Gugulethu meets Berlin: A twist of fate changed the lives of these musicians and here's how

Lui, Khofhi (Photo: Supplied/Florian Schueppel)
Lui, Khofhi (Photo: Supplied/Florian Schueppel)

Cape Town – The Mother City has been kind has always been kind to Berlin artist, Lui Hill and South Africa’s very own artist, Khofhi The King after a series of ups and downs. 

 Feeling down after a long-term relationship fell apart and hit by another disappointment after a record deal had swiftly turned sour as well as the unexpected passing of his father, who Lui was very close to; the artist first headed to South Africa after he was caught in the grip of a lengthy period of misfortune. 

“I wasn’t running away from my problems as they follow you no matter where you go. Travelling just helps you to get to know yourself better, creates distance and gets you closer to the core of things,” he says.

It was while Hill was in Cape Town that he first met Tobias Herder of Filter Music Group, who had flown to the Mother City to sign another act. Tobias instead returned to Berlin with Lui’s signature, where after things started to fall in place for him finally. But that was not the only pre-destined chance meeting that the universe had planned for Lui. While walking through the Company’s Gardens, he heard a magnificent artist that blew him away, which he would later learn would in fact be SA’s very own Khofhi affectionately known as The King of Gugulethu.


Lui left for Berlin to passionately pursue his music career further but returned to Cape Town a year later for another visit: “While I was back, I naturally ended up at the V&A Waterfront at some stage. And low and behold, I once again heard the incredible musician that I heard the year before. I knew I just had to meet him this time. I introduced myself to Khofhi, we started talking, which led to a collaboration that would change both our lives forever. Together, we wrote and recorded the song, Rusty Strings which we’re incredibly excited about to release as a single internationally,” Lui regales.

Best of all, Khofhi now shares in 50% of all royalties earned by Rusty Strings. Berlin married South Africa once again as half of the music video for the song was filmed locally, and the rest in Lui’s country of residence. He enthuses: “All footage was taken with a mobile phone. It was freezing cold and grey in Berlin while I was shooting my part, while it was warm and sunny in Cape Town where Khofhi was shooting. I love the fact that it’s very DIY - shot in two places that can’t be more different.“I was looking for places in Berlin that reminded me of Africa in a very naive way - standing in front of jungle wallpaper, sitting in front of an aquarium, walking around with a lion’s mask…we didn’t want the video to be too serious.”



Talking about the single, Rusty Strings, Lui recalls: “Khofhi told me about what he was like and what his life was like growing up - going to parties as a DJ, staying up late and getting drunk - just like most of his teenage friends from Gugulethu. He was causing some trouble and made his mother worry a lot. Unfortunately, she became very ill and passed away when he was 16. His verses in Rusty Strings are a dialogue between him and his mother. You’ll however have to listen to the song to find out what he has to say.”

So, were there any clashes with cultural differences while collaborating?

Lui answers: “For sure we’re from two completely different cultures and backgrounds, but when you’re in a creative process, music becomes the universal language and differences doesn’t matter. I was just fascinated by Khofhi’s style of rapping and singing - he’s honesty and pure expression is remarkable. Nothing was planned and it was a spontaneous vibe and we both tuned in immediately. We wrote the song together and recorded it right away.”