Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Reporter
FANS of two of South Africa’s heavyweight entertainers Sjava and Big Zulu are in for a treat as the pair have announced a joint project titled Inkabi Zezwe.
The first single titled Umbayimbayi is slated for release on Friday and will be in partnership with Warner Music Africa (WMA). The initial album is set to be released in May.
Inkabi Zezwe is an isiZulu term of endearment that, when used in the context of music, describes a unified brotherhood that is representative and reflective of the South African nation.
Zezwe meaning “of the nation”, simply puts, Sjava and Big Zulu as two giants who have united for this once-off collaboration as an offering to the nation.
The intermingling of traditional IsiZulu musical forms with contemporary music is the confluence at which the two artistes meet; Sjava makes his way through African Trap and AfroSoul while Big Zulu boisterously asserts by way of Hip-Hop.
Even with these somewhat different approaches to music, both artists share a quaint intrigue for love, hope and family with IsiZulu culture as their common ground.
Consequently, a collaborative album between Sjava and Big Zulu can only highlight the rich tapestry of complex IsiZulu identities, its people, and its ambition. The task they set for themselves – an immersive recording process for a full-length body of work – was personal.
The backdrop of this creative exploit was Bergville, the birthplace, and home to both musicians. This proximity to their hometown meant that the music would be poignant and would carry fragments of the pair’s intimate world, the people that raised them, and the green hills that raise them.
The collaboration with WMA on this project has been well in the works and marks a new horizon for both the label and the artistes.
WMA managing director Temi Adeniji said: “This idea started to percolate of bringing Sjava and Big Zulu together for a one-time project. We wanted to do something really special. Things didn’t immediately fall into place – meeting after meeting, putting all the pieces together, and coming up with a structure that worked for all parties.
“After a few months, we came to a meeting of the minds, and it was like everything clicked. For me, this project signifies so much. It’s the first really big project Warner has done since I came in and given our intention to transform our business and really bring it to the centre of the culture here in the country, it couldn’t be more perfect in my opinion”.
“As much as it may seem like an unexpected collaboration, it also feels so natural. It just makes sense considering who, what, and where both artists represent. An unsurprising surprise. Really excited to witness how South Africa responds to this project” says 1020 Cartel Co-Director, Nothando Migogo.
Said Nkabi Records co-founder Leroy Khoza: “When our ancestors speak our duty is to listen and respond. This collaboration was orchestrated in the spiritual realm. It was supposed to happen and to give healing to our people. This project speaks of everything that affects the lives of our people, it will resonate and connect with people on a higher level. This is the coming together of two spiritual and gifted individuals.”
Additionally, together with Glen21, the pair will reveal details of their nationwide tour and merchandise. – @mthabisi_mthire