One such artist whose artistry cannot be measured is Maraza who we recently had an interview with. Born S’phamandla Mhlongo in Stanger, Kwa-Zulu Natal he has evolved into one of the finest stars South Africa has to offer. Humble and subtle in nature his persona transforms into a wordsmith and beast when he delivers his work. Rated as a creative genius he is one with the words and this he developed through his passion as a poet.The singer, rapper, producer, poet and television presenter is a force to be reckoned with. We managed to sit down with the star and this is how it went:
What does music mean to you?
Music is everything and the rest! Music is my friend, my therapist and my confidant. I can’t imagine my life, or any life for that matter without music.
You were nominated for the same award as AKA in 2009, what has your journey been like so far?
Definitely far different from his. Lots more downs than ups. Lots of trying and failing, fighting and begging, crying and waiting, but I always turned back to the music. I have worked NON-STOP for over 6 years.
Where did you grow up and what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Many places, but Nyathikazi in the KZN north coast town of Stanger is the most critical to the man I am today. I wanted to be an international superstar, but I initially believed I had a better chance of being a lawyer or engineer.
What impact did losing your father at such a young age have on you?
Zero, until I was about 23. I mean yes, life was much harder. My mom was accused of killing him, so you can imagine the can of worms THAT comes with. Also, we were way poorer, less stable coz we didn’t have a home, I wandered, but I never wondered! I accepted. Emotionally, I was fine. Or so I thought. TODAY? I am a mess! I cry quite often about it. And it gets worse the more my life gets better, and my life is sooooo good right now! Every achievement is bitter sweet, because I always wonder what he would have said or felt about it. And I have this soul-wrecking desire to KNOW what he thinks and how he feels about what I have achieved for myself, his wife, and his grand kids. I miss him so much!
How did your alias come about?
MarazA was born from an evolution of pet names I was teased by. Started out as Sparks.
Where did the inspiration for Gwan come from?
It comes from growing up in Stanger. The chorus, that is. Sfana Ka Lo is a language I spoke and watched my elders speak. The verse are just rap hunger, to be honest.
When can we expect your debut album, ‘Blind’ to hit the shelves?
August. Latest September.
How did the transition from poetry to rap come about?
Quite naturally. It just seamlessly evolved.
Where do you think SA Hip Hop can be best monetized?
In brand synergies. We are an incredibly influential force. Young people, both urban, suburban, AND rural, live and breathe he culture now. More so each day.
What do you think can be done to improve SA Hip Hop at this point?
Rappers need to put on better performances and take care of their brands more, and promoters need to value us and respect us more.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
World stage. Legendary status here. Revered performer and music pioneer. Inspirational figure for young rural kids coming from nothing.
How has watching SA Hip Hop grow shaped your perspective on music?
Music is a bigger thing than Hip Hop. I mean Hip Hop is a WAY OF life, but music IS LIFE. My interaction with hip hop feeds into my greater interaction with music and life in general. I think faster but think better. I look for more impactful ways to say the same thing.
Top 5 SA Hip Hop artists?
2. Skwatta Kamp
Top 5 SA Hip Hop songs on your playlist right now?
1. MarazA – GWAN
2. M2KanE – Float
3. Jeii – Hold Up ft. MarazA
4. Stanky Deejay – Spotlight ft. MarazA and Gemini Major
5. Ginger Breadman – Swaggaphobia
What advice would you give to an up and coming rapper?
Invest in yourself.
Any word of wisdom to the youth?
Invest in yourself some more. Protest without fire.