Bongo Beats marches to beat of his own drum
Bongo Beats has spent a lot of time building the careers of other musicians with firecracker hits, but now it's his turn.
As an underground producer, Bongo has made hits for dance stars such as Niniola from Nigeria and locals Dr Malinga, Busiswa, Mpume and Uhuru.
He also collaborated with Zanda Zakuza and Nomcebo.
The producer has a hot single climbing the charts, titled Don't Break My Heart, featuring Liza Miro on vocals.
He might be on to something here following a winning formula that earned Durban's Holly Rey the prestigious Record of the Year gong at Sama25 in June.
Bongo has teamed up with a soulful white woman who caresses and glides with the club banger. "Liza is a cool person. It was a great experience working with her," he says.
"I've worked with others but there was something different about her. I could learn a lot from her.
"A lot of people get surprised that I worked with a white woman and how great the song sounds. She gave it something special with her vocal abilities that I couldn't find anywhere else."
He makes it clear that it's business as usual for him because he wants to be a trailblazer. "My music is something different and unique; you can't put it in a genre. This is just what the industry needs. The music doesn't compete with anything out there right now. It's a different style."
Not one to follow trends, Bongo maintains a unique signature that will earn a musician street cred. "I want to have my own signature and sound so that fans can know the real me and my craft. I want to be remembered as that artist who was different and had his own sound, that's my legacy."
On his upcoming album he has worked with international acts like Pat Milisa from Nigeria, Khoisan Maxy from Botswana and Miss P from Lesotho. But he says he didn't set out to work with international stars, it came naturally.
Born Bongani Shabangu in Nelspruit, he grew up in Soshanguve, where he is based. He has been at it since 15 years old with the help of an older friend in IT who supplied computer software to create beats.
His family wasn't supportive until they saw him on TV and realised that his passion was paying off. Today, they are his biggest fans.
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