INTERVIEW:Kwaito's new hitmaker talks to us about his new album Phunyuka Bamphethe (that's English for "Untouchable"), cooling off on the party life, and being a big star.Jean Barker for MWEB: "Phunyuka Bamphethe" - great album title. It means something like "The one who is in jail escapes again" or something. Mandoza: Yes, but not just from jail. In lots of situations
MWEB: Your old image was kind of sweaty and rougher. Now you have a wife, kids, and your own designer clothing range...Mandoza: I'm launching the clothing range next month. Yup, and it's gonna be great. And then the movie's coming out in November. Number 10.
MWEB: So what happened with the change of lifestyle?Mandoza: I am no miracle. But I saw that something has to change, you know?
MWEB: You get played in rock dance clubs by people like Barney Simon, as well as in Yeoville, in the townships, in taxis, in my living room. So you're really big. You must get accosted by fans pretty often. How do you handle that?Mandoza: It happens all the time. You know what I'm saying? But with some of the questions, I draw lines. I don't just answer all the questions. But at the end of the day I understand they're my friends. They want to know something deeper. But what I'm doing is not all about exposing my privacy.
MWEB: And about Arthur's new track - "Sika Lekhekhe". Do you think the SABC should have banned Sika Lekhekhe and it's video? Mandoza: You know, think of it: why do you have to ban the South African tracks? When there are butt naked American videos on TV? I don't understand that. It discriminates. I don't know. But if they can stop the tracks that they're playing from overseas - then we would understand. Not that I'm saying I'm going to follow his attitude. I'm doing my own thing - you know what I'm saying? But we must have the same freedom.
MWEB: Arthur produced "Nogonondo" and "Nogonondo II" on the album. Firstly, what does "Nogonondo" mean? Nobody at the office could tell me.Mandoza: Nogonondo... it's a like... ancestor. Everyone's ancestor.
MWEB: You were shooting a new video last week. Was it for Phunyuka Bamphethe? Who is the director / producer? And what's going to be happening in the video?Mandoza: It's kind of funky, you know? A lot of energy, a lot of - what do you call this movement? [He crosses his arms curved in front of his body in typical Kwaito video dance style].
MWEB: And what kind of images are in it? Similar to Indoda, with your face superimposed on Lion match boxes and so on?Mandoza: Gangster image. No, something different.
MWEB: Sticking with movies: You're in Number 10, the upcoming Rugby movie. What role do you play? Tell us what it was like being on set there.Mandoza: I'm a scrum rugby player. I play second role. Colin Moss is the leading actor. He's a very nice guy.
MWEB: Tell us about a typical day. Mandoza: I wake up in the morning I go to gym. I eat. I watch movies or TV if I'm not doing anything. And I sleep. Wake up. Eat. Watch TV. Sleep. Wake up. Eat. [Laughs]. I like it.
MWEB: And the music part of it?Mandoza: The music part of it? I listen to my music in my car.
MWEB: And the playing and the writing?Mandoza: Oh. I don't actually write. I keep ideas. Images of ideas.
MWEB: And after a gig, what do you do? Where do you hang out. Who with. And when you get home and to bed?Mandoza: I hang out in the ghetto, where I grew up. And it's a lot of fun, because it takes me back where I'm coming from.
MWEB: What charity would you be most likely to support? Tell us about what they do?Mandoza: Mandela's children's fund.
MWEB: Suppose this charity asked you to do a song for them, and they wanted it to be a duet with a female star, and they reckon you have to choose between Simphiwe Dana, Patricia Lewis, Busi Mhlongo, Unathi - which would you pick to work with? Mandoza: Unathi. She's deep, in a way.
- Jean Barker
He's risen from the ghetto to the top of the Kwaito "Superstar" pile. He rubs shoulders with Zola and Arthur. He's crossed the colour line with hits like "Indoda", and the dance floor hit "Nkalakatha". All his albums go gold. His collaboration with Danny K was last year's summer hit. He owns his own clothing label. And his latest release, Phunyuka Bamphethe shipped 25 000 the day it was released. He's a big shot.
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