With a firm belief that some of the greatest music talent in our country lies within the townships, Rabs Vhafuwi has made it his mission to tap into that market. Seemingly, whatever he touches turns to gold. GroundUp interviewed the producer on his inspirations, how he got into music and how he is changing the game.
With only two years of experience in music production, Rabelani Madula aka Rabs Vhafuwi is already one of the hottest producers on the scene. After the success of DJ Mizz’s Count Your Blessings, and most recently Siphe Tebeka’s Music Mystery, both produced by Rabs, there’s no going back on his decision to pursue music as a full time career.
One of his key selling points is working with unknown artists and harnessing talent that is often overlooked.
“I have always loved music, jazz to be specific. As a DJ, I always struggled to get music that I liked for my sets, so I knew right then that I needed to create my own,” says Rabs.
After doing business studies, majoring in production management and operations finance, Rabs felt equipped to turn his love for music into a profitable business.
The 31-year-old producer runs his own label, Freeze The Moment Productions, in Johannesburg.
“Originally, I’m from a small village called Dzimauli Mukondeni in Venda,” he says. This is where he spent most of his life until moving to Cape Town in 2011. “I made the bold decision to move to Jo’burg because it’s the center of everything, and it’s even easier to now visit my family in Venda. Plus, the access to TV and radio for PR is a lot easier,” he says.
“In Cape Town I didn’t have a studio to work in, and building one or renting a studio required money I didn’t have. It was harder to send my music to radio stations and I couldn’t make the kind of music videos that I wanted,” he says.
The accessibility and greater affordability of these resources in Jo’burg helped him take his career a step further, hence the new album he has now managed to produce and recently release.
In 2014, one of the tracks he produced in collaboration with Metro FM Music Award nominee DJ Mizz made its way onto every major radio station and became a hit on Yfm. With nearly 200,000 YouTube views Count Your Blessings is one of his most successful works. The track also features Peter Ndlala on sax and trumpets and David Mayekane on guitar.
Rabs is big on collaborating with other artists. They don’t necessarily have to be with the most well-known artists, but with those whose strengths, weaknesses and skills complement each other. Many of these artists can be found in the townships.
“It’s important to collaborate and work with township guys in many ways it helps distract them from the harsh realities of day-to-day life and reduces crime. You educate someone and unleash their potential to do what they love. You also gain respect from the community around you. There is a lot of unrecognised talent in our townships,” he says.
Often artists in the townships are not exposed to opportunities for creating music, collaborating on songs outside of their circle or for pursuing music as a full-time career.
“When I collaborate with other artists I first give their track my ear and then I go on to add my trademark Afro and jazzy flavour to the songs. I’m a slow producer, so most artists force me to finish songs faster. I prefer taking my time and perfecting every sound,” he says.
“What I find most interesting with this technique is that sometimes you make a hit in an hour and then discover two days later that there are some irritating elements to it. So, taking my time gives me the opportunity to eliminate such things so that people don’t get bored with my songs easily,” he says.
His latest project is Music Mystery, an explosion of jazzy instrumentals with house and lounge influences that features the smooth electronic house sounds of Gugulethu’s Siohe Tebeka. As with Count Your Blessings, this track seems bound to do well if online downloads are anything to go by.
His biggest influences include traditional venda songs and jazz. He also used to play the tshikona, a Venda flute, and you can sometimes hear it in his music.
Rabs Vhafuwi is a producer to watch in 2015. Listen to some of his songs or follow his movements via his fan page. His brand new album Count Your Blessings is now available at Musica Stores nationwide.
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Source : GroundUp