M’du or die

After his obituary was written prematurely earlier this year, kwaito kingpin M’du Masilela has decided to end 2010 on a high note.

Tomorrow he releases Best of da Best, a collection of hits that he recorded from the early 90s up to the mid- 2000s.

In March rumours circulated on social media networks that Masilela (39) had died in an accident.

The fact that no radio station managed to interview him to deny the rumour sparked even a greater panic that he had indeed perished.

When I finally met Masilela recently, to talk about releasing this long overdue Best of da Best album, I checked for his pulse to make sure he was indeed healthy.

He looks fit if not fat, and chatty as ever – just to dispel doubts about the state of his welfare.

“When the rumours started I thought it was a joke.

I received calls from midnight and they kept coming for almost a month. The whole thing shook me later, when I wondered how people can declare one dead.

“I guess you can’t point fingers. If someone played a game it wasn’t cool at all.

The comfort I got from the elders was that I will live long and should not stress about it.”

Masilela talks about how his family was shocked and his older children Andile and Dineo and everyone close to him received calls of condolences.

“My home phone and our cellphones became like a call centre.

The silver lining in all of this was that I realised that there were people I’d never met and who loved me, I think it was God’s way of showing me how much people appreciated my art and my humility.”

And it’s this appreciation from his fans that has informed the tracklisting on Best of da Best. Masilela says the songs were selected from requests he received from music lovers who last had the songs on cassettes.

“This is a response to public demand, but you must also remember that these songs were taken from my platinum (more than 50?000 copies) selling releases.

From the now iconic Mazola with its signature siren to his breakout songs Tsiki Tsiki Yo and YU4ME, Masilela has an impressive catalogue that kept him at the top of the kwaito food chain.

His signature tswere-tswere sound and gravel voice rang at taverns, stokvels, clubs and street bashes nation-wide and neighbouring countries.

Songs like Chomi Ya Bana, O Suna Mang (Ke Le Teng), Masututsa and Mabankbook remain the essential soundtracks of the 1990s and the new millennium.

Masilela is pushing the Home Sweet Home single as his hit song for the festive period.

“This is the perfect song to accompany anyone heading back home for the December break.

I find the lyrics relevant and appropriate for this time of the year,” he says.

The double CD has 28 quintessential tracks that Masilela says represent his life story.

“They are part of my journey from then up until now. Personally I have achieved what I set out to achieve – writing simple songs that will last forever and become part of history.

I am glad to be a part of the musical history.

“I have always been guided by songs like Shosholoza, Nkosi Sikelela and Mbube, simple songs that lasted forever and became part of our history.

“My songs are still happening today and I am grateful to everybody who has been supportive.”

At the height of their careers, M’du and Arthur Mafokate were like two Soweto bulls in the kwaito kraal and the debate about who exactly was the king could easily end up in a pub brawl.

Now life has slowed down somewhat for the two performers, both concentrating on running their music labels, Wolla Music and 999Music respectively.

“Music is not something you outgrow. I have realised you can’t run away from it, it’s within me. I feel more comfortable doing it.”

Now he is mulling over the idea of releasing a collaborative album with the new generation of artists in June next year.

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