Photo: Lihle Menziwa

How Lloyiso Aims to Take South African R&B Global

We talk to the singer about his upbringing, signing to Universal Music Group SA & Republic Records and more.

Back when he was a teen watching Idols, Lloyiso used to tell his family he could sing better than most of the contestants. Years later, when he made it onto the show but was eliminated after getting to the Top 8, he got a bit of a wake up call. It was one that would set him up for bigger goals.

"I wanted things and I wanted them to happen now," he tells OkayAfrica. "It was a humbling experience. I still needed to learn myself and know who I am. Patience was the biggest lesson I learnt from that show." It's a patience that's paid off with the news of Lloyiso's signing to Universal Music Group South Africa.

Born in 1999, as Loyiso Giyana, in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, the singer is taking his soulful R&B stylings to the world, where he'll play among the likes of Arianna Grande and James Blake. Universal South Africa will release his music in his home country, while Republic Records will nurture his global presence.

Lloyiso doesn't have a date yet for his debut album, but he's working on it — and still working on himself, too.

He spoke to OkayAfrica about his hopes for the record deal and his music.

Lloyiso - Seasons (Visualizer)

When did your love for music start — was it something fostered by your family?

Growing up, my family loved playing music and singing along. My sister was my inspiration in getting into music. She was always listening to the top tier musicians, like Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson. She used to watch Dream Girls, back in the day. I remember the first CD she ever got was was Jordin Sparks. The first song, "One Step at a Time," starts with footsteps. I would hear the footsteps and I knew! I would run from wherever I was in the house and start singing that song with her. That's what I remember my love of music started from: my sister and my family really loving music, always encouraging me to sing. I used to sing at birthday parties, I used to sing at school events so music has always been a big part of my life.

You gravitated from an early age to R&B and used to sing along to songs by Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson — where there any local singers you looked up to?

I really loved Shekhinah and I used to watch her when she was on Idols. I still love her now.

How did you go from filming yourself singing covers to landing an international record deal?

I've always had a big social media presence. Whenever I used to post something, it would go viral and have mad numbers. Not from the start, but a lot of people were getting used to it. I was still growing my fan base after Idols, I put out a lot of stuff. I was still in school and I wanted to establish myself, so I started putting out covers and doing them more and more. I was consistent.

And then Kgosi Mahumapelo from Ambitiouz Entertainment got in touch…?

Yeah, I was actually studying at that time. I had finished high school and went to go study at Varsity College. I was studying education. Basically, I had this conversation with my mom and I was like, 'Mom, I want to take a gap year and figure out what I want to do with my life,' and she said, 'A gap year's going to make you lazy. Go to school and maybe you'll meet new people there and figure it out.' I went to varsity for three weeks. My first week I was like, 'This is not my thing.' Then one day, boom, I'm in class, I've got my very colorful headphones on, I'm busy producing music on my laptop and I get this call: 'Is this Lloyiso? This is Ambitiouz, we want to meet you.' And I was like, that's it, I'm leaving. So during class, I left. I told my mom, got on the bus and went to Joburg and pursued music.

You're joining an incredible roster of artists at Republic, do you feel any kind of pride or pressure about being the first South African they've signed?

I never thought about it that way, like I'm carrying a whole nation, my back must be sore, hey (laughs). But I am very excited. One thing I'm excited about is that I'm inspiring a lot of people. A lot of creatives, a lot of musicians and singers are going to come out and be the best they can be and understand that this is not the only place you can create, and this is not the only achievement you can achieve. There's a lot of people, a lot of kids at home, and a small towns, like the one I lived in, that will know there's so much more to life, so much more to achieve. The sky's not the limit. I'm glad that I'm going to be able to inspire people to achieve great things.

Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video)

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