Ma­bala Noise hits out at de­trac­tors

CityPress - - News - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

Reg­gie Nk­abinde felt the ire of many South African mu­sic fans last week­end when his record la­bel, Ma­bala Noise, swept the Metro FM Awards. The la­bel’s artists took eight awards – in ev­ery cat­e­gory in which they were nom­i­nated – and Song of the Year win­ner Nasty C called Nk­abinde up on stage when he ac­cepted his gong, to boos from some in the au­di­ence.

What fol­lowed was an out­cry from fans on ra­dio sta­tions and Twit­ter, who in­sisted the vote had been in­flu­enced by the fact that Nk­abinde is also the ANC Youth League’s trea­surer, and has po­lit­i­cal ties.

But, in an in­ter­view with City Press on Fri­day, Nk­abinde was adamant that the claims were un­true, say­ing all his em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies voted for their nom­i­nees by SMS.

“We, our fam­i­lies and fans all voted. The re­al­ity is that you can’t buy awards or votes [within that] vot­ing sys­tem,” he said.

How­ever, he de­clined to re­veal how much he spent on air­time for votes.

Last year, it was another po­lit­i­cally con­nected player, Am­bi­tiouz En­ter­tain­ment, owned by Kgosi Mahumapelo, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s younger brother, that dom­i­nated the Metro FM Awards.

Nk­abinde, how­ever, said the way one should view things was that Ma­bala and Am­bi­tiouz were not com­pet­ing with each other, but against “ma­jor record la­bels such as Uni­ver­sal and Sony Mu­sic”.

“Pre­vi­ously, Uni­ver­sal and Sony dom­i­nated the SA Mu­sic Awards. No­body has ever in­sulted or ques­tioned them. This re­ally de­mor­alised and killed the ca­reers of the artists,” he said. Nk­abinde in­sisted that Nasty C de­served his four Metro awards be­cause “we all know his jour­ney”, and be­cause “we have all danced to his hit, Hell Naw”. He said it was sad that those who claim the awards are rigged make a noise on so­cial me­dia, but they don’t vote. “When artists such as mbaqanga singer Si­mon ‘Mahlathini’ Nk­abinde and pop star Brenda Fassie died poor, even though there were al­le­ga­tions that ma­jor record la­bels robbed them of their money, no po­lit­i­cal party ques­tioned them [the record la­bels],” he said, re­fer­ring to Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s al­le­ga­tion this week that Ma­bala Noise had “cor­rupted” the awards. He said he taught his stars how to han­dle their money and to in­vest in busi­ness ar­eas out­side of mu­sic. “Ev­ery time Ma­bala does some­thing great, the EFF is the first to spread ma­li­cious ru­mours, and then South Africans fol­low. This is a po­lit­i­cal agenda. Is the prob­lem Ma­bala Noise or Reg­gie, who is also a mem­ber of the ANC?” he asked. “If the EFF has an is­sue, it must use the cor­rect plat­form and not de­stroy other chil­dren’s ca­reers for cheap pol­i­tics.” He con­tin­ued: “Any­one who says I’m cor­rupt must prove and bring me the ev­i­dence. I’ve never been found guilty of cor­rup­tion.” Nk­abinde in­sists that all he is do­ing is chang­ing the lives of black artists in South Africa for the bet­ter. Ma­bala Noise has 15 per­ma­nent staff and 22 mu­si­cians and actors signed to the la­bel. “Then peo­ple come and tar­nish the im­age of a brand that is help­ing South Africans. It’s un­ac­cept­able,” Nk­abinde fumed. Ma­bala Noise was es­tab­lished in 2012 by Nk­abinde and Bon­gani “DJ Bongz” Dlamini. At that time, it was called Ema­bal­a­bala En­ter­tain­ment, but busi­ness has only picked up in the past two years.

“We also strug­gled. It wasn’t easy to make it as a record la­bel,” Nk­abinde said.

In 2015, the well-con­nected Nk­abinde hit the head­lines with a lav­ish three-day 31st birth­day bash. On the guest list at the R2 mil­lion party were ac­tresses Nomzamo Mbatha and Jes­sica Nkosi, and mu­si­cian DJ Sbu.

Nk­abinde said he had al­ways been pas­sion­ate about mu­sic, and was known for his pantsula dance moves in his home town of Bekkers­dal, Gaut­eng.

“I have an ear for mu­sic. That’s why ev­ery time an artist records, I make time to be in the stu­dio,” he said.

But, one of Ma­bala Noise’s stars, Riky Rick, whose real name is Rikhado Makhado, sent out an an­gry tweet last Satur­day night: “If niggaz can pay for these f***ing awards then my nigga I don’t want them...”

He is said to be con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the la­bel be­cause he is un­happy with how it is run. But Nk­abinde de­nied this, say­ing: “He has never said any­thing to me. As far as I know, he still has a three-year con­tract with us.”

How­ever, he ad­mits that one can never sat­isfy an artist. All one can do is try to meet them half way.

“I don’t en­cour­age all artists to al­ways make pub­lic stunts, es­pe­cially when they are not happy with some­thing. They must rather take the le­gal route,” he said, adding that con­flict be­tween mu­si­cians and their la­bels was nor­mal.

“All artists signed un­der Ma­bala Noise came to join the sta­ble be­cause we sold them a vi­sion. Nasty C had an op­por­tu­nity to be signed by Roc Na­tions Records, owned by US rap­per Jay Z. Al­ready two of our artists have col­lab­o­rated with A-list in­ter­na­tional artists. We are try­ing to build a global foot­print,” he said.

“We all choose dif­fer­ent jour­neys. This is how I give back to an African child,” said Nk­abinde.

PHOTO: JABULANI LANGA

‘CON­NECTED’ Ma­bala Noise boss Reg­gie Nk­abinde at the Metro awards

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