Eddie Black was born Nathaniel Edward Bangira Nchemba on April 29th, 1993, in Itezhi-Tezhi, a small town in the southern province where his mother Catherine Mutinta Nchemba worked as a nurse at the local hospital. “After some time, we moved to Lusaka, after my mum passed on, I moved in with my grandparents. My grandma is like my best friend, she is my biggest supporter!” He remembers his first award nomination in 2012 when he was nominated for the Zambian Born and Bred Awards. “My grandma took me to the salon to get my hair done and she made sure I looked nice for the award show.”
His love for hip-hop began when he was around the age of eight, “I used to listen to rap music from my uncle we grew up together and he used to listen to a lot of rap music. He had this Walkman and tapes and CDs of Ludacris and Ja Rule that he would let me listen to, that’s how I started rapping. The beauty of him making me listen to the content was that he would censor it for me, for example the song Move by Ludacris… my version was ‘move GIRL get out the way.’ That’s how I got into rap, and I’ve been rapping ever since.”
Eddie Black first appeared on the Zambian music scene in 2011 when he released What’s the Name of the Game after being discovered by Erasto. Later that same year he began working with renowned producer and now longtime collaborator Peezey Cables and launched a smash hit single Bangumfweko.
The recording studio has always been sanctuary for Eddie, “I think it’s my happy place, where I find peace because there’s so much chaos out there. When I’m in the studio, I feel at home… I am happiest when I am making music.” His process in the studio has slowly evolved, Eddie shares, “there was a time when I was inspired by other artists I knew the whole College Dropout album by Kanye West, and Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 by Young Jeezy. I would gather all this content right and I spent every day writing lyrics, based on what I knew.”
That all changed a few years ago, Eddie remembers, “after I watched the Jay-Z documentary Fade to Black things shifted. I saw Jay’s process, he was in Timberland’s studio, and they were making Dirt off Your Shoulders and Timbo says, ‘oh, this guy has like 20 to 30 raps in his head, and he just goes in the studio and starts rapping.’ That inspired me and I wanted to do that too and I prayed to God about it, asking him to help me do that too. I said to God, ‘if Jay Z can do it, I believe you’re bigger than Jay Z and you can help me do it too.’ From that point on I got to a place where I can go in the studio and find a beat that I like and just start rapping without writing down any content.”
2016 was a pivotal year for Eddie Black, caught in a bad place he was making music, but he wasn’t happy, and he was searching for something real. It was then that he turned to God and became a Born-Again Christian, “I began listening to pastors on YouTube. This one morning on the 16th of September, I was listening to Billy Graham on YouTube, and he mentioned something about the value of a soul. He said a soul is eternal, your soul never dies… your body can die but your soul never dies. Only you have a choice to decide where your soul lives after you have left earth, either heaven or hell.” That was when Eddie decided to give his life to Christ and immediately took down all the music that he had done before he found Christ.
Unlearning what he knew was not an easy journey, but he credits it with helping him become the man and artist he is today. Eddie happily shares, “Being a Christian has really shaped the music that I’m making today because it’s supposed to be based on what I’ve learned and also to help other people learn about this path that I’m walking on now.”
When asked if at any point along that journey especially when taking down his music he had any fears of losing what he had worked so hard for. Eddie proudly responds, “those thoughts will come to your mind but then you get to a place where you know that God has got you. It is no longer about whether you have the hottest song, it’s about what does God want me to do? I believe that he really wanted me to let go of this person that was broken and heal. It took time to put out new music because music is a spiritual thing, t’s something that comes from equilibrium and you’re sharing your life with others. I don’t want to put out music that does more harm than good.”
His current single out now is Catherine a beautiful tribute to his late mother and it features Peezey Cables. The song was produced by Peezey Cables at Mangishi Audio Studios, formerly Helium Prime Media. Eddie shares that the song is special to him because he wrote it for his late mother. Another collaboration with hit producer Peezey Cables, the process of making the song was organic. Eddie explains “After I created my first single Mystery man, I told him the next song was going to be about my mother. Peezey created the hook, he is an amazing writer, and he comes up with these beautiful lyrics. Peezey made the beat in my absence because he understands my sound and then he asked me what my mum’s name was and it took off from there.”
As for what’s next for Eddie Black, he has the idea of releasing an album with a good slow roll out. Likening it to a restaurant, he wants his audience to enjoy his work like a multi-course meal, releasing a few singles to build up to the album. He laughs, “you can expect a few more singles and videos before the full album drops.”