Mention his name and fans will wax lyrical about hits like Raga Raga, Bang Bang, One Night Stand and the work he's produced over the years.
When they think of him, they immediately associate his name with hip-hop.
But Gemini Major is going through a transition. With his new EP Island Water now out, he's looking to distance himself from hip-hop as an artist and focus more on afro-fusion.
We caught up with Gemini and he shares some of the things he's learnt about himself while making this EP.
“This is my first presentation on this new journey I’ve taken as an African artist. For a long time, I’ve been making music that was expected of me, and I guess that’s because I got lost in the sauce a little bit. But while making this new EP, I’ve really connected to myself and I’m finally making the music I‘ve been longing to make. I want to take this afro-fusion sound really far, artists like Wizkid really inspire me. I look up to them because of how what they’ve been able to achieve internationally with a sound that is authentic to them.”
Music is what gives Gemini a sense of belonging, and always has since childhood.
“It’s funny because even when I have no intention of being in the studio on a certain day, I always find myself there. I definitely can’t live without music. There was a point where it felt like a job and not something that I looked forward to, and that’s when I was doing a lot of collaborations. Once again it was that pressure to stay in hip hop when I knew I wanted something else. But when it comes to family and friends, the relationships I’ve built because of music have really helped me get to the place I am now.’
Even though music was the only path that he wanted to take, it gave him a lot of anxiety.
“It was actually the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, deciding that music was the only thing I wanted to do and then sticking to that. But you know people also thought I was crazy when I decided to move from Malawi to South Africa to pursue music and that didn’t help my anxiety, but I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else with my life, I still don’t.”
As passionate and excited as he is about this new journey, he says it’s taken time for his fanbase to warm to his new sound, which he expected.
“I also work as a producer, so I know what good quality work looks and sounds like, but the one thing you can’t guarantee, or control is the reception of your work, no matter how good it is. Knowing it’s going to be a long journey, I’ve given myself time because in South Africa, for example, afro-fusion just doesn’t get streamed as much as hip hop. That coupled with the fact that my fanbase mostly connecting me and my sound to hip hop, it’s definitely been slow when it comes to the streaming numbers, but I know we’ll eventually get there. But I won’t give up easily because right now I’m making music that carries me emotionally and spiritually.”
Gemini started a new record label not too long ago called Rudebouy Records, but he has no intention of being an independent artist forever.
“I’ve been speaking to a few record labels who are looking to sign me, but the conditions have to be right, I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I have issues with management over where I want to take my sound. Everything has been very different and so difficult as an independent artist, except the music - which has given me a sense of peace. The most important thing to me is finding a team that aligns with who I am and where I see myself going.”
Island Waters prompted him to take a break from hip hop, to focus on crafting his new sound.
“The majority of my collaborations are hip hop, and that’s always been hard because I feel like I’m just giving so much of myself to people without focusing on what I want. And that’s what my fanbase wants to hear hence they always do so well. But I just had to take some time away.”