Born Ndzabaletimnandzi Mngomezulu, R.K is one of eSwatini’s underground rappers. The young wordsmith is not new to the industry with over 10 projects under his name. R.K mentions winning the Francophonie 2015 Rap Competition which led to him performing at the Bush Fire Festival in the same year and performing at numerous events in the city of Shenyang, China as well as some of the highlights of his career.
The Cool EP Vol.1 is more of alternative/chill hip hop with some really cool samples here and there, layered into a pretty solid offering, with R.K rapping like his life depends on it. “What motivated this release was where I was in my life, and musically. I felt inspired and energised to approach and create a body of work in a way I never have, which was exciting and liberating,” he explains what motivated the release of the EP.”I’m forever looking at ways to express myself and grow in my craft, so the desire to grow was also and still remains a major part of why I make new music”, he elaborates.
At the core The Cool EP is about finding yourself, loving yourself, and being yourself. Allowing yourself to be you and do you. It’s about honesty and growth. All of this presented into a vibe of a project.” I’ve been describing it to myself as “head in the clouds” type music. You kinda end up drifting when you listen to it”, he briefly shares about the EP.
Antidote Indie is a subsidiary of eSwatini top underground music label Antidote Music, and recently came through with another banger of note. This time around it is an amazing freestyle from by famed eSwatini based hip hop extraordinaire, Grixxly (formerly known as Young Grixxly), entitled Energy Freestyle. On this freestyle Grixxly flexes, showing his production skills and proves that he can spit fire and is definitely coming for for the throne. After dropping a stellar verse on Mzwaa’s D.F.W.M song, we were all looking forward to hearing more of Grixxly and he has definitely delivered. Accompanied by a stunning lyric video by Unicornindickies, this drill beat freestyle is a dawn of a new era for the kingdoms hip hop and rap scene.
Born Madoda Nsibandze, Oxygen is eSwatini’s latest hip hop sensation who has taken the industry by storm. Nationally known as “The Sensational Oxygen”, the rising star has won over the hearts of many with his charismatic, abstract and show-stopping performances. With the moniker adopted from his high school days, Oxygen aims at giving life through his music and art.
“My music is inspired by the emotional side of daily life on an abstract basis” he explains the inspiration behind the music. “To think and feel outside of the box but still be able to relate to what some may feel about a situation and all its factors” he elaborates. Oxygen’s music is timeless in its lyricism and musicality. With a mixed balance of calming progressions, soothing harmonies yet energetic articulation, Oxygen gives listeners across all age groups something to jam to with the ability to modernize an old school sound. Proving his diversity with every record he releases; the world class performer fits perfectly into any genre or sound he tackles yet still maintaining his authenticity.
Briefly tell us who is Oxygen? Oxygen is a hip-hop performing artist who believes in and promotes positive living through his music. He considers the stage his home and transforms when he jumps on it, thus the title “The Sensational”.
What or who made you fall in love with music? Oxygen was born into a musical family where his father and mother were choir conductors in the award-winning Melodious Voices Chorale, which has now been dissolved. Music has always been a part of Oxygen that one may say he is music.
Take us through your song making/writing process? Oxygen’s song writing process starts with coming up with a melody according to the feeling within him that he is trying to instil in the listener. Meditating on it, he then blends vocals according to the story or concept of the song then the lyrics flow. Magical experience.
In 2019 you were involved in the first MTN Spotlight competition, take us through that journey ? The journey through the MTN Spotlight competition was an emotional one but very educational. Emotional because you just never knew what was going to happen or who was going to get voted out after giving each round your best efforts. Very educational because it taught ‘The Sensational’ not to crack under the pressures of the competition, especially because he had to write memorise and perform his original songs each week. All round amazing experience.
What effect did the competition have on your career? The competition definitely jumpstarted Oxygen’s career because of the quality of the stage performances. Many people followed the competition because they would support their favourite competitors and stumbled upon ‘The Sensational’ and many other amazing talents. The MTN Spotlight competition made the top 3 finalists shine on the night of the finale and that set us all on the way to becoming who we needed to be.
You most recent release is a song entitled “Phree” featuring Zoe Genesis, briefly tell us about that song? The single ‘Phree’, made with The African Rockstar Zoë Genesis, is an amazing jam to be featured on because of who Oxygen is featured with. The working environment was great with energies in synchrony from the beginning
How did this collaboration come about? She approached Oxygen with a concept of a love inspired song for summer and he immediately loved the potential of it. It was also a way of showing what else Oxygen had in store other than just rapping. Beautiful experience.
2019 was an amazing year for you, what was your highlight? 2019 was a Sensational year for Oxygen and the highlight for him came courtesy of the 2019 MTN SWAMA Awards ceremony. Oxygen was set to perform and when he entered the stage, he got a standing ovation without having said anything. This indeed was the best moment for ‘The Sensational’ in 2019.
Can we expect a full body of work from you this year? Most definitely. Oxygen has a new single out titled ‘Come Closer’ which dropped on the 2nd of February 2019 and is available on all major online music stores such as iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and more.
Locally and internationally what is your dream collabo? Locally, Oxygen’s dream collaboration is with Nomalungelo Dladla. She is a beautiful singer and performer. However, KrTc of Hip Hop is not far down the list. Internationally, Drake would best suit the sound and style of Oxygen for a feature.
What are some of the difficulties that you have faced as an artist and how have you overcome them? One difficulty was having to quickly learn how to deal with the pressure of the expectations of Oxygen. Another was proving to family why music was the correct decision for Oxygen. However, dealing with the pressure contributed to the quality of the music and the fire behind each performance.
What is some of the best advice you have received from anyone in the music scene or beyond? The best advice came in the form of a statement by KrTc of Hip Hop saying “Nothing changes if nothing changes”. To better the situation you are in, you must change either your approach or what do entirely for what you want to change to start changing. Best advice ever.
Where can potential ‘fans-to-be’ get access to your music? Anyone and everyone can access my music on all online music stores.
MotherLand X is one of eSwatini’s music label which is always pushing boundaries and elevating local artists. In the recent months they have been hosting a social Sunday event called Pop Sunday which has been well received by the youth. Since its inception, MotherLand X was founded with the main aim of shining a light on producers. “Producers are clearly undervalued all over the world yet they do most of the work behind the scenes”, Rendition (co-founder) explains MLXs background. Inspired by movements like Soulection which highlight the importance of celebrating producers and giving them the same respect as artists. In its 5th year since inception MLX has grown in leaps and bounds and has elevated eSwatini’s music scene with some of their notable achivements being featured on a number of international projects – with the most recent being Rendition on uSanele’s mixtape, DJ Ohpis perfoming at the Luju Food & Lifestyle Festival, hosted DJ Shimza in December, unearthing new talent – Remedy (one to watch) being the most recent and countless other achievements.
MLX has grown to be a collective of not just producers but an entire spectrum of the creative industry (DJs, photographers, artists, fashion designers, videographers etc). King of the Boards is a new concept show in collaboration with Deck Life Events. The event is called Social Saturday Beer Garden spear-headed by DJ Mkay and it will be hosted at the Albert Millin. With an outdoor upmarket setting, young and diverse crowd this is set to be one of the popular events in the capital city. King of the Boards will be a segment which will feature two local producers to compete against each other. “The challenge to the producers is to captivate a crowd of over 500 people with their beats with the crowd deciding on the eventually winner” Rendition explains the concept. “The battle will be broken down into three rounds, with each producer playing a beat for 2 minutes per round and then the crowd decides on the winner” he elaborates. Each round will test the producers ability to grab the crowds attention considering three different elements.
This new initiative will profile the kingdoms hidden talent and give producers the same platform and respect that artist get. Performances and deejay sets have been scheduled in between the rounds to keep the crowd entertained. With the ultimate goal of this concept is giving bedroom/budding producers the chance to showcase their talent and open doors for mentorship or even collaborations.
Swazi Jive entertainment is back with another superb to kick start the year. At the beginning of 2019 the had their first ever cypher which was well received and saw the president of Swazi Jive also drop some bars. The 2020 cypher is fresh and flaming hot, from the setting of the video to the Wigo produced beat and crazy bars spit by the lads. The cypher features Luci Gang Child, OG King, Jurie, Jody Brown, Able Klein and Steez One of my favourite things about this cypher is the beat produced by Welile Wigo Mthethwa, the beat has a lo-fi feel with some incredible samples put all together into the perfect freestyle beat any rap would love. Major credit also goes to all the rappers featured on the cypher, their delivery and breath control was just impeccable with the end product being nothing short of sensational and their lyrical content was on point with room for improvement. A major shoutout to DIREKTOR ALPHA and Focus Tales TI who snapped on the visuals. The visuals are fresh and clean with the setting blending perfectly with the grimy yet lo-fi beat and hard delivery from the rappers(who are trying to prove a point), encapsulating the whole concept of a cypher. This is a great way to start the year by Swazi Jive after a silent 2019 and an exodus of most of their artist. Credit to all the rappers featured on the cypher, we hope to see and hear more from them.
Following is stellar debut release The Parcel EP, Parcel proved that he is here to stay and give us more stunning releases. He is now back with another EP, and has brought the heat once again. His afro sound is the type you can’t get enough off with some crazy yet touching bass line. On the opening song Ekhaya flexes with a lead guitar which will have you playing an invisible lead guitar and every hair in your body standing up because of this heavy and groovy bass line with a touch of shadow voices. The second song is entitled Music Is Life and is also another stunning jam fusing a number of elements but focusing more on a standout bass line, making you dance by force. This is the kind of afro house you can expect in those Ibiza parties.
The eSwatini International Trade Fair (EITF) aims to promote eSwatini’s goods and services; develop links between eSwatini and international businesses, provide business exposure and promote development of small and medium enterprises. The two week long fair also gives a platform to local and international musicians to showcase their talent. The eSwatini Investment Authority (EIPA) partners with the Swaziland Arts and Music Association (SWAMA) and Association of Christian Artists in Swaziland (ACASWA) to handle the musical side of the trade fair.
The main attraction for musicians is the business seminar. “There is a great need for artists to transform their informal ‘hustle’ into formal processes that can be quantified” SWAMA president shares about the business seminar. “It is high time the music industry’s contribution to the economy gets quantified, and the only way that can happen is when artists themselves, get formal training on managing their music and brands as a business” he adds.
Artists are business people, they are employers, they are creatives and most importantly they have a product or skill to sell. This business seminar will equip artists in aspects that are necessary to advancing their careers and in turn make money through their talents. The business seminar will be on the 2nd of September from 11 AM with the main speaker being DJ Cleo of Eskhaleni Fame. Entrance is free and all artists are invited at Mavuso Trade Centre — the business centre right above the restaurants.
SWAMA has also invited successful, hardworking local and international artists to come and connect with local musicians on various topics. Topics to be covered during the seminar will answer the question of where the money is within the scope of the music business in eSwatini and beyond.
eSwatini International Trade Fair: Music Business Seminar Full Package
Royalties – Ms Nobuhle Matsebula (Ministry of Commerce Legal Adviser & Intellectual Rights Registrar)
Gigs & Live Performances – Steven Mtetwa (Artist Manager – So Fresh)
Digital Opportunities & Streaming – Mmeli Hlanze (Antidote Music)
Events – Mthunzi Shadow Zwane (Swaziboy Entertaiment)
Licensing & Scoring for TV & Film – Rendition (Motherland X)
Teaching music – Velemseni
Producing for other Musicians and Corporates – Mozaik The Producer (Claiming Ground Records)
Session Work – Sizwe Mabuza Big Siz (Project S Cubed Band)
R&B is a genre that is not that popular in eSwatini and the kingdom does not have many R&B artists. Mandisa Mamba is a diverse R&B singer-songwriter who made her official debut in 2016 and has achieved major success. After a year in the music industry, Mandisa was nominated as the Best R&B artist at the MTN SWAMA Awards 2017 and was listed as one of the artists to watch in 2018 by Glam Africa Magazine. We had a chance to chat to her recently to find out more about her.
What or who inspires you as an artist?
I am very fascinated and inspired by the idea that we have the power to create our own reality, it makes me hungry to see the kind of experiences I can consciously bring into my life. I am also inspired by women who push boundaries and break barriers, women like Bonang and Beyonce.
Describe your sound ?
I fall under the R&B genre but I like to think of my music as experimental in the sense that I mostly go with the flow, so when I pick a sound to write to it’S because I connect to it and sometimes it may be the furthest thing from a normal R&B sound.
What are some of the challenges have you faced especially in eSwatini’s musical scene ?How have you overcome these challenges?
I think the biggest challenge has been growing in Eswatini. It’s a small group that truly believes in us artists and although I am truly grateful for those who support us, it would be great if Eswatini as a whole stood by their entertainers. Unfortunately, this also applies to show promoters who tend to create 90% of their show focus on artists from outside our borders. This is not to say we should not be inviting and appreciating artists from outside of Eswatini, but this is a serious reflection of how much there is little support for the Swazi artist. I know in disagreeing with me, one may be tempted to point out one or two shows that are centered around Swazi artists, but unfortunately in such cases or “opportunities”, we face issues such as low pay or no pay at all, whilst the very same promoter would be willing to pay an outsider 50 times more.
No, there hasn’t been a solution in place but I would suggest that the eSwatini Music Associations comes together and does the following:
1. Pass a law that states a minimum pay for artists.
2. Ensure that at least 80% shows/festivals are centered around Swazi entertainers.
3. The Swazi audience can help us (as the artist) through silent/non-violent protests to demonstrate disapproval on shows that have little or no support for the Swazi artist.
Truth is we cannot grow nor thrive if our own people continue to look down upon us.
You recently released the video of your song Love Fiend, briefly tell us about the concept behind this song? Love Fiend is a mix of hip/hop and R&B. Inspired by the idea of desiring someone who doesn’t belong to you. The word ‘fiend’ seemed to be perfect to describe the depth of desire I talk about in the song, because it’s not just about the person who is desired but also what the desired person makes the other feel and how it then becomes an obsession or a case of behaving like one who is possessed, but in a sexy way, which you see in the music video. When I wrote the song I was writing from the perspective of the other woman/guy. Because when you listen to the words, you then get that the desired person is in fact involved with someone else. I never exactly intended to write a song for “side people”, the first few lines sort of came about in a jokingly manner and then my producer (Mozaik The producer) and I decided to stick to the story. It was a fun story to create. I wrote love Fiend about 3 years ago and only released it in 2018. Compared to my previous music, people are quite shocked at how daring I am when they hear it for the first time.
How has the reception to the video been?
The reception has been amazing. The music video has been received with so much love and I am so grateful to know that people appreciate my work. Taking into consideration that no one in Eswatini has ever created a music video that is openly sexy and expressive, I was so nervous about how people would respond to it, honestly. So it was a big relief to see that people understand the song itself and the music video.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician? What do you hate most?
I enjoy the process of creation, writing a new song, playing around with melodies and harmonies etc. I also love being on stage, I am excited by live performances. I don’t like that it’s a dog-eat-dog industry; people can be very dishonest, sneaky and selfish. I don’t understand why people are always trying to create ways to own the artist.
Take us through your song making/writing process?
I don’t have an exact formula to be honest. Sometimes I come up with ideas at random times and I’ll put them on my phone. Sometimes I’m able to start and finish a song in one day, sometimes it takes me months, even years. I have songs I started writing 2017 and only managed to finish the story this year. It depends on where I am emotionally I suppose. One thing I have noticed about me is that I am mostly able to tell the story once I am out of the situation, healed or in the process of healing from the pain and anger. Although, when it comes to talking about the good side of love, its easier for me to express it in the moment I am feeling it.
You’ve been featured on a couple of local projects, what is the process behind these collaborations?
I prefer to work with people I admire and respect. The process depends on everyone’s schedule, but it’s always better to be in studio and just move with the flow, together as one.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Trust your inner voice and surround yourself with people who believe in you but also who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth about your work. Being able to accept criticism is the key to growth.
What can we expect from you in the latter part of the year?
I have a new single out, it’s called ‘Anymore‘ and it’s on all digital platforms. I’m also currently working on more new music and I hope before the year ends I will have released more of that.
Where can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
Facebook: Mandisa Music
SoundCloud: Mandisa Mamba
“There is only one woman, and her name is all women. Nurture her, protect her, love her, guide her”
ESwatini’s music has flourished over the years and has produced a number of amazing artists. Born Phinda Dlamini, DJ Master P is a hip hop DJ who prides himself in his craft and representing his country the best way he can with every single set he delivers. With a career spanning over 10 years, Master P dropped his debut album entitled Dreams which was indeed a phenomenal body of work. Dreams is that type of album that you can listen to any day and time without skipping any single song.
The 2017 MTN SWAMA award best DJ winner is now back with a groundbreaking one man show called Thee Phenomenal Fiesta on the 5th of September 2019 at The George Hotel in Manzini. “Thee Phenomenal Fiesta is basically a Master P One Man Show, it’s about bringing together everyone who’s been part of the journey since 2008. It’s about celebrating the Master P brand”, he explains the concept behind the show.
Inspired by the growth of the Master P brand and followers, Thee Phenomenal Fiesta is all about giving his fans a full Master P experience with a twist. “People coming to the show can expect the best of me, also I’ll be unpacking the album, its gonna be an experience” he shares about what to expect on the day. The show will feature artist who were featured on his debut album and he’ll be performing alongside a live band. This will be a great show as it’s the first time a DJ in eSwatini has a one man show and the stunning venue compliments the whole concept very well.
Tickets are available at: Sdeez Supermix (Manzini) Ocean Basket (Gables & Mbabane) The George hotel (Manzini) People coming from outside the country can buy tickets at the door, or call 76275931 for reservations.
Going greens means different things to different people. A good general rule of thumb is to reduce your overall carbon footprint. Kitsi Music is eSwatini’s first and most elite talent booking agency dedicated to developing with vision, expertise and integrity, the touring careers of exceptional Eswatini artists who not only connect, inspire and transform their audience but remain true to the essence of their art. Kitsi translated as ‘where we belong’ is a great cornerstone for well-established and professional artists who have soared in the SADC and are ready to soar worldwide.
This festival is a first of its kind in the kingdom — most festivals have been committed to green lifestyle but none have fully embraced and based their whole concept around it. Through creative collaborations with local premium musicians, the festival will provide environmental education to the attendees in an engaging way that is memorable, relatable and sustainable.
This event will stay true to the green lifestyle and stay in line with the cultural significance of that weekend — entertainment will be created ensure the minimum usage of energy on the main stage. Our artists are of strong cultural origins and they will also incorporate indigenous instruments to create a rare sound. By using the musical medium, the lessons of environmental stewardship will be spoken to the heart and the mind simultaneously. A positive tone, easy, memorable melodies, and a rhythm to dance to make this method of collective communication especially powerful. On top of this, it gives further reasons to take the time to listen to realities that face our earth.
All performances will be during the day to save energy! This is a festival not to be missed as it accommodates all age groups and every type. The stellar lineup which consists of some of eSwatini’s finest artists will surely satisfy your musical pallet and tons other forms of entertainment to ensure you have a splendid experience.