Thirteen years ago, Sun-El Musician left his home in the Midlands of KwaZulu Natal and dropped out of university to move to Joburg and pursue a dream that continues to unfold with To the World & Beyond, the much-anticipated followup to his debut album
Sun-El Musician almost didn't release the very song that made him the much-loved name he is in South African dance music. He sent "Akanamali" to three different sound engineers and still didn't feel it was quite ready to see the light of day. The song, which is about being broke, sat on his laptop for four months before his younger brother, Sandile, encouraged him to reconsider putting it out for others to hear.
"If it were up to me, I wouldn't have released 'Akanamali,'" Sun-El, real name Sanele Sithole, tells OkayAfrica. "I would have wanted it to be so extra perfect. I don't know what that means anymore, but once you touch a song, you feel like you could do better." Thankfully, with a little nudging from his brother, Sun-El let the song out into the world in 2017 to work its magic, earning him his place in the scene, along with three South African Music Awards, including Best Collaboration with Samthing Soweto.
Sun-El's reputation has been shaped by years of working with Demor Skhosana, who helped get him started in the industry, and producing tracks for the likes of Thiwe, Zakes Bantwini, and Shota. The self-taught Sun-El has put all he's learnt into a label of his own, El World Music, which counts Simmy and S-Tone, who both appeared on his debut album Africa to the World, among its roster. At the same time, he's teamed up with artist development company Platoon to increase the reach of his music.