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Ike Tladi is charisma and chutzpah - take it from me

By unknown | Dec 10, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

They don't make the likes of Ike Tladi anymore.

As the saying goes, the Creator destroyed the mould once he was satisfied with His handy work.

It's not that this music man supreme is special in any particular way. The thing is he has charisma and chutzpah.

My first attempt at this interview ended up in utter failure. We were ensconced in his townhouse south of Joburg. Everything seemed perfect.

There was music, compact discs everywhere. And then there was music, long-player records everywhere. And then some more music, DVDs everywhere.

He would later tell me that when he reached somewhere between five thousand and ten thousand, he stopped counting.

"Who cares? Music is music and I'm the music."

We had hardly been in his smart-chick home when it started raining girls, beautiful young things.

Ike, ever the entertainer, whipped up a quick dinner and hauled out a bottle of good cognac from someplace and we got into the swing of things. Hip cat that he is, he became the centre of everything.

If good company, beautiful gals and seductive music in a grand joint is not an idea of heaven, then I have no clue what heaven should be like.

When I eventually wandered out into the cool breeze in the early hours, I felt good about myself. I whistled Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.

Problem was, I had completely forgotten about the interview.

I called him the next day and told him that the interview would have to be conducted at a neutral place or there was no deal.

Two weeks later, over a drink at Newscafe at Campus Square, Auckland Park, I put it to him that his reputation as a "ladies man" precedes him.

With a throaty laugh, he tried to explain himself as misunderstood: "If I lived up to half the reputation I have attracted, I wouldn't be alive today.

"I would have died of something like Aids a long time ago."

A good cook who would never leave his house without preparing a sumptuous meal, Ike said women - and men - were naturally attracted to his company simply because he's a born entertainer.

"People always see me in the company of beautiful girls because I make them happen. I make them feel good about themselves," he said, adding that he's a one-woman man.

As if he wanted me to believe him, he whipped out his cell and out flashed the face of a beautiful girl in my face.

"She's considerate. She's kind and I want her to be part of my life forever," said the 53-year-old man considered by many to be a heart-breaker.

The Newscafe rendezvous was almost equally a lousy idea as was his pad. No peace.

Sowetan offices were not conducive to a good chat. An end-of-year party was in full swing when we relocated there. But we managed to find a little corner at the back of the building to continue the conversation.

Ike was born in Soweto, and just before June 16 1976 exploded, his family relocated to Botswana where he completed his matric in Lobatse.

The family returned to Soweto and landed right in the eye of the storm. June 16 was happening.

I was to meet him, casually later in life. He, together with Tim Modise, Stan Bodibe, Tebogo Matime and Ray Phiri were hanging out at Lawrence Dube's apartment.

As we knocked back a few bottles of whisky, Ike was sweating it out at Dube's kitchen, cooking up a storm.

Years later, Ike would let me in on a secret. "Lawrence and Tim used to visit me not particularly because I'm a nice guy. They came for my food, the bastards.

"I'm exceptionally good in the kitchen."

If Dube can sing for his supper, then he can win an Idols competition any day. Many years later, the years of Radio Bop and Metro behind him, he gave his long-time friend a call - out of the blue.

Dube was a part of a consortium that launched Kaya FM about a decade ago.

"Lawry called me and told me to drag my arse to some place. He told me to bring my CV."

Needless to say, Ike was met by the management of the station and was offered a job on the spot. No interview and questions asked. Dube, who at that stage was already a radio icon, had spoken and his word carried its weight in gold.

Period. Even though Ike acrimoniously left Kaya FM nine years later, he still reveres Dube as one of the best radio jocks in the country.

"Look at it this way," he justified his point. "People who started with Lawrence in radio have long passed their sell-by-date. Lawrence is still as fresh, if not more experienced than when he started in radio in Bophuthatswana."

According to Ike, people like Dube are one of the few who make radio worth listening to these days.

"Technology is beginning to make live radio obsolete. In Kaya, for instance, many listeners switch off after Lawrence's show."

He remembers his time at Kaya with a mixture of fondness, regret and sadness.

Just more than a year ago, Ike, who was music compiler, started making headlines after accusing the station of being hijacked by white interests.

"When I went to Kaya, there was no music. Six months before jocks were employed and the station went on air.. I was there, building a music library.

"Then, when we became a huge success, the station changed the formula. We became another pseudo rock-rap station. I was pissed off and I spoke my mind."

For being pissed off, he was fired in return.

Here I do not think Ike's assertions are the rantings of a bitter, ageing man.

Prior to his flirtation with radio, he worked for a decade at Kohinoor, the only record store in the southern hemisphere with its own catalogue.

He helped shape the sound of hip stations as diverse as Bop, SR, Capital and Thohoyandou.

"I sampled all those guys."

Today Ike is a producer, compiler and presenter of his own show, Medumo, an hour-long programme on SABC's Channel Africa with about 10million listeners.

"The show is happening," Ike said.


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