‘I make more money now’ – Rapper Saudi on being his own boss

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Saudi is now the CEO of his own record company Ovloe Monopoly.
Saudi is now the CEO of his own record company Ovloe Monopoly.
Gubazi Hut/Supplied

When he was still working on his first mixtape after he started his new company, it was leaked months before its official release. 

Now he's ready to release his second mixtape, Msotra Don’t Die since leaving Ambitiouz Entertainment a few years ago and he's praying the same thing won't happen. 

His first mixtape, which he released in 2020 titled The Drip's Leak, was leaked after he was hacked. 

Rapper Anele Mbisha, popularly known as Saudi, hopes that won’t happen to his upcoming project. 

“I’m praying that it does not happen this time around because when it happened, I was devastated,” he tells Drum. 

Many thought he leaked the mixtape as a publicity stunt, but he says the project was far from even being done when it made its way to the internet. 

“I didn’t leak the songs myself. I was really gutted to find they were all over the net. I figured let me put together a little project and release it officially. I was not finished at all when it was leaked. I had to quickly put the effort into promoting it but it was my first time having to promote my project. It was a learning experience. I luckily signed a distribution deal with The Orchard,” he says. 

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The new mixtape has 12 tracks and features only Emtee. 

“I have one feature. I wasn’t planning on having any features but Emtee uyafosta, he insisted,” he jokes. 

“I hadn’t put out music in such a long time, I wanted the project to be sorely about me and my talent. But because I am close with Sjava and Emtee, having them on my projects doesn’t feel like a feature. They are part of the process.” 

Saudi wants people to pick their favourite songs in Msotra Don’t Die but he is passionate about the intro titled Father’s Day. 

“Father’s Day stands out because it speaks about what I’m going through. I never had a father and my understanding of the alpha male is someone who takes care of their family,” he says. 

“My mission was buying a home and being the father figure I never had one day, for his name’s sake. That matters to Anele Mbisha, not Saudi. It’s a goal and a dream. That’s the intro of my mixtape. Fortunately, I am not a father yet. I am at a point in my life where I understand how important it is to have a father and I have days where I wish I did.” 

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At one point he was untouchable and was part of a group of artists signed to Ambitious Entertainment.

Their music made top charts on radio stations across the country. His music was featured in the Marvel Comics film, Black Panther. The list of artists which included Sjava, Emtee, A Reece, Fifi Cooper, DJ Citi Lyts, and B3nchMarQ who have all since left the record label.

Saudi now runs his own record company Ovloe Monoloply and once he got the hang of it, the business has been running smoothly. 

“I am the only artist signed to the label because I believe in myself,” he says. 

Things have been easier than he imagined they would be since he left the label and he is happy to be in charge of all his finances. 

“Being my own boss put my career in my hands,” he says. 

“I am making more money now. But I have way more responsibilities.”

Unlike other artists who left their previous record company disgruntled, Saudi says he had it good. 

“There’s no need for me to speak ill of people. I would never want someone to betray my trust, hence I don’t do the same to them. Ambitiouz wasn’t a weird slave trade. I was getting paid good. I left on good terms because we had a good, professional relationship.”  

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Being your own boss is not easy and when he first left the record label, he was anxious about whether he had made the right decision. 

“My biggest worry and anxiety was whether or not I had made the right decision, or will this work out and what if people shut doors at. What if bad things will be said and people won’t want to do business with me. But I found that none of that happened. It was all in my head, it doesn’t exist,” he says. 

“That was a huge fear and again being young and being around people who have a passion for music kept me motivated.” 

He does at times miss the comfort of having everything taken care of by a record company, but he has no regrets about running his own company.

“I won’t lie, I miss the great times and memories at Ambitious,” he says. 

“It was a fun time in my life with friends. We were doing this for the first time and being successful with friends whom you came with from the bottom felt good. It was crazy. But at this point in my life, I need more as a man, recording artist, a business, and much more than what I was offered in the past,” he says.

“The reason I left was for me to be able to grow. I know I needed a certain amount of information to be in the driver's seat and I am still learning every day.” 

Saudi says in the process he learned that he can't do it all by himself and needs a team. 

“Making time for both music and business was a big challenge at first but I learned I can’t do everything by myself,” he says. 

“I can’t be my own manager, CEO, create the music, rehearse and go to performances. I learned delegating and giving people positions and finding a system that works for me and we can all make money,” he says.

His goal is to be one of the biggest artists in Africa. 

“I want to be the biggest artist in my continent. I want to do it while having a sound that is my own and truly South African like it’s always been. I want to get to a Burna Boy or Black Coffee level. I have all the time to do it and the potential to do it. It’s really something that matters to me,” he says. 

But he knows he needs to put in the work and also collaborate with other creatives. 

“I love artists who are creative and who support each other. Collaboration is the secret to success in this business.”

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