Maraza makes a return to music after dealing with depression

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Maraza makes a return to the music with his new single Ungithandile featuring Lilyfaith.
Maraza makes a return to the music with his new single Ungithandile featuring Lilyfaith.

Just five years ago, he was a big deal. His career was at an all-time high and he was collaborating with big names in the music industry including Kwesta, C-Live, and Makwa.

He entered the Hip-Hop music scene with vigor and showed off his rap skills. He sings the title songs on the BET family show Black Tax starring Jo-Anne Reyneke, Motlatsi Mafatshe, and Sne Dladla.

After he released his single Gwan, Sphamandla Mhlongo (32), popularly known by the name Maraza, was untouchable. He was one of the few rappers using Fanagalo, a language popular in the mines and a mixture of isiZulu, Tswana, and Tsonga.

For his creativity, he won over many fans. But all the attention came with a pressure that he admits that he wasn't able to  handle, and in 2019 he vanished from the limelight. 

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The last project he released was Lost and Found in 2020, but it doesn’t do as well as he expected.

“When I dropped the EP I was already tired of the limelight,” he says. 

“The album didn’t do well because I was not well. There was too much pressure for me to release music that sounded like my single Gwan,” he says.

The attention and fame became too much.

“I was always booked, and it became too much for me. It triggered past issues that I thought I had dealt with. It triggered my depression.”

Maraza learned that he had depression and anxiety in 2015, just before getting married. 

“I realised I was depressed during the time of my wedding. I was constantly crying. My wife thought t was tears of joy, but it was joy, sorrow, and grief at the same time.” 

Maraza imagined how his late father would feel seeing him get married and whether he would have approved his life decisions.

“My dad died in 1992 and I wanted validation from him so much on whether I was making the right decisions in my life,” he says.

“I became sad and incredibly depressed because of this.” 

But he worked on his mental health and making music behind the scenes was therapeutic.

"I spent a lot of time at home. I visited family and lived a simple and normal life away from the fame," he says.

“I make music to heal myself and others and it helped,” he says. It was in 2016 when he released Gwan that the depression kicked in again.

“The fame took a toll on me,” he says. In 2019, he decided to take a break from the limelight and carried on working behind the scenes making music for films and television.

“I took a hiatus but I still made music and worked. I turned down many bookings and returned payments because I wanted to work on myself.”

Seeing his peers enjoying music and doing well while he sat at home dealing with his issues was uncomfortable.

“I was mad! I hated seeing people have fun.

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But Maraza now makes a return to the music with his new single Ungithandile featuring Lilyfaith to remind his fans that he is still one of the best lyricists in the country.

“I had to think carefully about making a comeback, and plan what sound I will be doing and I decided to be myself. I don’t need to change to try and adapt to the times. People loved my sound for different reasons.”

The father of three says his family has been supportive through all his decisions.

"At Home, I have a good support structure. I choose the type of people I keep around me my music, I address some of my issues.”

Next year Maraza will release the second edition of Lost and Found, a 16-track album featuring Yougsta CPT, Emtee, and Tellaman.

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