Zim-born Wonder Gang Assimilated to the U.S. Through a Deep Love of Hip-Hop

By dallasobserver.com

As Dallas was covered in snow and ice last month, rap duo Wonder Gang coincidentally dropped an icy hip-hop banger. “Ice Cola” is a jolly, opulent trap track, filled with raunchy sexual innuendos and allusions to alcoholic drinks.

Brothers T.K. Savage, 21, and Keith Wonder, 28, formed Wonder Gang in 2016. They originally pitched “Ice Cola” to Houston singer Don Toliver after getting in touch with a representative from Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack label. While meeting with a label sounds daunting, the brothers recall their meeting as pleasant and “family-oriented.”

“A very small part of that was about business deals and all that stuff,” Wonder says. “Most of it was like ‘How’s your family? What’s been going on? Where are you guys from? Tell us more about yourselves.’”

“Ice Cola” didn’t end up making the final tracklist for Don Toliver’s 2020 album Heaven or Hell, so Wonder Gang kept the song for themselves, later making it their proper debut single.

The brothers were born and raised in Zimbabwe and grew up on the sounds of Buju Banton and Bob Marley. When he was in second grade, Wonder won his school’s talent show by lip synching and dancing with friends.

Savage and Wonder immigrated to the U.S. when Wonder was 14 and Savage was 8. Wonder created the Keith Wonder moniker when he was 15 after discovering Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Jay-Z.

“Keith being my older brother, I kind of just consumed everything that was around me,” Savage says. “He [started] earlier with making music before I did. I was producing, and that led to me learning how to rap from watching him.”

To learn how to make their own music, the brothers studied American hip-hop meticulously. They watched hours of YouTube videos to learn how to produce and engineer audio. While navigating the U.S. as immigrants is difficult, Wonder Gang says their love of hip-hop quickly helped them find their niche.

“Anybody can feel music, so it’s pretty cool to go from not having English as our first language to creating something that everybody around the world is going to love and appreciate.” –T.K. Savage

“When you move to a new country, you don’t know anyone,” Wonder says. “You have to make new friends. You have to learn the language, learn the ways, learn the traditions and learn the different types of cultures to experience in America. America is a conjunction of a lot of cultures, but it also has its own way of life. It was very challenging at the beginning, but I think we adapted pretty well.”

“When you first come here, you have an accent, and you’re just trying to fit into society,” Savage adds. “But then you realize, you just have to be yourself.”

Wonder Gang is in the process of recording a self-titled EP, which is set for release later this year. Additionally, as “Ice Cola” takes off, they hope to partner with a cola company, make donations to Black universities and help provide third-world countries with masks and gloves.

Wonder Gang will soon begin composing music for the upcoming second season of HBO’s queer-centric skater drama Betty.

“I don’t want to spoil too much,” Wonder says. “But you can learn a lot from [Betty] about accepting everybody, loving yourself and not having to feel judged. We’re grateful to be part of that.”

As immigrants in America, the duo wants to help contribute to Dallas’ quick rise in the national hip-hop scene and hope to use their music to reach people all over the world while giving back.

“We’re making music that people can relate to in America,” Savage says. “Music is such a universal language. Anybody can feel music, so it’s pretty cool to go from not having English as our first language to creating something that everybody around the world is going to love and appreciate.”

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