Toya Delazy on her new Zulu album, life in London and working as an independent artist

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Toya Delazy is happy to release her new album in Zulu and she shares  insight on her move to London.
Toya Delazy is happy to release her new album in Zulu and she shares insight on her move to London.
Oupa Bopape

When she first burst into the industry, her star shone bright. Her name was mentioned in almost all conversations about music and she often made it to the top 10 charts in radio shows.

She dropped single after single with the release of her debut album Due Drop and it wasn't long before she was raking it awards, including a BET nomination.  

Then she took time out to travel the world and find a new home. And now she's ready to make waves again.

Musician Toya Delazy is back with new music. She is working as an independent artist based in London after she parted ways with her record label a few years ago. 

Toya, real name Latoya Nontokozo Buthelezi (31), recently released a new song, Resurrection. 

Speaking to us from her London home, she says the song is about overcoming adversity and rising from the ashes.

“Resurrection is about survival and I wrote it during the lockdown. Initially it was supposed to be our resurrection song when we go back to the party scene. However, it talks about the resurrection of self.

"I had a rough childhood and schooling. Being teased about my hair, skin and even breasts I could never be myself. I went to a school where every time we came back from the holidays they would cut our hair, it was deep and for a long time I could not speak about it. I often shrunk back and now I have fully come into myself and when I wrote resurrection, I thought about how people will cover you and bury you but maybe they are preparing you for your resurrection, because look at me now.”

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Toya last released an album in 2017. After leaving her record label Sony Music, she took time to travel the world and she decided to finally settle in London where she has been living for the past six years.

She now has been embracing her native tongue, Isizulu through her music.

“When I started in the industry there were Zulu songs in my first album but they weren’t getting as much attention as the English songs. I realised that every time I released a Zulu song, I wouldn’t be getting the same support from my record label," she recalls.

"People did not believe that I am South African and there was a disconnect between me and my people. Because as an artist your people need to hear and understand you first. I am proudly Zulu from Emahlabathini and being here in Europe has made me embrace my culture even more.

“There are things I want to say on my music and there is so much power in IsiZulu. The Zulu nation has suffered a great loss from our king and our queen, we are still healing as a nation.”

She was recently nominated for best produced music video for her single Qhawe at the 27th annual South African Music Awards. 

Toya will be releasing her fourth studio album, Afrorave Vol1, on 18 June. She says that this album will  touch on key topics such as money, mental health in the black community and how to conquer the people who try to bring you down.

“Afrorave I've defined as an alternative African rave genre, even though its Zulu people in London love it. This album has helped me find my lane, the songs will be about mental health, money and reinventing yourself and how to get through when people pull you down. It's about what I was going through and you will hear it in the album. It will be in IsiZulu and I want to celebrate my culture,” she tells Drum.

“I decided to move to London because in South Africa I felt like I hit the roof and I was doing the same gigs. I was too comfortable and at 25 I ended my relationship with my label. I struggled a bit when I first moved here because nobody knew who I was [in London]. There are so many artists from London like Adele, Amy Winehouse as well Freddy Mercury. It was worth it because back home I wasn’t receiving support. People want to be where they can be appreciated."

She is determined to succeed as an independent artist. Working independently has given her so much to grow, she says.

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“I'm a business now and I’m an independent artist. I didn’t burn the bridge with SONY but we are working with each other differently now. I know that people have been asking where is Toya but I have been learning the ropes of the business. I blew up so quickly in South Africa and everything happened too fast but I’ve grown. When you carry your water yourself you learn the value of each drop.”

Toya misses home and makes the time to visit often and when she does she takes elements of her culture such as bead work, clothes, spices and even sculptures.

"I am reclaiming myself. You need things that remind you of home. I share my culture with the people of London, when I go back to South Africa I take as much as I can to bring back to London so that I create my own space that feels like home.”

Toya Delazy is planning to release a new single soon. It features Young Mbazo, a group formed by the children of Lady Smith Black Mambazo members.

“I can't wait for people to hear the collaboration that we did together and the element they brought into the song. It will also be part of the album.”

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