue of sound to match their needs.

I pick my beats. Well they’re all YouTube beats really. Every track, every instrumental that was on the mixtape would be an instrumental I hear, and then I just know like ‘this is something I’m gonna write too’. […] Yeah, yeah. That happened for ‘Interlude’, to be fair. I remember I heard that instrumental for the song, and it was like 2 a.m. The song was done in an hour.”

This freedom to explore different sounds makes every song sound unique in its individuality, and allows Paradza to escape the common pitfall of new rappers of having an EP where each track is indistinguishable from themselves.

Paradza also manages to make a personal connection with each song – as the lyrics allow for a snapshot into his life through the words. This insight is almost palpable even in your first listen, as there’s a noticeable lack of bragging that some might come to expect from the rap genre. Each piece is humble in its own way, which only adds to the quality of the sound.

Taking the first step is always the hardest, and Baby Panna seems to be taking great strides towards becoming one of Portsmouth’s break-out stars.

Vibes and Energies’ out now.


Published by benarcherjones

My name is Ben Jones and I have a podcast too.

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