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By unknown | Jan 28, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IN 1989 Thulani Ngcobo heard a song by Ray Phiri that changed his life.

IN 1989 Thulani Ngcobo heard a song by Ray Phiri that changed his life.

The popular classic Tell Me Where Did We Go Wrong inspired the young Thulani to become a musician.

After years of dedicated classical piano training and paying meticulous attention to his hair the star, now known as Pitch Black Afro, exploded on to the South African music scene.

"I loved Ray Phiri. When I heard his song Tell Me Where Did We Go Wrong I told my mother that I want to be a musician. From an early age my mind was set," Pitch recalls.

His mother recognised his talent and sent him to Funda Centre, an arts centre in Diepkloof, Soweto. At 12 he began learning classical music theory.

Soon afterwards he began his practical piano lessons, which helped him deal with a lifelong problem: "I used to stutter quite badly. This kept me from talking to people because most of them did not understand my problem and would just laugh at me.

"When I began playing the piano I finally found a way to express myself. I could release my emotions through music."

In 2000 he made the switch from classical music to hip-hop. Friends had asked him to help compose some material for them. While working with them he discovered he could rap.

"My stuttering stopped when I started rapping. I didn't notice it myself. Friends pointed it out to me."

Inspired by his new love for hip-hop he entered the Rap Activity Jam competition on youth radio station Yfm and easily won the rapper of the week title.

A short while later he returned and became rapper of the month.

"Rapping came easily to me because I had a lot to say, having been quiet for so many years. Hip-hop gave me the confidence I needed to talk to people without fear."

In 2003 hit-maker DJ Cleo worked with Pitch on the soundtrack of the television show Gaz'lam. The following year Pitch released his runaway hit album Styling Gel. The album was more successful than Pitch had expected.

Through it he became the first and only South African rapper to go double platinum.

Pitch was nonplussed by the experience of becoming a household name.

"It was hard to go from the streets to the mansions. There is no guidance from an organisation for artists. You yourself have to figure out how to adjust. It felt like I was being hit by a tidal wave."

He quickly found his feet and released two more albums, Split Ends and Bigger Blacker Better.

This year sees the release of his fourth album Zonke Bonke.

"I have grown with each album I have done. I always try to merge my taste with the styles of music that are popular at the moment."

Fans will be glad to know that he has not let go of his gigantic Afro and eccentric style.

"Fans started this Afro style. I used to wear caps but people knew I had big hair. In one of my first performances I got on stage wearing a cap and the audience shouted that they wanted to see my Afro."

Those with Afros know that they can be quite hard to manage. Pitch puts some combs from the Clicks Hair Essentials range to the test to see which is best.

First he tries the Lift and Tease Comb. "Steel teeth are best for an Afro because they won't catch on the hair and break it."

He tries the Mega Comb. "The bristles are too big for an Afro, they'll break the hair. The plastic bristles will also mess up your 'fro."

Next he tries the Afro Comb. "I used to use this. People think it's the best comb for Afros but it actually hurts the hair."

The last is the Detangle Comb. "This one is good to use when you're plaiting hair or undoing knots. The best is the Lift and Tease Comb." - Keitumetse Segoai


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