From hustler to amapiano hitmaker: Young Stunna dominates on the dance floor

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At 21 years old he become an overnight international music sensation with the release of his new album Notumato.
At 21 years old he become an overnight international music sensation with the release of his new album Notumato.

He is one of the biggest and loved Amapiano artists on the rise. His rise to fame was quite sudden.

Sandile Fortune Msimango (21), known amongst his following as Young Stunna, can barely walk down the street without being asked to stop for a selfie.

He has been able to change his life around and become a household name.

The Kabza De Small’s Piano Hub signee broke the internet when he released his album Notumato with the smash hit ‘Adiwele’ which got attention from international fans and stars such as Drake after being played by club DJ Uncle Waffles.

The 16-track album has guest appearances from hitmakers Kabza De Small, Big Zulu, Black Motion, Blxckie, DJ Maphorisa, Daliwonga, and Madumane, just to mention a few.

Determined to dominate the amapiano scene, Young Stunna alongside Melo and Sleezy also dropped the party anthem, ‘Bopha’. 

With his song currently at number one on national and international stations, Young Stunna tells Drum that he has not even begun. 

“There is still more coming. It’s Young Stunna season,” he says.

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He started making music when he was 13 years old and took the decision to pursue music as a career. He grew up listening to Kwaito and R&B and has fond memories of his late grandmother listening to Brenda Fassie who later became his idol.

He got the name Young Stunna from his fans in Daveyton where he grew up. 

“I used to go by my name Sandile and one day when I got off stage, I heard girls call me ‘a stunner’ but also said I was young. So I played on that and called myself Young Stunna,” he says.

Last year he was only known in his township of Daveyton, but by February 2021 he had the biggest songs in the country. 

“I didn’t think my fame would come so fast. I wanted it to be gradual, but I have Kabza and Maphorisa grooming me and they believed God’s time was now.” 

Before joining Piano Hub he described himself as just regular a “Hip-Hop Bru.”

It was only in February when he met Kabzza De Small and Maphorisa through a friend and they did their first song together, that he believed he might have potential.

The following week, Kabza phoned him again to come to their studio and work on a few songs. 

“The first song we did was Icamagu, then Adiwele which are both in the album, and from there, things took off,” he says.

“I’m versatile, I rap, I sing, I do RnB and new school Kwaito. But I decided I wanted to do Amapiano because I could hear a bit of Hip Hop in it.”

The song Adiwele was big in the streets before he officially released it and he completed his album within a few months. 

“Adiwele was me thanking God, my ancestors, and everyone supportive. The few songs I did blew up and through them, I got to meet people and work with so many people in a short space of time,” he says.” It’s still a shock to my system.”

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He began his music career as a Hip-Hop artist, performing at local events for free in his neighbourhood. 

“I sang, rapped, R&B. I did everything all under the Hip-Hop umbrella,” he says. “But I hardly got paid for it. I used to get a lot of free gigs and favours. I didn’t care about the money that much. I didn’t know I had to be paid to perform. I did music as a passion and I knew one day If I push hard enough, my big break will come. But I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly and so aggressively,” he says. 

While pursuing his career, Young Stunna was a street hawker selling clothes, sweets, cigarettes, and anything that could sustain his music dream. 

“I sold everything. I had to make money for me to be able to record my music and look good while performing,” he says. 

“I needed to maintain my image even though I wasn’t making money from music. I knew it would eventually pay off.” 

Coming from a musical home, he was born with rhythm. His mom was a vocalist, his late dad was a rapper, boxer, and tavern owner and his family owned a church. 

“Every family gathering was a musical experience, So I grew up loving music and nothing else. My uncle was also a musician, so my talent came from both maternal and paternal sides,” he says.

“But following my dream was tough. Life hasn’t been easy.”

The eldest out of four kids, Young Stunna was raised by his great grandmother and his mom.

“After high school, I couldn’t study, so I had to hustle and selling whatever I could get my hands on paid the bills."

But now those hard times are over. “I could say I’m a breadwinner now.”

Under the mentorship of DJ Maphorisa and Kabza the Small, he says their grooming elevated his thinking. 

“I dream bigger now and I understand anything is possible. They believe in me so much and every song is treated like a masterpiece.” 

Young Stunna loves to make people dance, but says every song needs to have a meaning for him. 

“Every song needs to leave a person moved and it must have some kind of meaning.”

His favourite track in the album Notumato is Ethembeni where he sings about never losing hope despite any obstacles and working hard.

“Writing that song was very emotional for me. It validated my dreams and that my life has a purpose. Ethembeni took me back to all the hardships I’ve been through,” he says.

When he has solidified his music career, he will introduce his love for fashion and acting. “I am humbled and I always want to be consistent. I am hardworking and once I have built a solid foundation, I will show my versatility,” he says.

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