MZEE // might need an introduction in the international music arena but his single Mahuwelele is about to take the world by storm and making a name for the little unknown South African musician. Mzee, whose real name is Mzilikazi wa Afrika – the multi-international award winning investigative journalist, has just exchange his pen for a microphone and hoping to scoop more awards as a musician, song writer and producer. Ever since he wrote his first song for his church when he was just 11 years old back in his village in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga Province – near the Kruger National Park, Mzee never looked back but continued writing songs and saving money to build his own recording studio which he calls his first wife.
Having worked with Sello “Chicco” Twala, the man affectionately known as the Quincy Jones of South Africa, Mzee started his own record label and started making his own music, house beats with a heavy African percussion accompanied by African chants.
Who can blame, after all his major musical influences include Nigerian afro-beat superstar Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Senegalese globe trotter Youssou Ndour whose songs are heavily pregnant with percussions and catchy African drums.
Mzee befriended multi-award winning South African house music icons, Revolution, and as well as the man South Africans call the minister of music, Pops Mohamed, and started working with them more than 5 years ago. Mzee and Pops Mohamed collaborated on an amazing song titled Ttxororoca [a !Kwe language for We can dance] and had the San people [Bushmen] recorded live a Kalahari Desert in Namibia singing the chants. Pops Mohamed, one of the few musicians in South Africa to play Kora, has been sharing a stage with Andreas Vollenweider on the Dancing with the lion star’s international tours.
His music later caught the ears of another South African house veteran, Oscar “DJ Oskido” Mdlongwa, who co-owns Kalawa Jazmee Records – one of the most successful independent record labels in South Africa.
DJ Oskido is the man who brought the international acclaimed Masters At Work to South Africa and also collaborated with them. DJ Oskido became Mzee’s mentor and also helped him with his production. As a radio presenter, DJ Oskido sampled some of Mzee’ songs on his show Oskido’s Church Groove, one of the most popular and influential house music shows in South Africa.
Before it was too late, Mzee had caught the attention of international house DJs, producers as well as record labels. DJ Sergio from Italy and DJ Victor da Silver from Switzerland were amongst the first to remix Mzee’s songs. Keeping with the international standard, Mzee also collaborated with other musicians like Clara “Felina” Creantor from France, Brazilian producer Roger Benou, Lynne E from London and award winning Nigerian Jazz musician Kunle Ayo. Mzee also produced songs for Caribbean born American actor Antonio David Lyons [History X, Hotel Rwanda and False Prophets], South African based Senegalese hip-hop crew Nomadji, award winning Ethiopian reggae star Johnny Ragga, and Israel based diva Estelle as well as multi-award winning Shangaan Disco queen Esta M amongst others.
He also worked with award winning Zimbabwean international star Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, who once graced the cover of the influential Time Magazine, and remixed one of his classic songs Neria for the dance floor. The song became one of the best house songs in Botswana for 2008. His international break came in 2008 when he signed a deal with Ocha Records, a USA based independent record label owned by Carlos “Casamena” Mena and Osunlade.
His album titled Mahuwelele [the title might change] is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2009 with remixes by well-known international house DJs and producers like the Paris based Manoo, Halo from City Deep, Boddhi Satva, who is based in Belgium, Tommy Bones, Brazilian Soul Crew and Casamena. An excited Mzee says he is ready to conquer the world and invade radio charts as well as dance floors.
He says: “I am excited about my album, I have sampled my first single Mahuwelele that was remixed by Manoo in South Africa just to build the momentum and create the hype and the song is taking the industry by storm.
“I have every single house DJ in South Africa asking me for it and every house cat is looking forward to my album. All I can say is that South Africa is more than ready for me and everybody is looking forward to this project.”
Mzee thanks Casamena for believing in him and help to nourish his talent as well as taking his music to another level.
He says: “Casamena is the man; his radio hour show is trend setter, almost every house music lover and DJ in this world listen to the Casamena Radio Hour. I am looking forward to been the ambassador for Ocha Records in South Africa and make a major impact in the music industry.”