Rising star Just Bheki on signing with Skhanda World, his musical influences and love of dance

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Bheki Shabalala says took a liking to music and entertainment because of his grandmother.
Bheki Shabalala says took a liking to music and entertainment because of his grandmother.

He had plans to be the best dancer in Mzansi. He envisioned himself on world stages dancing along to the hottest songs of the moment. 

But life had other plans and it wasn't meant to be. But that didn't stop him from pursuing a career in the entertainment industry and his perseverance has paid off. 

It is his other talent that has opened doors for him. 

Musician Just Bheki, real name Bheki Shabalala (29), recently signed to Skhanda World. He remembers a time when he was young in Kwa-Mashu, in Kwazulu-Natal, where his grandmother exposed him to the love of music. She loved singing and when they didn't have electricity, she would make them sit down and sing. 

But it was only when he moved to Johannesburg to stay with his mom and aunt in Soweto that he decided to make the arts his chosen career.  His mother was not fussy about him being interested in being in the entertainment industry, as a teacher she just wanted her son to finish school and live his life afterward, he says. 

Just Bheki says he's always been a creative person, he just didn't have the right platform. While figuring out ways to get into the industry after finishing his matric, he got his first job as a waiter.

“In 2011 I worked as a waiter just to make ends meet while coming up with a plan to break through the industry. While working there I felt like I didn't belong there and had a creative calling so I quit to embark on my first love of dancing, entertaining, and performing.”

He then joined his first dance crew which was called “Eminents” before they ventured to music and the name then changed to “Eminent Fam”. The dance crew did very well and went on to win a few dance competitions.

“We did well as Eminents. Soon after that, I joined the award-winning Supreme dance crew in 2014 and that's where everything started for me. Through dance, I could almost see my dream becoming a reality. I met Gigi Lamayne and danced for her during her come up days,” he says.

Just Bheki loved dancing so much that he didn't even know he could be a talented songwriter and singer. That is until one day he went to a friend’s studio and they played around with some sounds.

“I went to the studio every day, making close to six songs a day. During my studio visits, I fell in love with the process of making music and how I felt after recording so I decided to give music a try. I then reformed the group Eminents which is now formally known as Eminent Fam to start on this musical journey together. They were the best people to start this new journey with because we started together in the industry,” he says.

In 2015 they made a song called “Retweet” and had their first professional video. The following year the group had an amazing opportunity to record with the prominent rapper L-Tido on the hit song called “MOTO”. As Eminent, they also worked on the song Koze Kube Nini by Gigi Lamayne, a song about GBV and that is when he separated from the group and started his solo career.

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“I am thankful for the song that I did with Zakwe and Duncan because it blew up and it is the reason why Skhanda World called and offered me a contract. This happened last year, and already they treat me like one of them and it is a privilege to work with KO, it means you have free industry advice at your disposal.”

His debut single as a solo artist was Bamele and he's also released the music video of his second single called Mzala, inspired by Teargas’s Mhlobo Wam.

“The song is to pay homage to the people who did it before us and paved the way for us to believe that it is possible. But also, there are lots of people out there who are friends with people who can sleep with their partners. And so far people can relate because they have somehow experienced betrayal from their close friends,” he says.

When he is not working on his album, he co-writes hit songs with other artists. Just Bheki has co-written Shasha’s verse on the song Phakade Lam. He says that process was beautiful, and being raised by women, he feels like he does understand them.

“It was great to get an opportunity to work with Shasha, she is an amazing artist. I wish to work more with her on her upcoming project. I love the way she writes because it compliments my writing.”

He says he will release his body of work in due time, for now, he going with the flow and enjoying every moment of living his dream.

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