I met Mutaurwa Mapondera (a.k.a. "Foretold") 2 years ago, when my colleague Zach Papale, who knows more about college bands than anyone ever, played me his music. "Foretold," as he's known in hip-hop circles, was a student at UNC--Chapel Hill, and was already blowin' up inside mtvU's incubator for emerging artists, "Best Music On Campus." Mutaurwa's from Zimbabwe, speaks like 5 languages, and is one of the most brilliant college kids you'll ever meet. His music is characterized by a vulnerable honesty conveyed through deep observations and fluid storytelling. As a producer, he specializes in soulful, idiosyncratic pieces incorporating diverse samples and live instrumentation. Mutaurwa stopped by today and dropped some knowledge right here in my office in Times Square, right in the middle of the day. I whipped out my Flip and shot him in action, trying to keep my hand steady as he blew me away with his freestyle. I don't know how this kid does it, but it makes me feel like I must have slept through my poetry school MFA. Here's a love poem from Mutaurwa... here. More about Mutaurwa, from his Best Music On Campus page... The youngest son of a member of Zimbabwe’s diplomatic corps, Mutaurwa “Foretold” Mapondera would see all four corners of the globe before his 18th birthday. His mother’s occupation would see the family shift around the globe and the young Mutaurwa would end up calling Belgium, Zimbabwe, Botswana, India and Germany home before he graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004. While frequent movements were trying on Foretold socially, they would allow him to see and experience people, places and cultures that most only encounter on the Discovery Channel. While some may have taken these experiences for granted, and let them wash over them, F.O.R.E noted the differences between the various nations he called home and was especially affected by the depths of poverty that he witnessed in Africa and Asia. Even as a child, Foretold was markedly analytical and the situations he encountered nurtured these tendencies as the quiet youth developed into an introspective poet. “Seeing so much at such a young age really shapes you and I feel like I was confronted with a lot of truths that most people my age have yet to encounter, if they ever do.” The other vital component to Foretold’s character is his family. Even though she raised her two boys by herself, Foretold’s mother was the guiding light in the soft-spoken MC’s development and he constantly sites her as “his hero, inspiration, best friend, everything.” The birth of his nephew in 2002 was a life-changing event as the adolescent lyricist was pushed into the role of father figure, a role he explores on a track that attempts to explain the death of his Nephew’s 5-year-old cousin from AIDS.
Last week's performance in my office by MTV News' Benjamin Wagner has become a pretty popular post on Something Burning. Seems like people enjoy his music as much in a video square on the interweb as we all did hearing it live. So I thought I'd post another song he did for us that day. It's his cover of "Wonderwall" by Oasis. Classic song, not easy to cover, but I love his interpretation and how he speeds it up. Benjamin's upcoming live shows. Click here to read Benjamin's blog. And click here to see what Benjamin does when he's not playing guitar and singing.
Turns out, when he's not running MTV News, Benjamin Wagner writes and performs music. In fact, he's already got a few indie albums out. Benjamin took a break from breaking news and whatnot, and he came over for a visit just now. My meeting was ending, so Ben picked up a guitar and jammed for us. Check out Ben... Here's an original... Robin Katz, in our music department, who was working from home today. here Check out Benjamin's website here Catch Benjamin live at the following upcoming shows: Rockwood Music Hall (New York, New York) August 13th, 2009 - 9:00 pm Iowa State Fair (Des Moines, Iowa) August 16th, 2009 - 12:00 pm Rockwood Music Hall (New York, New York) October 17th, 2009 - 5:00 pm