Sjava and Big Zulu enjoying success as Umbayimbayi reaches gold and platinum status within two weeks of release

BY CityLife Arts Writer

Sjava and Big Zulu, a highly anticipated pair, have been playing in our homes, automobiles, workplaces, and taxi rank.  Their track Umbayimbayi went gold and platinum two weeks after it was released, dominating radio charts and internet music streaming platforms. Along with their album in May, the duo is going to release a joint music video. These Grammy-winning musicians are thrilled to share their music with their followers and anyone else who wants to acknowledge the love theme of the song.

Both artists are moved by the positive response they are receiving. “The love and support we get from the people working on this project mean a lot because it gives us musicians confidence that our music is being appreciated. Everything is going as planned,” said Big Zulu

With more than 2.8 million streaming platforms, the song has rapidly risen in popularity. The single is at the top of several charts, including Apple Music’s Top 25 Johannesburg, Durban, and Top 100 South Africa Charts, demonstrating the great love and support from the fans. Umbayimbayi currently holds the top spot on the Mzansi Hits and Mzansi Soul playlists as well as the Top 25 Durban chart on the streaming site. The song is still at number one on iTunes and is currently third on Apple Music’s Top 100 South Africa chart. Umbayimbayi continues to keep the top spot on Spotify’s Hot Hits South Africa playlist as well as the Made in South Africa playlist.

Given that TikTok users have used the official audio 110K times, the two musical giants are giving us an unrivaled gift. The musical masterminds on their national tour are sure to treat us well.  The tour will begin on June 24 at Sunbet Arena in Time Square, go on to Grandwest Arena in Grandwest on July 29, and the Big Top Arena in Carnival City on August 26 before wrapping off on September 3 at Hollywood bets Kings Park Stadium. You can now purchase tour tickets on Computicket HERE.

“Music takes a lot of time and attention. We have always wanted to collaborate but have been waiting for the ideal opportunity. The outcomes we have now might not have been possible if we had hurried to collaborate.” Sjava commented.

As far as we can tell, this project was thoughtfully designed to satisfy their admirers, and these two titans are now enjoying the fruits of their labour while luring listeners in with their melodic sound

About Inkabi Zezwe

Sjava, whose real name is Jabulani Hadebe was born in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal in 1984.  He began exploring music at age 10, forming his own acapella group ‘Abafana base Mpumalanga’ but his entertainment career was set in motion when he took on acting, starring in popular television shows such as Zone 14 and Gugu no Andile.

His debut album Isina Muva (2016) was his major transition into the music industry and earned him ‘Best Produced Album’ awards at both the Metro FM and South African Music (SAMA) award ceremonies in 2017. That same year, Sjava won the first DStv Mzansi Viewer’s Choice Rising Star.

In 2018 Sjava was featured in the Kendrick Lamar-curated and Grammy-nominated Black Panther: The Album soundtrack. In the same year the superstar won a BET award for ‘Best International Act’ and released his sophomore album Umqhele which scored him ‘Best Afro-Pop Album’ and ‘Album of the Year’ wins at the 2019 SAMAs. His recent album Isibuko (2023) maintains Sjava’s dedication to highlighting the human experience with a rich, bulbous and ethereal soundscape.

Born Siyabonga Nene in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal in 1987, Big Zulu transitioned into rap music in 2008 after a stint in the taxi industry. The rapper’s music is often filled with aspirational subject matter that his fans have long gravitated towards.

He melds Maskandi and Hip-Hop with his gripping flow and cadence. Ushun Wenkabi his debut album was released in 2018 but it was Zulu’s third album Ichwane Lenyoka (2021)that helped catapult him to superstardom. The album boasted the hits ‘Mali Eningi’ featuring Ntaba Yase Dubai and Riky Rick, ‘Inhlupheko’, featuring Mduduzi Ncube and ‘Umuzi eSandton’ with Lwah Ndlunkulu.

As a testament to his persistence and talent, Big Zulu has won several awards including Song of the year for ‘Mali Eningi’ and ‘Album of the Year’ at the 2021 South African Hip Hop Awards. The superstar has also won in the ‘Collaboration of the Year’ at the 27th annual SAMA awards.

As a duo, Sjava and Big Zulu make up Inkabi Zezwe, a project that celebrates the connection they have as Zulu brothers and musicians. This collaboration places them at the precipice of an interesting moment in music and culture. Their music as individual artists travel back and forth through traditional isiZulu musical forms and more contemporary musical expressions.

Sjava is R&B and Afropop / Hip-Hop inclined whereas Big Zulu uses Hip-Hop / Rap to negotiate his musical identity. This ambivalence of genres is a prime opportunity to imagine and create music that is not only an autobiographical anecdote of their intimate worlds but as artists who are attentive to contemporary South Africa. Their new music explores everything that matters to them, love, intimacy, joy, aspiration, and people. Inkabi Zezwe is about community and the beauty of shared experiences. 


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