Photos
Sho Madjozi performs at Capsule festival in 2017. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

In The Lab: Sho Madjozi on Poetry, Gqom, and Upcoming Album

We hang out with South African hip-hop sensation, Sho Madjozi in the lab.

This profile is part of OkayAfrica's ongoing series, THE WAV 2019, following the young artists shaping the future of the South Africa's music scene. You can read more profiles and interviews here.

Sho Madjozi is one of South Africa's most exciting artists at the moment. She has churned out hits like "Dumi HiPhone" and 'Huku," in which she blends hip-hop and gqom. She has collaborated with the likes of Wanlov The Kubolor, PH, Ms Cosmo, OkMalumKoolKat, and a few more.


She has captured the attention of South Africans with her style and personality. But more than anything, what sets her apart is how she managed to bring the Xitsonga language into the mainstream music scene, especially hip-hop.

Sho Madjozi with Classic Keys and T Boy Da Flame. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

There's more to Sho Madjozi than catchy rhymes over gqom beats, though. She is currently working on her debut album, which will showcase more of her abilities and tastes.

"People are gonna get to know me a lot more," says the artist as she prepares to record a single at her home studio in Johannesburg. "I'll be more full in my sound. [It will be] an album that showcases what's going on in my world—I don't only listen to gqom; it's not the only influence I have. There's xibelani, Xitsonga music, Shangaan electro, xingondo—which is the venda and Zimbabwean music… those influences. So I wanna get more live instruments, those traditional guitars and stuff.

"I've started working on the album, but I will go full out on it around June/July, and hopefully have it out in September or October."

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Today, though, she is recording a single with two young producers, Classic Keys and T Boy Da Flame, who are third-year medicine students at the University of Witwatersrand. The duo has been thriving in the parody scene. Their parody of a parliament incident in which former South African president Jacob Zuma was referred to as "uBaba kaDuduzani," went viral. They turned those clips from parliament into a viral gqom hit that is currently sitting at 1,3 million views.

"They hollered at me on Instagram," says Sho Madjozi. "I'm getting beats now because 'Dumi HiPhone' went viral," she says.

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

After a few takes in the booth, she feels the song they're working on today needs more of a knock. The duo modify the beat on the spot until both parties feel it's headed in the right direction. She's also struggling with vocals as last night was her birthday party, and her voice is failing her.

A framed cover of #Trending, the City Press' arts and culture section sits comfortably in Sho Madjozi's studio. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Sho Madjozi may be making a lot of gqom-oriented hits now, but only a few know she started out as a poet. Just a few years ago, performing under the name Maya The Poet, she was a completely different artist.

"I recently got a booking request to perform in a poetry festival in Argentina," she says. "It's tricky because the Sho Madjozi thing is more consuming, I don't have a lot of time to work on other things."

In the booth. Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

I ask her if we will see a return of Maya The Poet on her upcoming album. She doesn't give a straight answer, but from her response, it's highly unlikely.

"I got a bit tired of the poetry scene," she says. "It can be a bit insular and elitist, because when I was doing poetry, none of my cousins in the village knew what I was talking about.

"And, [as a poet,] you can be very outspoken, but a lot of the time, you are talking to people who already agree with you—you are in a room full of people who already hold the same view. When you talk about patriarchy, women abuse… just all sorts of social ills, generally anyone who goes to a poetry session is not your target audience, these are already woke people. So now, how do I reach the people that I believe I was always trying to reach as a poet?"

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Poetry is cool, but me and thousands of fans are glad she left it behind. And clearly so is she. "The Sho Madjozi thing has gotten such a strong reaction from people, in such a way that it's overwhelming," she says on her latest alter ego. "It touched a nerve, and I'm still trying to figure out the extent of it. People are dedicated to this movement, partly the language thing."

She might be a thriving as a rapper now, but she didn't see herself becoming a rapper starting out.

"I don't have the same lifestyle as all the rappers I saw at that time," she says. "And as a woman, it seemed there were only two ways to be a rapper. You either have to be really really sexy or be masculine, and I'm neither. I'm not into rap culture that much, I prefer xibelani as far as parties go. I've only recently gotten into club culture, because they never used to allow me to wear sneakers. But now they do, because I'm famous. So now I can go to a club."

She chuckles after the last sentence, and it's time to go back into the booth.

Follow Sho Madjozi on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and check out some of her tunes below:




Music

Listen to Solo’s New Single ‘Promises’ Featuring Kwesta

Solo and Kwesta connect on 'Promises.'

Solo and Kwesta share a bouncy kwaito beat on "Promises." Kwesta's at home over an instrumental of this kind. It's, however, a shift on Solo's side, who hasn't been known for new age kwaito. The rapper adapts his delivery accordingly, using fewer words than you'd normally expect in his verse.

Keep reading... Show less
News
"85 to Africa" album art.

Listen to Jidenna's New Album, '85 to Africa'

Plus watch the music video for his latest single "Worth the Weight" featuring Seun Kuti.

It's been two years since Jidenna dropped his debut album, The Chief, today, the artist shares his latest studio album 85 to Africa.

In the lead-up to the album's release, the artist dropped the singles "Tribe," "Sufi Woman" "Sou Sou," and "Zodi" featuring fellow Nigerian artist Mr Eazi. He also held several listening parties across the US ahead of its release, and from what we can tell from videos that have been circulating on social media—they've been a really great time for both Jidenna and his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio

Mr Eazi & Simi Drop the New Single and Video For 'Doyin'

A head-nodding Afro-R&B track produced by Killertunes.

Mr Eazi seems to be in unstoppable work mode right now as he's been popping up in big singles and collaborations all over the place this summer, as well as continuing his emPawa Africa initiative.

For his latest single, "Doyin," Eazi connects with Nigerian singer Simi for a head-nodding Afro-RnB track. The new song, which is built on woozy synthesizers and mid-tempo beat work, was produced by Killertunes. Eazi and Simi trade verses in the addictive single, which comes paired with a new music video directed by Manuel Concha.

Read: The Music Business of Mr Eazi

"Doyin" is the first song released through emPawa Distribution, a digital music aggregator focused solely on distributing African music, which Eazi announced after the success of emPawa Africa. Speaking of the initiative, emPawa Africa is now reopened to submissions that will help fund the music videos of 30 up-and-coming artists and offer mentorship from big name artists.

Keep reading... Show less
Music

Listen to Rick Jade (Bontle Modiselle and Priddy Ugly)’s Album ‘D.N.A (Da New Africa)’

Rick Jade release their debut album.

Bontle Modiselle and Priddy Ugly, collectively known as Rick Jade, aren't half-stepping. Today, the couple released their debut album D.N.A (Da New Africa).

D.N.A consists of 10 songs that dabble in pop, trap and even kwaito. Guest features on D.N.A include Forcalistic, KLY and some members of the collective Frsh Citizen, which Bontle and Priddy are part of.

In his previous projects, Priddy Ugly had some moments of showing emotion and sharing intimate details of his life. But on D.N.A, he explores that side of himself further.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.