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DuBoiz Shares Deets About His Track Dope Dream & The MMA16 Nod

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duboiz interview

Fresh from inking the deal with Durban-based recording label Mabala Noise, he jetted off to shoot his music video with Tyga in the United States. Born and raised in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, rapper and producer Sandile Nhlakanipho Kubheka also referred to as DuBoiz is unfazed by the prospect of being in the same record label as the award winning artists and industry veterans that make up the roster for Mabala Noise. Fast forward 12 months later since his first song on radio, he is nominated in the Metro FM Music Awards in the Best Video category for his jam Dope Dream. We spoke to the rapper about his aspirations and the timeline to the drop of his full body of work.Du Boiz


QuenchSA: What Inspired the stage name DuBoiz?


DuBoiz: I was named after a civil rights legend William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. My father was one of the people that fought for the liberation of the country back in the day. He used to make me to watch your Malcolm X,  would tell me all about civil rights legends, your Oliver Tambos. Its not on my ID document but its a  name I liked and they used to call me all the time.


QuenchSA: At what point did you realize that music is what you wanted to do for a living?


DuBoiz: For a living I think it was back in 2011 but I had been recording ever since 2008. My big brother then Thabo Mlangeni is the one who told me to record my first song. I used to do it for fun until it got to a point where I thought I can’t do anything else. That’s when I started hustling to try and get into the industry.


QuenchSA: You’ve been very vocal about your upbringing. Do you feel it has prepared you for life in the public eye?


DuBoiz: Most definitely! I come from a place where my grandmother used to say a person is a person because of other people. Everyone needs help. I remember there were times where we didn’t have food to eat so all of that taught me to be humble and to appreciate all my blessings.


QuenchSA: For your third single and video you already had an international approach. Why was that important?


DuBoiz: I think everyone in the industry especially in Africa pray and wish that one day they can compete with the superstars we see on TV all the time. By superstars I mean American musicians. For me to work with someone from that side and to have a director from that side in Hollywood shooting the video meant a lot. People don’t know that he chose the song, we sent some songs that side and he chose it because he liked it and I respect him for that.


QuenchSA: Your second single in as many months features multi-award winning artist AKA. There’s a certain go big or go home approach about you?


DuBoiz: You gotta risk it to get the biscuit!


QuenchSA: Can we expect a full body of work this year?


DuBoiz: Everyone has been asking about that, I think I have three singles already. I’m still building a fan base, last year this time I didn’t have a song on radio, this year this time I’m nominated for the Metro FM M for Best Video. Because we’ve done so much in terms of being here for quite some time, its been only eleven month since I’ve had a song on radio. I’m in no rush. When I feel like it’s my time then I’ll drop the album.



QuenchSA: Mabala Noise. How did that come about?


DuBoiz: I was just recording and wanted to do it independently and own everything. I approached my father for funds to shoot a video. He sent the music to Babu Reggy Nkabinde who is the boss right now just to ask for advice to invest money into my music. He listened to the music and sent me to Dj Bongz in Durban so that I could chill with him and come up with something dope. After a week or two I came back and made them listen to the music. That’s when he (Reggy) decided that you can’t do this independently, you have something, so I’m going to sign you. That’s when I got the deal in 2016.


QuenchSA: For your first two singles you didn’t feature any of your label-mates. Is that going to be the same for the album?


DuBoiz: No! Its just the singles that I released now that I don’t have my stable mates. But we are family and we talk all the time. I want to feature every artist from the label even the house deejays. When the time is right its going to happen.


QuenchSA: You’ve been nominated for the upcoming MMA16 in the Best Video category. You feel like its the first of many?


DuBoiz: Definitely! Obviously there’s the likes of Kwesta , AKA, your Nasty Cs…these are people I was to listen to on radio back in 2015. To be a nominee means a lot, to be nominated against your Mafikizolo, Khuli Chanas, Anatii, I can tell that people love what I do and this is only the beginning.


QuenchSA: Your first few months in the industry were something off a story book. What does 2017 have in store for you?


DuBoiz: Well, right now we pushing for the votes, and we going to try and push for the music video for Halleluja, we haven’t shot it yet, still working on it. After we going to drop more singles just to build the fan base. Hopefully I’ll get to work with a lot of people in South Africa, I also have dreams and would like to work with my role models. For now just trying to build everyday.


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Interviews

INTERVIEW: K.O Talks Cashtime, SA Hip Hop & New Album

The rapper distills his legacy and teases new album while shedding light on Cashtime catalogue

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Photo: K.O via Instagram

If we had our own franchise of David Letterman’s Our Next Guest Needs No Introduction, K.O would have been at the top of the production wish-list.

While his rich catalogue of timeless classics and definitive bars have underscored his ascension to the crest of the culture, he’s one of the few influential figures in Hip Hop who’ve shunned the splashy displays and trappings of fame.

Perhaps it’s because the genesis of his fame dates back to an era when rap mushroomed outside the parameters of the mainstream pop zeitgeist, producing a wave of artists whose survival depended on sheer artistic brilliance, rather than their ability to dazzle elsewhere.

K.O, Moozlie, Maggz, Kid X, Ma-E all appear on the Cashtime ‘Now or Never’ album, now on all digital platforms. Photo: Supplied

In 2006, when Teargas blew up, the hooks of celebrity did not really attend to the emerging slew of rappers who went against the grain. Not Skwattakamp, not ProKid, and certainly not Teargas.

There were just not many opportunities and platforms the rappers have now. Back then, Hip Hop itself was the misunderstood ‘cheese boy’ everyone in school thought would snitch and sell out the authenticity Kwaito had cultivated and owned.

“What I have coming up is gonna be appreciated on a large scale, just based on where I am. I’ve found my feet again.”

Of course, we now know that was not true. Hip Hop became the new leader, and K.O was at the forefront of that revolution.

Just like the now mainstream genre, the rap juggernaut didn’t just top charts and take every award, and the coins, he pioneered a whole new distinct sound and an original wave that melted township street heritage and Hip Hop. The Skhanda sound, and the merch that followed, positioned him as the ultimate disruptor.

But despite all his success, K.O has managed to sustain an enigma about him. This is part of the reason our chat with him was all the more exciting – you are chatting to one of the g.o.a.t’s, trying to clear a bunch of things and dive into a world from which one of the greatest Hip Hop movements emerged.

K.O seeks to preserve the piece of history created by the Cashtime entity with new move. Photo Credit: Supplied

The rapper talked frankly to us about the importance of evolving as an artist, adjusting one’s creative sails in the very vast waters of an ever shifting soundscape, the details on the newly re-published Cashtime catalogue, and what lies ahead in his music and street apparel careers.

Congratulations on Skhanda Republic and the Cashtime catalogue being republished on digital streaming platforms. Though, why now?

The music was down for almost a year… since last year. The reason was because Cashtime was being distributed by Sony Music. And then, sometime last year, the contract and partnership between Cashtime and Sony Music lapsed.

By default, Sony had to take the stuff down. We’ve spent months on end trying to find a new home. We could have easily decided to renew the deal with Sony, but we decided because we are an independent label, we should explore more options.

In the end we settled with Africori, the guys who are now responsible for looking after the catalogue. It’s literally just a business decision. Once we were happy with what was being offered, we decided to move forward, which just happens to be now.

There are so many questions around the Cashtime catalogue, which includes some previously unreleased tracks, now resurfacing back into the radar. What does it really mean for everyone involved?

It doesn’t really change much because as you can see, everyone is sort of doing their own thing now.

Stuff that is out there is stuff that was released while we were working together. It’s solely based on servicing the continuous demand for that piece of work and history. Whether we are in business together now or not is beside the point because everyone is now invested in their own individual business efforts, myself included. I’m not a Cashtime artist, I’m doing other things.

In terms of relationships amongst ourselves as former colleagues and business acquaintances, there is no issue there. It just doesn’t mean that we are gonna start working together as Cashtime moving forward. It’s a piece of history that we wanted to preserve and that’s what it is.

Skhanda Republic is your quintessential masterpiece. It’s what Thriller was to Micheal Jackson, and Purple Rain was to Prince. Do you obsess about trying to top it? 

No. Artists go through different phases in their lives. Times change and so do artists. Trying to recapture a certain feel is difficult. I can literately go into the studio and try to create a song that will sound like that album, but it won’t resonate the same.

It will now just be a repetition of what I did in the past. It’s almost like… you know when they say the first cut is the deepest? That’s because it’s a new feeling at the time.

Once you try to give someone the same feeling using the same thing, you are unlikely to achieve the same results. The only thing I can do now is forge ahead and make a new classic that marks the chapter where we are in 2019… where I am right now. Something that encapsulates the current mood.

When people look back 5 years from now it should almost be an audiovisual album, so to speak, that whenever you listen to the music… it triggers the feelings of 2019.

That’s what that album did. When people look back, they say, ‘Oh, shit! That was probably SA Hip Hop at its peak!”

… It fitted that period. Especially with what was happening with the Kwaito influence at the time.

In 2019, If I can try and use the same elements it won’t resonate because people just aren’t that excited about that Kwaito vibe anymore. I need to tap into what’s happening now in order to create the next new classic and that’s what I’m currently working on.

Music has evolved a lot in the last two years. What are your thoughts on the SA Hip Hop landscape?

One thing that’s kind of missing is, we are not that big of risk takers as we used to be in terms of style and the music that we are making. We are just sort of tapping into, ‘Okay, this artist has a song that is happening right now, or amapiano is happening right now… How do I make an amapiano song? There’s Gqom happening now so let me do that.”

Like, people haven’t been as daring as we used to be. No one is saying, ‘I don’t care what people think but this is what I want and feel could change the game’, and then doing that and breaking the chain. It creates the next revolution of SA Hip Hop. A lack of that has kinda held us back.

It also reflects in how things look right now. We hardly have big SA Hip Hop songs on the charts, and that is because the audience is not stupid. They can see. When we are putting in the hard work to wow them, it shows in how much they consume the culture. But if we are comfortable and complacent, and also just playing it really safe, it affects the numbers.

It also reflects in how artists blow up and fizzle just as quick… 

Yes!

But you’ve managed to be relevant and authoritative for so long. What can you tell the up and coming cats about longevity? 

You need to be a fan of the culture. Like, through and through. You can’t expect yourself to evolve with the times if you don’t embrace change. Just because people are singing on a Hip Hop beat you think  ‘I’m rapper, why should I?’ Once you start seeing things that way, you will find yourself falling behind.

It’s about adapting all the time because times do change. New artists keep coming out and there’s always a new style of music our people are gravitating to.

If people are gravitating towards a Nasty C hit, understand why they are doing that and then you find your way around the people.  What can you borrow while keeping true to your authentic self? How do I appeal to a Nasty C fan while also appealing to my fan? That’s how I read evolution.

How have you managed to marry fashion and music so authentically? It never felt like, ‘Oh, he’s getting another bag.’

I’ve always been someone that always kinda had an influence in the streets as far as fashion trends are concerned.

I saw what Caracara did and how we impacted the culture. Having done that, and doing it using brands that I wasn’t even in business with, I figured if I add value to brands that have nothing to do with me then, how about I empower myself and build my own label? It’s how we started back then.

With Cashtime Life and the merchandise, we hadn’t figured out the apparel business side of things. It’s how we ended up being unfortunately hit by by piraters and stuff like that.

Now going back into it, I was fortunate enough to have a relationship with a chain store like Studio 88, who are now selling my brand through 40 stores countrywide.

And that was a result of my relationship with ASICS. So it’s always been about trying to do things differently and trying to grow, not just focusing exclusively on the music. That’s where we are now – it’s not just having a good song or album. It’s also about the other stuff you do outside of that and how you influence the culture and impact the entire game.

Cashtime shifted, disrupted and redefined the culture in a pioneering way. Is there anything in the game that is particularly exciting you about the future of SA Hip Hop right now?

I don’t think it’s happening on a movement level. Artists, individuals are doing big things though. If we need to get back to creating movements and seeing black conglomerates working together, those are kinds of things I care about. I still want to do that…

Let’s look at the future. What’s there? 

On the clothing side, we are currently we have a winter range available at Studio 88. We have a Spring range launching in October. I’m very excited about that!

On the music side of things I have a new single that is coming out in August with a new music video. I’m also working on my third solo album, which I think people are gonna love! I’m grateful to see my current single Supa Dupa making rounds within the game and people still showing excitement around what I’m bringing to the table.

In terms of the album, what I have coming up is gonna be appreciated on a large scale, just based on where I am. I think I found my feet again. I can’t wait for people to hear it.

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INTERVIEW: Actor Pepi Khambule on Moving To Philanthropy

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We caught up with film veteran and ex Backstage actor Pepi Khambule who shares where he is today, what he is up to now and he also weighs in on the #OpenUpTheIndustry movement

When did you realise you wanted to work in the film industry?

I started when I was four years old. I would see something on TV or bioskop, and what would always stay in my mind is how everything was put together. From the film, direction, editing, screenplay, everything. That moment served as a starting point for my career.

How did you first enter the film business?

I started in 1990, screenplay writing. I went from being a runner, an actor one day and a director today. It was not easy, but I always had a goal in mind about where I want to be and what impact I want to leave in this world.

How did you move from being an actor to what you are today?

Today, I am a director for the non-profit organisation Khamoja Heritage Foundation which teaches the youth nationally, be it in rural, slums, and township communities about the film industry, particularly about reinventing story in film.

For years I was an actor, but I feel more can be done for the South African industry, and what I did was to put my efforts in to building something that will benefit others who love film. I sat down and I thought, ‘let’s start educating the future today so that it can be better’

Is there a potential to move to international content?

We should not have to go all the way to Hollywood for South Africa to make it. The aim of Khamoja is to get to a point where South African film becomes popular in South Africa, without the need or acceptance from the international body

How does your work blend the creative and business sides of film?

I simply allow my talent and gift to work so that I can achieve the same goals as that of Khamoja Heritage Foundation. Our goal is also supported by the National Lottery Commission who believe that to succeed in anything you must have passion.

Be passionate about what you want and what you want to achieve, and do not be afraid to share it with everyone. Eventually someone will also believe in what you want to achieve and help get you there.

What skills have you found to be most valuable in film?

Self-knowledge… As film makers and story tellers, we want to share what we feel and think with the whole world, but if within us there is conflict or misunderstanding it shows in our storytelling and often it does not end well.

What do you think should be done to Open Up the South African entertainment industry?

To be quite honest, everyone is doing everything that they can to get ahead in South Africa.  I started out as an actor, but I have learned to use the skills that I have acquired in film, television, directing, screenplay to start Khamoja. People need to learn that no matter what industry you are in, you must create your own opportunities – because you will only get as far as you want to

What advice do you have for people who want to be a part of the South African film industry?

For those that are interested in writing, or have written their movies, and have not shot movies, reach out to us at Khamoja Heritage Foundation on all social networks and visit us at www.khamoja.org and let’s work together to refine the South African film industry.

 

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INTERVIEW: Nadia Nakai Dishes On ‘Nadia Naked’

On her first album, BRAGGA strips down more layers to reveal the version of herself you hadn’t met.

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Nadia Nakai fesses up to being both excited and nervous about the looming premiere of her long awaited debut album, Nadia Naked.

Debuting on Friday, June 28th, the long awaited LP is arguably the most anticipated South African Hip Hop album in 2019. It’s not hard to understand why, though. Fans have protested the absence of a Nadia Nakai album on the shelves for eons now.

“I’m probably the hardest working rapper in South Africa, period.”

it’s all thanks to an impressive catalogue of bops that the demand for a full body of work has been mounting for years for Nadia.

The constant pressure to release an album has inspired, she tells us, the sonic quality and authentic substance of the project. “They are going to hear the growth I’ve gone through as an artist”, she says, explaining how the album reveals layers of her soul.

Nadia Naked marks a definitive era. It’s one, Nadia says, that will set a few records straight about the position she takes up in the imagination of music audiences in South Africa and beyond.

She works damn hard, for one, and a lot of people can’t get past certain preconceived notions. “People think I get a lot of stuff because I’m associated with Cassper, or because I’m part of Family Tree and I’m just a pretty face who looks cute in bum shorts.”

At the heart of it, Nadia Naked introduces a version of Nadia as told through her own pen, her own terms and, most importantly, her own truth. She distills the journey and chats all things debut album in a conversation with QuenchSA.


Your debut album Nadia Naked is coming out in a week. How are you feeling during the countdown to the premiere?

“I’m very nervous! (Laughs) I’ve been so anxious for this day because people have beeeen asking me when I’m releasing the album. Now it’s here, and I’m scared, nervous and excited at the same time. I’ve worked very hard on this album. I know it’s good. I’ve put in a lot work and promo behind it and I’m excited for my fans to hear the work.

There are so many expectations for this one because fans have been on your case about dropping it…

The one thing that I had to not focus on was the constant pressure for me to release an album. It’s because of that pressure that I’ve had to keep going back to the label and be like, ‘the album’s done! Let’s release it, it’s done!’

And they’ll be like ‘no, it’s not.’ It’s the most frustrating thing when people keep saying the album is not done yet and you need to get back in the studio and record more new music. But if it wasn’t for the pressure from the fans, I don’t think I would have gotten to this stage in terms of how good the album is now.

I’m so excited because what they’ve been asking for is finally here. My fans are going to hear the work that I’ve put into the album. They are going to hear the growth I’ve gone through as an artist, more so when you listen to the album, compared to anything else I’ve done.

Why the title Nadia Naked?

The title Nadia Naked plays on my name, Nadia Nakai. And, I’m not sure if you are aware but, every time I perform, people always say I never have any clothes on. ‘Nadia is naked! Nadia is always naked!’

It’s also about stripping away the layers that I’ve created for myself to not allow people in. If something happens, I never address it on social media and I’m aware that many people want to know how I felt about certain things…

So I speak about my family, my relationships with people in the music industry. I speak about break ups and my emotional states. I’m allowing people into my life to get to know Nadia, naked.

Having performed for massive crowds and dabbled in other successful ventures within show business, are there any other situations that still make you nervous at all?

Everything! Everything makes me nervous. Before I get on stage, I’m extremely nervous. When I’m about to do a photoshoot, I’m nervous because I always want to make sure it’s different from anything you’ve seen in Africa. I think I’m in a constant state of anxiety! (laughs)

Wow! We’d never be able tell. You always command the stage with so much confidence. When does the switch happen, then? 

The switch is when I actually get on stage. When you get there and you see people get excited, see them sing along to your songs and lose their minds. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t get nervous before getting onstage.

Nadia Naked is arguably the most anticipated Hip Hop album in a long time. What can fans expect?

Fans can expect really good music, for one. It’s a rap album. I’m not doing a trap vibe. I’m going back to where I started, rap. Telling stories. People can expect a really good first album. A lot of people will be very shocked when they hear the album because they have certain expectations of what to expect from a Nadia album…

Talking of preconceived notions, what’s the biggest misconception about you?

I think the biggest misconception about me is that I’m not a hard worker. People think I get a lot of stuff because I’m associated with Cassper, or because I’m part of Family Tree and I’m just a pretty face who looks cute in bum shorts. They think I get the things I get because of the way I look but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I work extremely hard. I’m constantly on the grind and I push the shit out of anything that I’m involved in. I put my own money that I’m not even being paid, just to make sure that everything I’m involved in is amazing. Like Castle Lite last year. I spent more money than I got paid to do the show because I wanted it to be amazing. I’m probably the hardest working rapper in South Africa, period!

Which track on the album is most personal to you?

There’s a song called Kreatures with Kwesta. I’m talking about how the industry can be very dark, in the sense that people around you aren’t always gonna be happy for you. They can be ‘kreatures’!  You’ll have to listen to it to get it.

There’s another song where I speak about slavery. Every black person knows that story, it resonates. There’s also another one with Tshego, where I talk about how getting over past relationships can be so hard, to the point where you want to escape. When the pain is just too much and you want take something to numb it.

How did you decide on the collaborations?

I’ve always been a firm believer of collaborating with people you genuinely respect and have a connection with. I’m not gonna collaborate with someone just because it makes marketing or strategic sense. I met Ycee and the MTV awards. We vibed and I knew I wanted to have a song with the guy. We’ve been wanting to have a song together, and we found the perfect song.

Kwesta and I have actually worked on multiple collaborations from the days when I was signed wit Psyfo. Those songs never got released for whatever reason but I’m glad I was able to get him again for this song. Khuli Chana is someone I’ve respected for a very long time. The type of song that I got him on makes perfect sense. When I played it, I thought ‘this is definitely Khuli Chana vibes’. He murdered it.

You have a catalogue with some really big hits, a TV show, a retail clothing range, and are ambassador for Courvoisier. What has been the biggest milestone in your career?

Definitely the album!

… Your baby!!

You don’t understand! People don’t understand what it actually takes to make an album. Some artists just put songs together and say it’s an album. It ripped me apart and put me back together. I learnt so much about myself.

Nadia Naked comes out on Friday, May 28th, 2019.

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