DJ Maphorisa on his 10-year rise to the top

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He is not new to the industry, in fact, he has been in it for a decade, if not more, DJ Maphorisa is a household name who has been dropping one chart topper after the other, however, he is just realising his calling only now.

His voice and tunes cannot be mistaken and fans go crazy at his shows, however, because of the coronavirus they have to contend with what is prevailing, they will miss his gigs for some time. Some of the preventive measures against the pandemic, is maintaining social distancing and shows have been banned.

“People actually don’t know but I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years and I feel only now I’m becoming the artist I used to dream of becoming,” he told DRUM magazine. “So those who have joined the journey now, they aren’t late.”

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His hit, Phoyisa, has become a national anthem gaining airplay in many stations and getting played over and over all across Mzansi. The hit amapiano track which Maphorisa and Kabza De Small released late last year, has won him a new legion of fans.

DJ Maphorisa real name Themba Sekowe, said he is very humbled and grateful by how fans have received his music.

“When we released the Scorpion Kings album, we really just randomly dropped a body of work because we had too much music that we had done together,” he said. “The response is definitely something we didn’t anticipate – and that’s what has made the journey so exciting.”

Born and bred in Soshanguve, Tshwane, Maphorisa has always felt music running down his veins. He has worked with and has received production acknowledgements from a number of prominent artists including Wizkid, Kwesta, Uhuru, among others.

“I collected more than 10 000 music files on my computer. Every day after school, I would run home to share my music with friends. Music is my life and it comforts me when I’m sad,” he once told the Daily Sun.

Everything that the down to earth artist touches turns to gold, he has identified talent and see it blossom under his nose.

“Maphorisa’s back must be so sore from carrying the whole music industry. Man’s had no off days this whole year. As individuals we are probably the hardest working people I know. We both have our strengths and weaknesses but professionally they balance out and that makes everything work,” he said.

Despite the fame and achievements, the talented DJ doesn't monopolise credit, he has given due recognition to Kabza whom he collaborated with.

He defended his friend on twitter, when a fan criticised him.

“You don’t even know what was going on before Kabza became this Kabza, now shut da f**k up,” Maphorisa wrote.

His sentiments stirred a cold war on twitter that went as far as sucking in Prince Kaybee, the two ended up arguing over music ownership.

“Samthing Soweto owns his Masters Kabza De Small owns his Masters DJ Maphorisa I own my Masters [sic],” he wrote, and later mentioned Kaybee, as someone without rights to his own music.

Maphorisa always speaks his mind, even when it involves fellow artists. “Do you know what’s the difference? I empower and the world doesn’t. Facts. I wouldn’t say I’m controversial, what I tweet and post is real, I am human. Half the time I have to stand up for myself,” he told Drum.

The renowned DJ would love to see a world where artists own their music.

“I really think people, especially up and-coming musicians, need to understand the business of music and how certain things actually work. I wasn’t given those opportunities as a young DJ or producer. I literally had to learn as things came my way. So, by tweeting, I was using my platform to educate the people,” he said.

It boggles his mind how his innocent tweet ended up blowing out of proportion and degenerated into a war.

“The delivery . . . Maybe how I put it wasn’t communicated correctly. At the time I tweeted my real thoughts. [The twar] wasn’t the desired effect but it eventually got the right attention,” he said.

Some have in certain instances mocked him for his command of the queen's language, and has admitted not being best at it.

“Nna, ke ngwana wa kasi [which, loosely translated, means, “I’m a child from the township”]. English is not my mother tongue. I have actually improved a lot. I wouldn’t call it my thing, sekogwa [English] is not my thing but I am trying my best with it,” he said.

Luckily, music transcends language barriers and making hits is what he’s best at.

Maphorisa has worked with a number of prominent artists the likes of Cassper Nyovest, Shekhinah not to mention the contribution he made to superstar Drake’s hit single One Dance featuring Wizkid and Kyla.

“We did something small when I was in LA with Wizkid. He sent something to Wizkid and because I’m always with Wizkid I just added a few things . . . I didn’t produce the song, but I did get a credit,” he told Gareth Cliff on CliffCentral.com in 2016.

When Beyoncé visited Mzansi for the Global Citizen Festival in 2018, she acknowledged him as one to the greatest artists in the country.

“That’s something I know has allowed the genre to grow within itself,” said the DJ who is taking the lockdown period to work on music behind the closed door.

While his much talked about show Scorpion Kings Live Concert at Sun Arena has been put on hold, Maphorisa is planning a series of live streams on social media for his fans.

“Content is how people will make money during these times, but in these tough times it all boils down to what I said about understanding the business of music. Performances are not the only form of income for us and we should explore as much as possible,” he said.


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