By Kenneth Mlambo
In kwaito music, a music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa during the 1990s, stars come and go as rapidly as the latest music fad, Mandoza is the real thing, a genuine talent with loads of real star quality. It first became apparent when he surfaced as part of kwaito group, Chiskop, which he formed after he was released from jail with his other three childhood friends.
In 1999 when Mandoza started a solo career, he came to the attention of the South African Kwaito music lovers with his smash hit album called 9 – II – 5 Zola South, which not only sold over 100 000+ copies, but also grabbed him the title of “Best Newcomer” at the FNB 2000 music awards. Following up his success, in 2000 he released a smash hit album called “Nkalakatha”, which the title track became one of the first crossover songs to all South African music cultures.
The album produced a smash-hit in the form of the title track which surprised many in the South African music industry by becoming a genuine crossover song, hitting the top of the charts on both traditionally black and white radio stations. Few albums in the pretty over-subscribed kwaito market sell as good as well the 9115 Zola South and Nkalakatha.
In 2001 both albums, the “9115 Zola South and Nkalakatha” earned Mandoza Awards for Best Kwaito Music Album in the South African Music Awards. The album’s title song “Nkalakatha” was also named Song Of The Year at the same awards event, in a category that was entirely based on popular opinion. On that same year, Mandoza scooped five of the 10 categories at the Metro Music Awards – Best Kwaito Artist, Best Male Vocal, Best Album Nkalakatha, Best Styled Artist and Song Of The Year for his smash hit “Nkalakatha” confirming once and for all his superstar status, in the kwaito music industry.
Mandoza or M’du Tshabalala as is his given name takes his music very importantly as he sings in several of South Africa’s languages, including English, Afrikaans, Zulu, and Xhosa, to accommodate wide local and international listeners. In 2004 Mandoza was voted 77th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.
Mandoza’s music puts a more constructive message into kwaito. His music makes everyone country-wide to listen and dance to his music because people believe his music makes sense, especially to social problems that exist in Africa.