MBUSO KHOZA’S performance at the Market theatre this weekend is akin to an adult meeting their former high school bully after years, for the first time. It’s life coming into full circle.
Having left home in 1999, to pursue his dreams in the City of Gold, Khoza found himself homeless for months. “As a young man around 2000, I would always sit outside the Market Theatre and see artists walk in there and I would dream of performing there one day,” Khoza tells me.
Nearly 20 years later, he will for the first time have his own show at the historic Joburg Theatre. “This is the most fulfilling thing for me” he says over the telephone.
His one man show this weekend will be the first time he headlines his own concert at the Market. “I performed here in 2013, doing backing vocals for Mam’Sibongile Khumalo, and it was around the same time of the year.”
I talk to him just after the completion of his first rehearsal, hours after arriving in Joburg from KwaZulu-Natal. “We left Durban at 1AM and got here around 6:00 in the morning.”
His band is based in Gauteng, while he’s down in the KZN, but this won’t affect his performance he says. He performed with the same band at this year’s Joy Of Jazz which received warm reviews. Comparing a performance at the Theatre to that of a festival he says “It’s [the theatre] more intimate and there’s no space for talking, but just the music.”
“Performing at festivals like the Joy of Jazz, is different because there are different artists there- it often feels rushed because you need to make way for the next artist. A show like this one this coming weekend is different because people specifically buy a ticket to see you- so the setup and preparation will be different,” Khoza says.
He has two supporting acts for his show this weekend, Zawadi Ya Mungu and Nandi Mzobe from the Legacy of KZN Mentorship Program who both have been performing with Khoza on his African Heritage Ensamble. Part of his performance this weekend will be him presenting research he’s done on heritage together with the Wits School Of Arts. “I’ll be narrating it myself, but a part of it will be music.”
His set will include jams from his critically acclaimed 2012 debut album Zilindile, together with some of his new compositions. The concert will take place for three consecutive days but Khoza says he’ll make some tweaks for each day.
JUST as those South African political activists stuck in exile years prior 1994, Reason’s fans are eagerly waiting for the release of Azania.
Yesterday the kat from the Eastrand asked his followers on Twitter, if they’d be mad at him should his album come out next year.
“The whole point of me actually putting out this tweet, to be honest with you was to create a dialogue between me and my fans. I think in the business world they would call this market research,” says Reason speaking to Tha Bravado telephonically.
Recording of the album is finished and getting mixed and mastered as I type this. “At the end of the day, as great of an album you may have, the business aspect always has to kick in, you know. Because you have to follow through with a launch, you have to follow through with marketing it, shooting videos, taking those videos out, making sure that you have maximum reach, radio airplay…there’s a lot to consider.”
Just a day before Freedon Day Reason released the heartfelt album title track Azania, which has US producer Swizz Beatz and renowned songstress Sibongile Khumalo on vocals. He’s also dropped the grimy Wu Tang featuring Frank Casino.
“We live in a world where, I could’ve asked that question, and people could’ve said we don’t give a damn about your album. Because there’s so many artists out there and so many albums out there, it was very easy for the consumer to turn around and say to be honest with you, we don’t really give a fuck when you’re dropping this record.”
The rapper’s fans clearly do give a fuck, looking at the salvo of responses to Reason’s tweet. “Uzakube uyaseqhela,”tweeted Linda Majuba. While one Malakia Motaung said in a tweet “No need to drop this year, early next year would do sir. Although the world need this project, we are patient.” An unforeseen fan and clear competitor, AKA said “end of April…we will be cool.”
But Bheki Nondabula’s suggestion is what Reason seems to have heeded most. “Release a young single to keep our heads ringing till you’re [sic] ready G…so unfortunate that the Azania single is so slept on,” the tweet read. In a few weeks Reason will release Gemini Major produced Osuna Mang. Just as the song Azania, Osuna Mang sees the rapper embracing a group effort again, in the form of roping in Kwesta and Kid X.
“Funny, the next single was supposed to be a single I do by myself which is a song called Nkosi Yam’ and it’s only recently when we added two songs to the album, that Osuna Mang ke le teng came out. The sentiment of Azania (the album) was built around collaboration though, but not just collaboration with artists, but collaboration with producers, collaboration with writers, and collaboration with singers,”
Recorded on a farm in Magaliesburg over two weeks, he says creation of his fourth studio album was guided by accepting and receiving advice from the aforementioned collaborators who came to add to the project. “It’s such a strong album because it has so many ideas, from so many different people.” Reason says.
He didn’t say when the album would come out, but if the first song that came out is anything to go by, then this album is indeed a strong project that should be worth the wait.