DJ Tira on taking a break from music
DJ Tira chats to us at his surprise birthday bash and opens up about his health scare and the new direction he wants to take
HE’S produced charttopping hits for some of Durban’s finest musicians – DJ Cndo, Big Nuz and DJ Clock are just some who spring to mind. Then there’s the empire he built as a DJ and solo artist that saw him become one of the first producers in SA to have his own record label.
But after 20 years in the cut-throat industry and a health scare that recently landed him in hospital, Afrotainment head DJ Tira is stepping out of the limelight.
“I’ve been in the industry for more than two decades. I’ve mastered the game,” he tells us at his surprise birthday party at trendy Durban rooftop venue Views at Twenty5.
But Mthokozisi “Tira” Khathi – who wed Gugu Khathi in a traditional ceremony at his home in KwaHlabisa, northern KwaZulu-Natal last year – has a surprise of his own. Speaking exclusively to DRUM, he reveals he’s planning “the white wedding of the year” next year.
“It will have good food and lots of glitz and glamour. People will have to travel to the remote location. I want the wedding day to be special.”
Tira wouldn’t reveal more, saying he wants to surprise Gugu, who arranged his surprise party attended by family and celeb friends. It also featured recorded video messages from stars who couldn’t attend the party.
“You’ve empowered a lot of people in this game,” DJ Oskido said in his tribute. “You’ve grown and God has blessed you. In life you’ll always have people who love you and those who hate you, life is like that.”
TV personality Lunga Shabalala described Tira as an “industry leader and pioneer” while Khanyi Mbau called on “Malume” to carry on like a rock star.
But Tira says hitting his 40s gave him pause to reflect on life.
“When I entered this platform I was just a kid trying to make it, but I’ve grown. I’ve met influential people who opened doors for me. Now is the right time to venture into other businesses.”
His health scare also contributed to thinking about his future. Tira collapsed in July and was rushed to hospital where he was treated for fatigue.
“I realise I’m not getting younger and I’ve got to secure a good future for my kids and family.
“It’s time for me to grow my business empire. I’m taking a break from music over the next two years to focus on a
property business,” says the businessman, who already owns several properties
FANS need not be alarmed – Tira won’t disappear from the public eye completely. “I’ll be grooming more youngsters behind the scenes. I’m at a stage where I’m no longer living for myself but for those who are less fortunate than me. I’m there to assist them, to hold their hands and guide them.”
He’s helped launch the careers of many struggling artists but recently Tira made headlines for falling out with one of his hottest acts, Big Nuz, which is made up of Mampintsha and Danger. The group’s third member, R Mashesha, died in 2015.
But Danger was the only one seen at Tira’s party and the act is rumoured to be on the verge of collapse as Mampintsha, who manages singer Babes Wodumo, is too busy for the group’s events.
Tira hopes he and Mampintsha will iron out their differences. “There’s tension and distance between us but I pray one day we can sit together and laugh about it.” He’s become wiser with age, Tira says. “I’ve learnt there comes a time when people grow apart and take different directions. I taught myself to forgive and move on.
“In this case, my guess is he’s taken a different direction to focus on his record label. This is where I need to be mature and allow him to grow.”
Tira realises giving Mampintsha space to grow could harm the Big Nuz brand.
“I keep praying this is a phase that will pass. But this could be an indication we also need to focus on other things and ourselves individually,” he adds.
It’s not the first time Tira’s had beef with an artist. Nine years ago he fought with his childhood friend and partner, Mbuso Sokhela, popularly known as DJ Sox
e dynamic duo worked together to create Durban’s Finest, playing at packed exclusive venues.
“In this industry fights are healthy and normal,” Tira says.
“The important thing is maturity and how you handle it. My fight with DJ Sox isn’t worth talking about. What is important is that we managed to resolve it and revive the Durban’s Finest brand.”
TIRA ha s learnt to surround himself with people who share his dreams and goals. “One of those people is Black Coffee. He has a good reputation and I respect his work ethic.
“I appreciate that he’s always willing to help us tap into the international market.”
Black Coffee has a residence in Spain’s party capital of Ibiza and recently invited Tira to visit. “He taught me about Spain and its business models. We spoke about how we can implement some of those business models to benefit our artists here in South Africa.” Could a collaboration be in the works? “We didn’t speak about making music together. At the moment it’s impossible due to our hectic schedules.” Tira knows he needs to slow down. “I suffered from fatigue because I wasn’t resting enough. Mentally I was feeling fine but my body couldn’t take the pressure anymore. Pushing hard can be dangerous and I’m now carefully monitoring my hours in a day. Gugu is also strictly supervising his work hours. She spoke fondly.of him at the party. “In him I found a husband,. a friend and a brother. He works hard and he’s consistent. My husband respects me and that’s what attracted me to him. You humble me, you understand me – you made me who I am and I love you for that. “I promise to love you and respect you forever.” Ti ra ha s nothing but praise for his wife Gugu and hopes she will be p leasant ly surprised by the white wedding he’s secretly planning. “My wife deserves nothing but the best. “She’s been with me in good and bad times. She’s a friend, lover and the best partner I could ever ask for. I just want to make her happy,” he concludes. Now that the cat’s out of the bag about the surprise “wedding of the year”, we’re sure Gugu is already one happy lady.
BELOW: DJ Tira’s wife, Gugu Kathi, recently threw a lavish surprise party for her husband.
RIGHT: The happy couple’s upcoming white wedding will no doubt be a grand affair – it’s already been dubbed “wedding of the year”.
FAR LEFT: DJ Tira cuts his birthday cake as best friend Sammy Mashita, his sister Thabile Kathi and actor Anga Makubalo look on. LEFT: With his mom, Nonhlanhla Abigail Kathi, and his father, Themba Kathi.