Suup Zulu (real name Sibusiso Tshona) is an out-of-the-box creative thinker and multifaceted artist that hails from the oldest township in South Africa, Alexandra. Alexandra is more popularly known as Gomorra and the name that speaks of the roughness, strife and conditions of the north eastern Johannesburg township. In this roughness, strife and unfavorable conditions, beauty finds its way into the fore detailing the extraordinary resilience of the people that live in Alexandra. This beauty that I speak of manifests itself as creativity; finding ways to beat struggle, alleviate conditional circumstances, and survival-oriented problem solving. Suup Zulu, like a true artist, sees beyond the strife and uses his surroundings as his advantage, and with a strong imagination, he constructs worlds which paint a different picture of iGomorra – Alexandra like never seen before.
As a youth that is born and raised in Alexandra, creativity is his best bet for expression and escapism. In his art, he creatively tackles issues such as classism, township living and the state of his surroundings whilst paralleling that with themes of space, time and intergalactic travel. As performer he has built himself to be a kwaito practitioner which carries the braggadocios attitude of a rapper. His music carries an effortless cool and swagger and he delivers his lyrics in a nonchalantly manner. Lines like ‘yimi le type engena eSandton idla iskobho i’walke around” on the song, Juluka bam’phethe, clearly illustrate how he unpacks the black township experience and places it in an unusual scenario/setting like Sandton. When he does this, even though this may be surface level, he subtly touches on class allowing you to think of the unimaginable. What he also manages to do is cement the need of representation in some of spaces that are not designed for black people in mind, and he also identifies a need for black pride and the ownership of our experiences and culture as black people.
The Suup Zulu sound is spacey and beautifully experimental. He raps over spacey beats delivering his thoughts in his native tongue, IsiZulu. With an imaginative approach to music, he has knack for twisting your mind as the listener as he introduces concepts like intergalactic travel to other planets with a Siyaya (a popular South African mini-bus taxi manufactured by Toyota in the late-to-mid 80s). Fascinating concepts to be honest! Suup Zulu is designing the next South African sound and it is only a matter of time until more people catch on.
Stream ZULU ON MAAS by Suup Zulu, a two track collaborative EP with Johannesburg producer, Maas.