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There are people who go against the grain and express their creativity authentically. They are the fearless ones, the influencers, the ones who don't believe in sameness. These are young people who, against all odds, create something they believe in.

These are the 8 young up-and-coming creatives on our radar for 2017.

Maya Wegerif, widely known as Sho Madjozi is a rapper, writer, and designer, who has recently been featured on Okmalumkoolkat's "Ngiya Shisa Bhe" and on "Probleme" by DJ Maphorisa.

Tell us about the evolution from being a poet to a rapper

There was no real transition. I’m a writer. So I write poems, raps, scripts, stories, everything! The only difference is that I started recording my raps, professionally, and not just on instagram, haha. And apparently people are really into it.

What inspired the name Sho Madjozi?

I grew up in a village where the only person that my cousins saw that looked like me was Vivian Majozi on Generations. So they started calling me Majozi.

Why is it important to you to express and show off your culture in the way you dress and in your raps? 

If I’m not expressing my culture, whose culture am I expressing? I think the real question is, why are we not all doing that? Who are we trying to be the whole time? And why? Maybe I’m too rural, but I get so bored at most of the events I get invited to in town, and everyone else looks hella bored too! But you know if they played Mbaqanga or Gqom or Xitsonga music, we’d all be having a good time. So why do we deprive ourselves of that? I’m tired of suppressing the fact that most of the time all I wanna hear is Xitsonga music and all I wanna do is dance Xibelani.

Espacio Dios is an 18-year-old musician originally from Mafikeng released his debut EP, "Backseat Galaxy," in June of last year.

You refer to yourself as "Son of Uri", please share the significance of the name?

If you don't mind, I'd like to give you a little history lesson. The Son Of Uri (or as he was known, 'Bezalel') is the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. Bezalel was chosen by God who filled him with "the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs."

The Son of Uri is actually the title of my debut Album. The project is mainly about me using my artistic gifts to inspire and cure the ones who aspire to take in the artistic wisdom, understanding and knowledge I have given myself. It's a pure album. It's an artistic album. It's a craftsman's album. It's that album that will save that one kid that doesn't see the art & beauty in his/her existence. It's that album that will make you see the art & beauty in love and failed relationships. It's a real experience I tell you.

Where would you like to take your music career?

In this day & age, you see a lot of artists getting caught up in the money, and forget why they actually started. It no longer becomes about the music, and that's a place I know I'll never end up. For me, it's all about the music. Music is my passion, music is my life. And I have faith that my music and everything surrounding it, will take me to great heights.

What's the best thing about being young in South Africa today?

The best part about being young in South Africa today is the opportunities that I have. 40 or so odd years ago, a African boy who like me has a passion for music would have never ever been given the chance. His talents would have been over looked, and the chances of him ever pursuing a career in music were probably one in a million. Why? It's pretty obvious. Being born in the post Apartheid generation, the "Born Free Generation" I've been graced with opportunities that my African brothers & sisters living in the apartheid era could have only dreamt about. That's the best part.

Langa Mavuso is a soul/jazz musician who released his debut EP "Liminal Sketches" last year.

What do you enjoy most, the process of creating music or performing live? And why?

Performance has to be the place that I'm most happiest. I think there's no greater gift in music than sharing in the experience of your music with people who've been absent from your process of creation and conception. The stage is a scared platform where you can transform the music or simply inform the message. It can be a place where you allow yourself to become a vessel of the message and feeling that people are relating to. It is also a great space to draw in new audiences simply through good engagement and well presented performance. The creative process can sometimes be hard and lonely because it forces one to relive some moments and sometimes it pushes you to imagine things completely new to you.

Who are some of your earliest music influences?

Growing up both my parents were choral singers and my weekends consisted of me sitting at the corner in a big hall in Orlando, listening to a group of adults perfect melodies and steps. Furthermore we had music playing all the time at home. Singers like Ringo, Caphius Semenya, Luther Vandross, Stimela and Whitney Houston were constantly in the background of my life. I was even in a little music group in primary school and we were inspired by the Coca Cola pop stars of the time. We used to practice every first break and we'd perform in class or sometimes at the tuck shop during second breaks. A lot 90's RnB and Millennial pop was my early influence.

What are your thoughts on the SA music scene?

I think the music scene is growing in South Africa and even the consumer has a broad taste in music now. I think we have some really great musicians known and unknown, the folks who need catching up are the record labels and promoters. There is a hunger for new complex sounds and beautiful presentations of it. There are amazing artists in this country whose sounds haven't been tapped into enough yet, people like Nonku Phiri, Samthing Soweto, Zoë Modiga, Bokani Dyer, Manthe Ribane and many others, who just haven't been given enough platforms to showcase their full potential. I think music in this country is in a beautiful place of growth and expansion. It may take a while for it to simmer to top (highly commercial spaces) but I do think that there is a space for many more at the top and I believe "the cream always rises to the top"

Just watch this space.

Neo Serati Mofammere is a progressive menswear designer who recently showcased his A/W 2017 collection for his label Nao Serati at SAMW.

Do your designs reflect your personality? And if so, how?

A part of my personality, I always say in my head I'm the Nao Serati guy but in reality I have much less places to go then this guy. The designs do come from me so there must be a part of me that's involved.

What is the best thing about being a menswear designer in Africa?

The menswear industry is small and overlooked so it's always enjoyable to produce without the pressure that woman's wear has. The current generation of menswear designers are always pushing and bringing up the level, it's fun to be challenged.

Can you share with us the process of your designs from developing the ideas to the moment they are on the runway?

The idea first comes from an experience and I'll normally create a playlist to keep that mood going in my head.

Then I sketch and curate those sketches for days until I'm satisfied with a final 20 or so. Then we fabric source, make patterns and cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Thabang “Bangy” Rabothata is the founder of DEAD. a lifestyle brand established in 2015.

How did your street wear brand come about and how has the journey been so far?

I'm not too sure that I can call DEAD. a street wear brand because our main focus is clothes however, it's not what we solely about. It has much more to offer so I'd rather refer to it as a lifestyle brand. About two years ago, I used to design clothes for myself because I didn't like what our local stores had to offer. One day, I was approached by a guy, Thatiso Dube, asking me to start a brand under him. He asked what name would I want it to be, at that point in my Life I felt like I was dead emotionally till I start living the Life that I want to live, to me, Life starts when you start living your dreams. A year later (2015), DEAD. was born. It's been challenging however, you just have to be in a position to fail and be able to put the pieces back together again and try again.

If you could describe DEAD. in one sentence, how would you describe it?

Already in 2050.

You've recently launched DEAD. radio and DEAD. water, please tell us more about that?

DEAD. being a lifestyle brand, it offers a couple of other things. Like DEAD. Radio, as you mentioned, this is about about inspiring kids and it's a platform that upcoming artists or influencers can use to extend their reach so more people will know what they're all about. It's all about us creating our own industry instead of hoping and praying that the big companies see us, especially when they have no interest in us. When it comes to the water, it was just an idea really which I really liked and ended up going towards it and turning it into a reality. I want to be surrounded by everything me so this was just the beginning. I'd like to think DEAD. is me hence "BANGYISDEAD".

Una Rams, whose real name is Unarine Rambani, is a rapper and producer originally from Limpopo.

How did your journey in music begin? Can you share the story of when you decided to create your first song?

My journey in music began way back when I still believed in Santa Clause and the tooth fairy. I was always fascinated by how music affected people, it always acted as a catalyst for emotional reactions. I became a dancer in the early years of my life, my friends and family seemed to enjoy how I gyrated but to me it was about interpreting the sounds I heard into movement. It then transitioned from mere translation to creation as my brothers and I decided to start a boy band. My brothers could sing and at that point I could barely even hold a note so I decided I would rap instead. I wrote down a couple of lines, recorded those on the beat and that was the beginning of a new phase in my musical journey. I still remember that verse to this day :)

How would you describe your sound?

We are all dynamic beings, we're constantly evolving, we have different sides to us, we want to be acknowledged and we are flawed, yet in those flaws we find our identity. I would say that my sound is human. It is flawed, it has emotion, it is constantly changing and it definitely has different sides to it.

 What to you are some of the most important messages to communicate through your music?

I pretty much try to tell stories through my music, whether I am sharing my own experiences or trying to see life through someone else's eyes. I talk a lot about relationships, love and heartbreak because those subjects are usually ignored in hip hop. For some reason, expressing how you feel or being in touch with your emotions is associated with weakness, whereas it takes a lot of strength and courage to be able to do so. I want everyone to relate to the music I put out and it works out because no matter who you are, you're probably gonna fall in love or get your heart broken.

Lusanda Worsley is the founder of Empire innovations agency.

How did the decision to create your own agency come about?

At the age of 25 I had the idea to start my own agency, but I wanted to create more than that – I wanted to build an EMPIRE. A year into it, what had started off as experiential agency slowly became twisted and we were labeled as a female driven, events and PR agency. I started noticing a trend, that I had been experiencing at every agency and brand that I have worked on, not just from me but from my peers.

Sadly and bluntly put the discrimination and mis-representation of young African creatives .From being a face of something you don’t really believe in, creative ideas are taken advantage of, and not being credited for your own brilliant ideas that keep the company sustained.

I had to reflect on the real reason why I started my agency:

- For EMPIRE to be a platform for young African creatives to shine, grow and innovate their talents

- For African creatives and entrepreneurs to build an EMPIRE of their own.

It was then when I decided o transform EMPIRE from just an experiential agency into an innovations agency.

How do you ensure that you are taken seriously as a female in a male dominated industry?

For me it’s more about confidence and intelligence, these are two most important assets that no one can take away from you.

Siyethemba Duma is the founder of women's wear luxury design brand Matte Nolim.

What is your design philosophy?

Less is more, but still dramatic.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be an emerging designer in South Africa?

I label myself an emerging designer because I've still got lots to do to be "established" and a household name, regardless of how much I've put into presenting the brand. So it's more of me saying I'm not established yet but I'm very much here. And I'm coming for whats mine.

What can people expect from Matte Nolim in future?

I'm here to own an aesthetic ( modern African minimalism ) and a design signature, so expect less of what we've been seeing a lot of in the industry and get ready for ready-to-wear made fun and edgy . And remember the name. Matte Nolim. I've got a solid committed team who only wanna go to the top. And we are going together .


Writing: Phendu Kuta

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