‘I’m doing things differently this time around’ – Ab Crazy on his comeback

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Ab Crazy's new single Joy features and is co-produced by Nhlonipho Dlamini.
Ab Crazy's new single Joy features and is co-produced by Nhlonipho Dlamini.
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He is known for making timeless hip-hop hits.

Years ago, he gave South Africans songs like Rands and Nairas and Kisses with Fifi Copper, which were played by almost every radio station.

But then he suddenly vanished from the limelight.

Four years later, musician Tumelo ‘AB Crazy’ Didakwane makes a return to music with his new single, Joy, featuring and produced by Nhlonipho Dlamini. 

“I didn’t really disappear. When hip-hop took off, we made big hits and everything was okay until Amapiano came and we needed to make space for the new genre or join the bandwagon,” he tells Drum.

He decided to stick to making hip-hop music with a touch of soul. When he took a break, he also left the record company to which he was signed.

“I left Kalawa Jazmee and decided to take a break for two years. When I was getting ready to make a comeback, then Corona [virus] happened, and I had to wait another two years.” 

Ab Crazy left Kalawa Jazmee for greener pastures. 

“I learned a lot in the four years that I was there. But I needed a young, vibrant company that would understand me, and my brand and they allowed me the opportunity to look for someone until I found Jozi Entertainment where I am currently.” 

He left the record label on good terms and still has a good relationship with label owner Oskido.

“I’m remaining true to myself but I’m doing things differently this time around. Knowing what I learned when I was at Kalawa, I feel I can hold my own and know the kind of management and people I want to work with.”

The lockdown has also not been easy for Ab Crazy but he had support from his family. 

“Many artists suffered during this time. My mom came through for me and helped with bills for a year. She was really my lifeline. Music is my main source of income. Everything I do is music related and when that was on pause, I had to turn to family.” 

During this time, he also lost a good friend, DJ Dimplez, who died after a sudden brain haemorrhage. 

“He wanted me to come and perform at his bar and restaurant. We were talking about how the pandemic affected us all and he was trying to get business off the ground again. I was going to support him, and I was shocked when I heard what happened,” he says. 

“I wasn’t in Joburg at the time the time but his death got me scared and showed me that everything is temporary and you need to live life to the fullest.”   

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Since his career took off a decade ago, Ab Crazy, unlike his name suggests, has kept a clean reputation. He has kept his reputation clean since his career began and never made a single controversial headline, which some perceived to be ‘boring.’

But AB Crazy says sometimes being “boring” has had both good and bad outcomes. 

“My character has saved me from a lot of things in the music industry,” he says. 

“A lot of artists make bad headlines for the wrong reasons and lose out on certain jobs because of that. I am not much of an outgoing person. I have always kept a small circle and people assumed that I think I am better or arrogant,” he says. 

“People always want you to be a certain way, especially when you’re an artist,” he says.

“When you’re quiet, they misunderstand you. I’ve always had to explain why I don’t want to go to parties after shows. It's not easy to be a clean artist without scandals. It can have its ups and downs. I’ve missed out on certain things and money; projects and I wasn’t a part of it or missed out on making songs with certain people.” 

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For his comeback single, Ab Crazy has gone the gospel route. 

“We were just playing around in the studio, liked the beat that we ran with it. It has a gospel feel to it and I decided to take that direction. But I also wanted to tap into other genres and to see if I wanted to be versatile,” he says. AB Crazy is currently working on an EP. 

“We are not doing albums anymore. The sound has really changed from when I started out, but I am still soulful,” he says. 

“The change of management has also given me a different direction. I am still glad to be in the industry. Not many people are able to leave and come back after taking a break.” 

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