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.

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