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.
The new decade is here and we are all wondering what this new era has in store for us. With fresh starts, expectations of innovation and new ideas are high with no room for disappointment. In the South African music industry, especially in the hip hop culture, there are quite a few exciting prospects which we think have the potential rise up to great heights. LuE, short for Lost Unfolds Everything, is a young singer-songwriter who hails from the South of Johannesburg. A crooner of note, capable of delivering vivid imagery accompanied by layered and real storytelling. Entering the world created by LuE affords you an introspective look into the life and times of a born-free, their views and ideas.
Unlike most artists that I met, I got introduced to LuE by Pretoria based label founder and events curator, Luigi. We had a dope conversation, I got to know him and he went on to play some music for Luigi. The first song he played was Couch Energy. The song was played on smartphone and within a few seconds, I got hooked and vibing. Something special rests within LuE and as he gears up to release his second project, EscAPADE, we are sure to be introduced to a new wave of music rooted in honesty, youthfulness and creativity.
You will hear and see more of LuE this year. Want raps? Want some singing? He got you. Trust!
The biggest challenge South African music industry is facing is that most of our musicians don’t have a vision pertaining their music careers. They think you just have to write the lyrics, hit the studio, release an album then BOOM! You achieve success. It is important to know why you are starting a career in music as that will guide you on your way to achieving your success. Musicians who don’t have a vision end up being ‘has
beens’ of the industry. You will also notice that as they become public figures, they often in the media for all the wrong reasons.
You’ll be hearing that a musician was arrested for drunk-driving, rape or assaulted someone. Vision protects you from all these bad things happening to you. Your vision make you have a backbone, help you to never surrender to the pressure that may come with fame, you’ll know your worth and most importantly, others will have great respect for you and see you as a role model.
This will make getting endorsement deals easier as everyone will want to associate themselves with you. Another great thing that can happen is that event organizers will also be calling you every now and then to come perform or be an MC in their events. If you are a musician, you must always remember that everyone is watching your every move, so
it is very important to always play your cards right. Musicians must know that the vision will also help them measure how far they have gone towards achieving their goals and see if they are growing, going backwards or they not moving. In nowadays, musicians do more than recording and releasing their music, they now own record labels and that is because they have realized that it is a vision that makes an artist have a successful career. The industry can be a short career if you don’t have a vision. Roger that.
We often see pain as an inconvenient hindrance to our general wellbeing, and don’t get me wrong pain is incredibly uncomfortable, but we miss reasons why pain visits our lives: it comes to makes us aware, to teach and to strength. Dealing with pain means that you have to lock in and do the internal work required to calm the storm that pain brings in one’s life, prompting one to be inactive in the things that they love to focus on healing. Johannesburg singer-songwriter based in Cape Town, Amarafleur, captures this experience of grappling with pain, letting go and healing as a form of freedom.
‘DontLetGo‘ is single and it comes after a four-year hiatus which saw Amarafleur transition fully into who she is an artist, a professional and most importantly, a black woman. While this transition was happening, serious changes in her life manifested which she had no choice but to face and this, in an odd but beautiful way, refined her artistry preparing her for the next of her journey. The song is rooted in honesty and Amarafleur presents herself as bare, vulnerable and accepting of the losses that are setups for future wins in her work, art and relationships. In the song, she speaks on struggling to let go and taking back ownership of her power in all life situations and spaces that she fills and finds herself in.
After toiling tirelessly in life, Amarafleur seems to be finding her feet, her flair and her true self by returning to her calling. The songwriting is very direct and potent, and does not go over your head as it is crafted to be understood by many and to be accessible. Aule Kil Whan is the artist behind this dream and emotion-driven beat with touch points of electronica, R&B and hip hop; allowing Amarafleur to glide gracefully with her smooth vocals.
Amarafleur breaks out of this self-imposed silence with a grand re-introduction; more refined, more textured and packed with life lessons reflected in the strength of her pen. DontLetGo is an incredible record which will undoubtedly position her as an artist to look out for in 2020.
Stream DontLetGo on Apple Music. You can also stream the song on all other major streaming platforms.
A few weeks ago I attended the Monthly YouTube Meet-Up at the Old Mutual AMPD Studios in Newtown where respected and accomplished South African YouTuber, Sibu Mpanza, the Head of Digital of Digify, Qhakaza Mthembu and UK-based music industry professional T-Roy. The session was very insightful as the panelist shared a lot of great insight about the YouTube platform. I met a really great music industry professional who goes by the name of Nkazimulo Mabaso who has over 20 years experience in the South African music industry. We connected and set up a meeting so we could have a chat about his beginnings, what he does, his work and his role in the South African creative and arts industry.
The interview was condensed for easy readability purposes. Read it below.
Nkululeko: I have to thank you for availing yourself for this interview. I really appreciate it. So yeah, uhm, I think the main question is to find out more about you and what you do? Nkazimulo: The name is Nkazimuloyasezulwini and I run a movement called ‘The Street Government‘, and I call myself the Street Governer. So, on my side, I have a foundation called Inkazimulo Yasezulwini Foundation and its main focus is art in its entirety. Through the foundation, we also mentor artists as well about how the music industry works, the business side of music and how to build careers in the music industry. Many artists lack industry knowledge and all they care about is fame but when it comes to money they are suffering. So, my mission is to curb that by balancing everything in their careers especially in the fourth industrial revolution. Artists should be more empowered than ever before and they don’t need record labels but what they do need is great management.
So your focus is more on the structure and framework side of the music industry. You believe that management is a key component that artists should focus on especially in the times we’re in.
In terms of management, I will say that you get studio time where you record your music and that is where it is important to master the follow up steps. Because I will say that you have different types of managers; stage, road/tour, marketing, PR and distribution manager, and it depends on what exactly you need at the particular stage in an artist’s career. I don’t believe in doing things the traditional way because sometimes that can translate into no returns and that is why I push to always find new ways of doing things especially when it comes to management. I have been in the industry for so long and I have identified where there are gaps, opportunities and means of growth.
You work in different spheres of the music industry and one of them is the events space and you mentioned that you are planning to launch an event series targeted at universities in South Africa where you give unsigned artists a platform to tap into the varsity market. Can you tell us a bit about your process when it comes to organizing such events? Who do you approach and what happens in the back-end?
So when it comes to events at universities, I started in 2009 and I have built a solid track record and reputation in certain spaces. Most students stay in student residences and when I am about to pitch an event like that, I have to go to student housing and I speak with administration team and I say that I have this plan that I want to pitch and who can I speak to. I explain the value that the event will bring to the student community with a detailed. Most of the time I am often referred to speak to the resident advisor who is the one who is in charge of the different residences. I approach the SRC differently because they have their own office, so I check who is in charge of the SRC, be it EEFSC, SASCO or DASO etc. It really depends on what you want. For me, I want my artists to reach students and how do you reach students, by approaching the relevant bodies in the spaces that students exist in.
That’s great and insightful. You mentioned that when you approach varsities, it is often because you want your artist to access the student market. When it comes to management, what is the process before you manage an artist? Because I have come across a lot of artists that say to me that they found managers but the relationships are not working or they are not seeing results. What are your tips on find a good manager?
My advice to artists is always this: before you even approach or look for a manager, understand your music and have a vision. Know what you want to achieve. When you give your demo to a potential manager telling the manager to listen to your stuff, it must be pretty good and you must be unique. It’s easy to get management because us as managers we like money, so we see that is guy is dope and talented, I have to look at how we can make money. With me, it is slightly different because I don’t work with just any artist especially when it comes to hip hop artists because they often follow trends that are not authentically South African. I am working on a rhythm or beat when it comes to artist management, I haven’t perfected it but once you hear it, you will immediately notice it and you’ll be like that’s it. I look for uniqueness and authenticity. Artists should always push to do things that are unique and we have a lot of those artists in our country such as Big Zulu who does inkabi rap, Sho Madjozi and more.
So with that being said; if you do find an artist that is unique, from a business perspective what is your process to package all of that to take to the market and make money. How do you package that uniqueness to sell it to the whatever market you have identified?
To answer this, I will go back to one of the answers I gave you for one of the previous questions. The reason artists make music is because they want to sell and make money, so where I fit in is that I am good with marketing and how to connect with fans. Let me give you an example of a guy I met back in 2010 who was making Maskandi music. This guy was a Maskandi artist and I knew that people that are most likely going to connect with his music are mostly Zulu and reside in hostels and that was his target market. So this meant that I had to take that music to those people because if I were to take his music to Universal Music to distribute the music, they won’t take it there and they will take it to the music stores. I went to the elders of that particular hostel and asked if I can get this guy to perform there and they gave me their blessing. We didn’t even print posters or any other marketing material. I just told the guy to make as many copies of his music as possibles and he made 75 copies. He performed at the hostel and after the last song, we sold all the copies and each copy went for R75. We made R7500 within 30 minutes.
Wow. That’s super impressive. And that is the one thing that I have noticed from hip hop and dance music artists in our country, is that they struggle with finding their audience and monetizing it.
You know what the problem is? We watch too much TV [laughs]. Because if you want to be successful, switch the TV off, switch off your internet and think of your career. If you feel like you cannot make it without social media, know that you are not good. There are certain artists right now that are in a position where if the internet where to shut down, they would have no means of connecting with their fans and they’d fade away because they are heavily reliant on these platforms.
Are you saying that in the context of South Africa, it is more effective to sell product from a grassroots level, approaching people in real life rather than sending them links to your music online?
What happens if I don’t have data to access your music if it is just online. We have to think of and face the reality, data in South Africa is not cheap. The other thing artists overlook is where they come from. For example, you can get an artist from Katlehong and they make a certain style of music and they would rather go to Jozi to try and push their music forgetting where they come from. Why forget home? There’s treasure there. If I start at home, I won’t be spending much on transport, spending much on trying to find those fans or even finding venues. You can even take your music to taxi drivers as well. The taxi industry is a channel a lot of artists are ignoring. When I still stayed in Durban, I approached taxi drivers to play the music from some of artists and the response was amazing. Music discovery often happens in taxis and we cannot ignore that.
That’s powerful. I never really thought of taxis being a music discovery platform/medium. What is your view on the internet and its power in the times we live in? How can we use it to make all that we do better and the progressive in the context of South Africa and Africa?
The one thing I know is that most South Africans have WhatsApp and you know how powerful that thing is. With that platform, you have an opportunity to sell what you do using features like stories. Let’s say you are in studio, you record a snippet of the session and share it on your stories, and with those 30 seconds in a story you can connect with people. You arouse interest in your contact list. Some people have close to 100 people on their WhatsApp and when they view their statuses and that is content consumption. That is already an audience you can sell to. Imagine selling 100 copies for R100 to those people and the amazing part is that these people are close to you which makes it easier. You can use WhatsApp to create the hype and as a sales channel. Give yourself three months before you release a song. Prepare and market properly to build hype using accessible channels like WhatsApp. You can also get constructive feedback from the people on your WhatsApp and the feedback that you get will help you grow as an artist. You must build interest. With social media, you can build your leveraging by sharing meaningful and great content which and these days major labels find talent online and if you position yourself well online, they can sign you. And because you have your own audience and content, you have leverage and you can negotiate your own terms provided you are given a contract for a deal.
You would advise artists to do the grassroots push and ground work to build the audience so that by the time they get to a record label they have leverage.
Can you please tell us about the situation centered around the Copyright Amendment Bill that is currently sitting before our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and why it is important for us a the creative/arts community rally against this new Bill they are trying to introduce?
The current law we have pertaining copyright in South Africa was last updated in 1978, if I am not mistaken. So, right now you see how the world has changed and see how everything has progressed. This law needs to be updated to fit the world that we live in so that it accommodates everyone and is fair. So around 2015 or 2016, some key people in the creative/arts community came together to write down their grievances, requests and suggestions on what needs to be changed on the Copyright Amendment Bill and they were submitted to the Department of Arts & Culture. But to their surprise, although there were some changes, there were many things that were left out. So it still became the similar as the old one which means it wasn’t really upgraded to fit the current landscape. When this new bill is passed, it will mean that anyone can use your music, your paintings, writings, photographs and more for free without having to pay. Right now you have to paid for the use of your intellectual property and you can sue if your rights are infringed upon. That right will no longer exist if this bill is passed. In the early 2000s South African music industry earned about R3 billion in revenue, right now it is on 600 million and if this bill is passed those numbers will be R0. No one will be making money except the big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Spotify, Apple and more. Creatives not earn anything for their work and that is bad.
As a creative community, we really need to take this Copyright Amendment Bill situation seriously. So where can we go to contribute to existing rallies or movements that are fighting this thing?
On the 28th of August, we had a march which was organized by MASA (Musicians Association of South Africa) with the support of organizations like SAMRO, CAPASSO, SAMPRA and more. We submitted a memorandum and we are waiting for the president to respond on follow-up steps and if the feedback is negative, we still have to continue fighting. If you are interested in fighting this, you can visit the SAMRO building in Braamfontein and go to the MASA offices on the 9th floor. They will be able to assist.
Thank you so much for your time. I hope people find value in your insights.
Thanks. Until next time.
For young and up-and-coming artists, breaking into the music industry is difficult and carries a myriad of challenges that prevent them from succeeding. With the understanding of this insight, the Moshito Music Conference and MTV build the Moshito MTV Base Demo Presentation where up-and-coming artists can used their talents to score themselves a music package that is worth R30,000 to help them kickstart their careers.
The Moshito MTV Base Demo Presentation is an effort to provide artists a shot a huge break which includes; an opportunity to having the artist’s song sampled on a number of radio stations, professional demo recording and press kit development. These are things that young and up-and-coming artists cannot afford and by entering this competition they can cut these costs and be seeded into the right circles in the music industry. With support from Downtown Music Hub, this competition opens up a great door for aspirant future game changers in music to make their presence felt in the music industry.
The Moshito MTV Base Demo Presentation is open to all musicians and takes place on 2 September 2019 at Bassline (Newtown Music Factory) from 11am -4pm. There is no cover charge and it is absolutely free for all participants. A panel of expert judges in the music world including radio compilers, celebrity guests and music industry experts will select the 20 artists with the most promising potential. The qualifying 20 will be called back on September 2019 where the winner will take all.
JimmyWiz is an East Rand born and based rapper who is highly respected and regarded in the South African hip hop game. A fierce wordsmith who has gone toe-to-toe with some of country’s top-tier and feared MCs, standing his ground as an artist that can stand his ground but not only that; his catalogue speaks volumes for the South African hip hop game as it consists of quality and authenticity.
Over the years, JimmyWiz has toiled tirelessly in rap culture and business in Mzansi with affiliations with many of the artists who hail from the East and other areas of Johannesburg who we enjoy and celebrate today. Independently, JimmyWiz has built his own machine allowing him to stay true to the hip hop identity he grew knowing when he immersed himself in hip hop culture as a youth. An identity characterized by dope bars, attitude, impeccable storytelling and empowerment through song and message. JimmyWiz stays true to this and it is reflected quite beautifully in his catalogue; a body of work which will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
On his latest release titled Accordin’ To Jim, he zones in on himself and crafts an introspective view of his life; touching on topics such as love, his hustle, family, friendship and social issues like domestic violence. As much as the project is designed to focus on JimmyWiz and his life, it offers up value in the form of lessons delivered through story-driven song which prompts the listener to take a step back and reflect on their own life. The songwriting is beautiful with words threaded immaculately with the use of poetic devices to deliver great narratives, gritty bars and ideas. In 2019, no artist has dropped an openly introspective album with quality production and no skippable tracks. Accordin’ To Jim will stand the test of time and is a project that will grow with you, should you afford yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself in this project.
Stream Accordin’ To Jim below.
The project is available on all the other streaming platforms.
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.
The 30th of July was the day that was set to for the AMPD Icons Conversation at the Old Mutual South Africa backed AMPD Studios in Newtown. The event saw two legends of the South African music industry, J’Something and Dr. Vusi Mahlasela, come together for a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration, informative and engaging day of education for young creatives in Johannesburg.
The day started with a breathtaking performance by Dr. Vusi Mahlasela and J’Something where they wowed the crowd in attendance with a tribute to the late and great, Johnny Clegg. What followed was a lengthy and informative discussion where the two artists shared gems, stories and offered up advice to a youthful audience.
The South African DJ landscape is heavily male-dominated and often excludes women. This doesn’t stop certain creative women who have a passion and a love for music, armed with a determination to change the status quo and strive, they are flipping the script in the name of passion and representation. Durban based house music and radio DJ, Blackchild, is one such DJ who is changing the game with her talent. We got an opportunity to chat to the Blackchild to get more insight on her brand, her journey and more. Peep our conversation with her below.
What is the origin of the name Blackchild?
When I first joined radio an alias name made sense. I’ve always been “the odd one out/misfit” at home and with my friends, haha, don’t get me wrong though, I wasn’t the black sheep, and so black child seemed like the perfect name.
Are there any specific cultures you would say you derive your musical inspiration from?
I draw my music inspiration from a lot of things. It’s inspired my desire and love for travel, art and making others happy.
Who has been your biggest inspiration and influence to your music?
As a child it was my mother biggest influence. She introduced me to different genres. She was a vinyl collector.
Could you briefly describe your DJing process and how has your music evolved since you first started playing?
When I first started I was a soulful house head, still am. I have since then grown. Being a DJ is about trying out different genres until you find the one that speaks to your soul. It’s all about learning, evolving and growing in the process.
Many artists perform different rituals before their performances, is this something you can relate to? If so, what is it and how does it help you prepare for your set?
I don’t have a ritual. I feel the best way to prepare my sets is according to time I will be on the decks and the venue.
You have performed at numerous venues and featured on various radio shows. Tell us about your favourite performance venues and radio shows, the set-up that you feel most comfortable in when conducting a performance?
I have enjoyed all of my features because at the time I gave the best version of myself. The ones that have however stood are on The Warehouse on YFM, because in all my time as a DJ deep tech and afro house are the genres I connect with most. The show represents that. The response and support from the listeners has also been amazing.
Have you faced any challenges or discrimination in the industry because of your gender? Was it difficult to receive the recognition you deserve in the game?
Possibly, but not that I am aware of. As an upcoming DJ on the other hand, I’ve had to work harder to showcase my work.
What words of inspiration would you give to other women in the industry who have the same respect and desire for their craft like yourself?
Every time you step out, give it your all. No matter how you feel, give your best version. You are as good as your last set. Play like it’s the last time. Most importantly, rejection comes with making it. Don’t let rejection stop you. Don’t give up. Keep going.
What are your fondest musical memories growing up and how have they influenced your DJing? Whether it be in your house or in your neighbourhood?
When I lost my mother, I was 11. I then lived with my cousins. I didn’t like fighting for the remote so I’d go listen to radio in the bedroom. I’d listen to Umhlobo Wenene’s afternoon drive with KCee. He played the best soulful house. That’s when I fell in love with house music.
What can we look forward to from you in the following upcoming months?
I am currently working on a number of things and because of my line of work and the NDA around them, it doesn’t allow me to speak about them prior their release. However, everything will be posted on my socials in due time.