Cape Town - It’s the track to get the weekend started and a club DJ wouldn’t be caught dead without it on their playlist. It’s one you can’t help but move to – little wonder the guy who created it has the name Mshunqisi, which means someone who brings life to a party.
Gqom track Pakisha is Mzansi’s new favourite and the man behind the magic is Anele Dladla (29), otherwise known as Dladla Mshunqisi. He’s best known for hits like Memeza and for featuring on Distruction Boyz’s banger Omunye – and it’s clear his star is on the rise.
DRUM pinned down the larger-than-life Mshunqisi to find out more about his journey to the big time and what makes him tick.
How it all began
He’s carefree, cheerful and loves to make people laugh so it’s no surprise his name ended up in lights. He’s known for throwing the best parties in his hometown of KwaMashu, Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal and as the son of well-known local taxi owner Sese Dladla, he didn’t lack for resources.
“Everyone knew Dladla could throw a party,” he says.
“I wasn’t even famous at the time but I would invite the famous DJs to my parties. Even teachers at my school, Northwood, loved to chill with me because I was always full of jokes.”
A party wasn’t a party until he got there, he adds. “Uma kufika uDladla kuzoshuqa (When he arrives it will be lit),” people often told him. And that’s how the name Mshunqisi came about. Fame came knocking after someone made a video of him at one of his family functions.
“We were just chilling and all of a sudden it went quiet and I jumped at the opportunity to entertain people.” He did a one-man comedy routine called Inavara, which one of the guest filmed and posted online – and it soon went viral.
“I was getting calls from people to come and emcee at their events.” Artist Benny Maverick heard about Mshunqisi and suggested they get together in the studio. The first song he featured on was titled Memeza – which means speak out. While it was created as a party song, it later became a call to fight abuse against women and children.
Before long hitmakers Distruction Boyz came calling and featured him on Omunye, which won record of the year at this year’s Samas.
The makings of a hit
He was “just fooling around” when he came up with his hit Pakisha, he says. “I really didn’t think it would do so well.” It happened after Omunye won the SABC’s New Year’s Eve summer song of the year award and Mshunqisi, DJ Tira and Distruction Boyz were all chilling at the beach. “They heard me saying, ‘Imoto ifikile bhanoyi landile stimela s’ngenile iteksi ibiziwe pakish’ umthwalo uvele uhambe (The car has arrived, the plane has landed, the train is here, the taxi has been called, pack your bags and hit the road)’.
They all went crazy and we decided to take it to the studio and turn it into a song.” And a hit was born.
“People say I have a God-given gift but my creativity depends on how good the beat is. When the beat is good, everyone knows Dladla is going to kill this song.”
Food for thought
Yet music isn’t his first love. He’s always loved cooking more. “I used to follow my mother around the kitchen because I loved eating. When she cooked something I would be interested in how it was made and asked her to teach me.” When he was 16 he started working for a hospitality and events management company in Durban North.
“I’d always wanted to be a chef so I needed to start building my skills in the kitchen. “I’d come home with different recipes and cook for the family. I cook the best pasta and curries.” He loved cooking so much he started his own catering company in 2011, Amathiba Catering and Enterprise, but put it on hold last year to focus on his music.
“I’m going back to it soon because I think I know how to balance the two. And I’m planning on opening a restaurant in KwaMashu too.” He knows how to run a business thanks to his dad, who taught his three sons and two daughters all they need to know. “If I had to take over his taxi business one day I’d be able to do it with my eyes closed,” he says.
No matter how successful a person is, there are always people out there waiting to pick on something negative about you. For Mshunqisi, it’s his weight. He’s always been big, he tells DRUM. “I think I was seven years old when I started to gain weight and I just learnt to embrace it.” He’s been called all sorts of demeaning names such as sdudla – fatty – but he doesn’t let it get to him.
“I laugh at people who make remarks about my weight. I’m happy the way I am – this is the way God created me. I’ve never let people bully me because nothing brings me down.”
Still, he knows not everyone is as comfortable in their skin as he is and that self-esteem can take a real knock when you’re body shamed. This is why he’s decided to collaborate with gqom singer Busiswa and house DJ Heavy K on a song celebrating bigger bodies. “The song says, ‘Ayikho into ewrong ngokuba mkhulu (There is nothing wrong with being big)’. People must live their lives and be happy and not let other people make them feel otherwise,” Mshunqisi explains.
The song will be included on his 13-track CD to be released later this year.
Easy does it
He’s famous, young, easy-going and a good cook – sounds like a great catch. So does he have a special someone in his life? Not at the moment, Mshunqisi says. And when he does find someone he’ll hesitate to call her his girlfriend “until we’ve been together for at least three years”. He believes the reason there are so many divorces is because people rush into marriage. “They don’t understand that love is patient.”
But Mshunqisi doesn’t have time for romance right now, he adds. He wants to focus on building his catering company and finishing his album. Music and cooking – those are the things that keep him sane and happy