‘New Mandoza’ on the cards?

By Drum Digital
27 September 2016

Kwaito heavyweight Mandoza may have lost his life, but the man who brought life into his music is preparing to unleash his successor

By Siyabonga Ngcangisa

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Veteran and internationally famed producer Gabi Le Roux is believed to be putting final touches on the songs of some upcoming musicians, and among them, is a young man understood to “have the same touches as Mandoza”.

Mandoza succumbed to a long battle with cancer last week, news that released shockwaves across the world, with even international media platforms running special tributes.

Sources close to Kaleido Media, the multimedia and record label owned by Le Roux, confirmed to DRUM that “all was in order” for the album of the “new Mandoza.”

“It’s a done deal,” said a Johannesburg-based club DJ asking to remain anonymous to protect his relationship with Le Roux. “Gabi himself is very excited about this kid. He was telling us last week when he was in Johannesburg that he can’t wait to unleash him.”

Another source, a radio presenter, told DRUM that the 60-year old multi award-winning producer was “can’t wait” to introduce a new Mandoza.

“Look, Gabi’s biggest talent is to spot talent. Remember, it took him just a few minutes to know that Mandoza was the real deal. I heard about this kid he’s busy grooming behind the scenes,” said the radio host.

It is also understood that with his new protégé, Le Roux will use a similar but updated rhythm he applied on Mandoza’s songs.

“I’m told the boy is talented, just like Mandoza. Apparently he sounds like him, which will suit Gabi well,” said another musician.

When contacted by DRUM, Le Roux, who relocated from Joburg to Cape Town in 1994, became evasive.

“I’m not confirming anything at this stage because there are a lot of artists I work with. I have a new project named Oktopus, ran by young people I work with and we sign artists from mainly rural places,” he said.

He added, “Shortly before he died, Mandoza launched a record label called Nkalakatha Records and his wife Mpho will run it, so I will be working closely with her.”

Pressed further about the new artist earmarked to take over Mandoza and believed to be from Cape Town, Le Roux said. “All I can say is that Cape Town is full of talent. Did you know that I produced Chiskop and Mandoza’s songs from here? All of their songs.”

DRUM also understands that Le Roux has just signed a new female kwaito sensation named Nomtha Wa Kwaito, touted to compete with Durban’s Babes Wodumo.

“Nomtha is talented enough on her own but I won’t rush her. People are already making noise about her but I’m scared she might be overwhelmed by pressure,” said Le Roux. “I have another artist Andrei Damane whose father is Dutch and mom is Xhosa-speaking. I’m also working on releasing Msai, the guy who performed with Mandoza at the SABC concert.”

Le Roux discovered Mandoza, SB, General and Lollipop - a group of boys from Zola, Soweto, who named themselves Chiskop in 1995. The next year, they recorded an album titled Akusheshi, which featured the much-loved song, Uya Klaimer. They went on to record a string of other hit albums, including Sifun’Abantwana, Abasazi, Umuntu Omnyama and Sunday.

At some point in the 90s, Chiskop released a track titled Dlala Mlungu (pump it up, white man), paying tribute to Le Roux.

Sadly though, Mandoza’s death meant that General remained the only surviving member of the group. But he is still very much in the mix, featuring on the album of another female sensation named Melfunkion, a white lady with flair for kwaito, reminding some of Tamara Dey.

Melfunkion has also signed with Le Roux and is scheduled to release a full album next year.

In 1999, Le Roux produced Mandoza’s debut solo album titled 925 Zola South, featuring the smash hit Uzoyithola Kanjani.

The next year, in what was the turning point for both of them, he masterminded Mandoza’s internationally acclaimed crossover track Nkalakatha. It would later be followed by Godoba, Tornado, Phunyuka Be Mpethe and Indoda, among others.

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