Sweet sugarcane farmer’s mixes at Replay Lounge

ZJ Heno on the decks during a past reggae concert in 2018. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

You just know you are out of your depth when you find yourself in a club where the rasta deejay wears sunglasses the whole time. And when you inquire who that Deejay is (because he’s really skilled), you are told, that’s ZJ Heno. Nobody around your table knows what ZJ stands for.

This was all happening on Saturday at Replay Lounge, third floor of Boardwalk Mall, Parklands. It’s a massive lounge with great large windows and an irrepressible spirit. Lots of younger folk, but then again folk seem to be getting younger when you are getting older.

ZJ Heno was so impressive I Googled him and it turned out he’s the founder of Empire Sounds, a famous reggae outfit. In 2010 he was joined by more DJs; DJ Parto, Hanif, and an MC called MC Teargas who sounds like someone you would meet and you’d be so puzzled by their big character you’d not say a word. Google also informed me that ZJ Heno is a sugarcane farmer in Migiro. Whoever this man was, he struck me as someone who never shakes anyone’s hand, just fist pumps through life and says, “Bless up.”

As his talent crescendoed on the deck, it slowly dawned on me that this fellow was not just a guy who played music. He was a person of interest in the reggae/dancehall landscape. This was also reinforced by the fact that he had a crew at the next table. Of course, he had a crew; lions roll around in a Pride.

He played terrific music right up to around midnight where a second deejay took over and successfully killed the momentum. It was time for us to go home. Great lounge all the same, with a great experience. Did I mention the uber ventilation?

Sometimes you have such a good night at a bar but when you get to bed a niggling feeling about the evening sometimes lingers: Where have I met the guy who said hello in the washroom? Can a small coin fit into that waitress’s dimple? What the hell does “ZJ” mean?

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