More than a decade has passed since he released Lento, and people still ask, “Ngubani Osnika Lento”? his hit, Jezebel is still considered a masterpiece, and Imoto’s song about Entshontsh’Imali is still relevant today.
Never mind that after dropping hit after hit, he took a break from making his own full-length albums and concentrated on collaborations with different artists as a way to challenge his creativity.
Kwaito musician Professor still needs no introduction. He’s back and he insists on keeping the Kwaito genre alive, he tells Drum.
The break hasn’t changed his mind about that. A few years ago, he released Brand New, and then he went back to the drawing board.
Professor, real name Mkhonzeni Langa, tells us about his creative process, the importance of taking a break to give people time to fully digest his music, and how he survived the pandemic and performed post-lockdown for a crowd that is into Amapiano.
After a quiet spell, Professor makes his comeback with a new love song featuring Shwi and Sun-El Musician titled ‘Ezangakini’. It’s a classic story of love and how one man forsakes all else for his true love. Shwi’s vocals on the chorus bring in a sense of nostalgia. Professor speaks prophecies over the love of his love and Sun-El finishes it off with immaculate production.
He says he believes the country needs to hear more songs about love because people have endured a lot of pain with the pandemic and lost close family and friends while trying to survive.
The Imoto hitmaker says this song caught him off guard in how it came together. He was listening to the beat in the studio with Pex Africah, and when he heard the melodies, he knew that he wanted Shwi’s vocals.
“When you make music, something comes to you and you know exactly who will be good on the song. I was fortunate that Shwi liked it because it was different and I wanted his guitar cord and everything blended so beautifully. And I have also wanted to work with Sun-El, and this was a perfect moment to approach him because I knew he would understand what is needed from him. After all, he worked on Simmy’s album. The sound of this single is similar to that of Simmy,” he says.
He says he needed a break from making a full body of work because sometimes artists can get lost in the need to create the next hit song, and that takes away from one’s creativity.
“I always made Kwaito but I also sang in my albums. There are songs that I have sung on but because the hit singles are always the ones that I am rapping on, the other beautiful songs people do not get to hear. That is why I did features, to give myself time to come up with a new way of making a song and even explore different sounds.”
That is how his 2020 single titled Ndicendeni featuring old-school bubblegum group Dalom Kids came about. The aim was to remake South African bubblegum hits that he enjoyed growing up. The success of the Ezangakini will determine the direction he will take on this album, he says.
Being an artist hasn’t been easy in the midst of a pandemic. The year 2020 opened his eyes, he says, and he realized that he needed to look at venturing into other businesses.
“I gave my all to music, and I do not have something on the side in case music doesn’t go well. 2020 open my eyes because it was bad, I was lucky I got to perform in other countries around the continent so I manage to live but it was hard to be an artist who solely depends on the music. I am glad I have passed that and music made that year bearable because I focused and prayed for better days,” he says.
Professor says as a Kwaito artist, it’s strange getting back to live performance, it’s a scary experience. He once performed in Botswana in a crowd that loves Amapiano when Kabza Da Small was doing a one-man show.
“It was my first time performing after lockdown and when Kabza told me that I am on next, I was scared because I was performing after the guys who are currently hot – music-wise. I am a shy guy but prayer gets me through my fears and when I performed the first song, I eased up. It felt so great to perform in front of a live audience, everything suddenly makes sense and you get reminded why you love music, to begin with. I am happy to get to perform again. And the crowd appreciated my performance, we ended up laughing about my fears later on,” he says.
He is currently in the studio working on his full-length album that he plans to release this year. People like Oskido and Black Coffee, who have given their all to music and are reaping the rewards, keep him going.