The year of superstar Focalistic

Muso ruled the streets from Pretoria to Lagos and London

Focalistic has always aimed for the stars in his musical journey.
Focalistic has always aimed for the stars in his musical journey.
Image: Supplied.

Self-proclaimed “President ya straata”, Focalistic, has not only ruled the streets of Mzansi this year, but across borders and cultures.

He has done it using amapiano and his sonic catch-phrase, “Ase trap tse ke pina tsa ko kasi”, loosely translating to this is not trap music, it’s songs we listen to in the township.

By taking the yanos to the world, the superstar from Garankuwa, northern Pretoria, earns the top honour of Sowetan’s Entertainer of the Year.

When the first TimeOut of the year launched back in January, with Focalistic was on the cover and billed as “Kasi excellence”, we somewhat predicted his winning year.

“Performing in front of 40,000 people in August at Yam Carnival in London was a highlight,” Focalistic reflects on his year with a hoarseness in his voice. Perhaps it has everything to do with his latest song 16 Days No Sleep.

“Hopping on stage and hearing them scream 'ase trap tse ke pina tsa ko kasi' blew my mind away,” he pauses before coughing.

“That was my first time in London; to realise that my song is known that far and by so many people at the same time singing ‘tsikitsiki yho, tsikitsiki yho, tsikitsiki yho’ [the lyrics from Ke Star] that is something I will forever be grateful for.”

With his smash hit Ke Star – I am the star – many will not be blamed for theorising that Focalistic prophesied his trajectory to super-stardom. Even Nigerian megastar Davido couldn’t resist an opportunity to jump onto the remix.


Perfect Christmas Menu

Mogodu (tripe)

Pap

Chakalaka

Wors

Creamed spinach 

Focalistic met Davido during a club appearance in Pretoria two years ago. Focalistic was relatively unknown, bubbling under and promoting his EP, Ase Trap Tse ke Pina Tsa Ko Kasi. The DJ on the decks that night was Focalistic’s good friend DBN Gogo. She was playing music for that offering.

Davido had asked to meet the artists as Focalistic walked into the club. They met and exchanged numbers. They never texted one another. But fast-forward to earlier this year, Ke Star, had achieved the almost impossible task of an SA artist topping Nigeria’s Apple Music chart without featuring an artist from there. 

Davido then sent Focalistic a text in his DMs (direct messages) and congratulated him on the progress he had made since their last encounter. Focalistic later travelled to Nigeria and opened for Davido at his show.


The original version of Ke Star stole the show and they plotted a remix. The remix has since topped the same music chart. The duo has just dropped another song together Champion Sound. It has also topped that chart giving Focalistic three number one hits in Nigeria this year.


“We are reaching the dream, which is to be world recognised,” Focalistic muses.

Focalistic was also nominated for Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Award (EMA), losing out to Wizkid last month. 

“What these nominations do is to show you how close to the dream you are and you need to work harder. For me is not about the awards, but the recognition that comes with it. Afrobeat started like this, we are also pushing amapiano,” Focalistic opines.

On Sunday, he scooped two wins (best male and corroboration) at the African Muzik Magazine Awards (Afrimma).

“It means I need to work harder next year. Instead of  two, I want eight,” Focalistic laughs.

For the 25-year-old, born Lethabo Sebetso, he will remember 2021 as the year that he created the best music of his life and immortalised his experiences through the music.

Image: Supplied.

The original version of Ke Star stole the show and they plotted a remix. The remix has since topped the same music chart. The duo has just dropped another song together Champion Sound. It has also topped that chart giving Focalistic three number one hits in Nigeria this year.

“We are reaching the dream, which is to be world recognised,” Focalistic muses.

Focalistic was also nominated for Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Award (EMA), losing out to Wizkid last month. 

“What these nominations do is to show you how close to the dream you are and you need to work harder. For me is not about the awards, but the recognition that comes with it. Afrobeat started like this, we are also pushing amapiano,” Focalistic opines.

On Sunday, he scooped two wins (best male and corroboration) at the African Muzik Magazine Awards (Afrimma).

“It means I need to work harder next year. Instead of  two, I want eight,” Focalistic laughs.

For the 25-year-old, born Lethabo Sebetso, he will remember 2021 as the year that he created the best music of his life and immortalised his experiences through the music.

My top five festive tunes

16 Days No Sleep by Focalistic featuring DJ Maphorisa, Mellow and Sleazy

Paranoia by Focalistic featuring DJ Maphorisa and Busta 929

Bakwa Lah by Major League DJz featuring C4 DJs, Nvcho and Mathandos

Champion Sound by Davido and Focalistic

Bacardi Ke Religion by Focalistic featuring Mellow and Sleazy

His latest EP, President Ya Straata, that showcases a more mature and introspective sound is a prime example.

“Music to me is like a diary. The EP is the hustle’s bible. When I recorded it I was travelling a lot and sometimes you are not sleeping.

“Those are the things that people don’t get to hear about. There is a song like Paranoia, which explains how I’m living right now. When something is going right, you always wonder what could go wrong.”

The middle child of three children, Focalistic holds his resilience, family and God as his winning recipe.

“Everything I do has been led by the spirits. My family has kept me motivated. As a child from a black family, you always want to elevate the family name.

“My late father [political journalist Kgomotso Sebetso] would be proud and I can feel it in the energy. 

“When I hear stories about him – this year I got to know more about him – and people have been telling me that he always wanted to make music. He had a talent for poetry.”

Unfortunately, Focalistic will not spent Christmas Day with his family as he will be travelling back from a gig in Nigeria. But he plans to have a thanksgiving dinner the next day.

Top of the list on his future plans is to fill up The O2 Arena in London and he has a two-year plan on how he’s going to do it.

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