Long mu­si­cal odyssey for SA’s Sjava to BET Awards

Sunday Times - - News | The A-listers - By PEARL BOSHOMANE TSOTETSI

● It took South African artist Sjava (real name Jab­u­lani Hadebe) 25 hours to get to Los Angeles from Jo­han­nes­burg.

The KwaZulu-Natal-born mu­si­cian has been nom­i­nated in the pres­ti­gious View­ers’ Choice Best In­ter­na­tional Act cat­e­gory at the 2018 BET Awards in the US.

Tonight Sjava will know whether the long jour­ney to Cal­i­for­nia has paid off. But even if he doesn’t win, he knows that be­ing nom­i­nated is an honour.

It’s been a big year for the 34-year-old, who was one of three South African artists to fea­ture on the Black Pan­ther film sound­track, re­leased in Fe­bru­ary. Cu­rated by Amer­i­can rap su­per­star and Pulitzer prize win­ner Ken­drick La­mar, the al­bum also fea­tures ap­pear­ances by Babes Wo­dumo and Jo­han­nes­burg-based rap­per Yu­gen Blakrok.

About be­ing ap­proached for the sound­track, Sjava said: “Ken­drick loved how I stayed true to the cul­ture and how I rep­re­sent where I come from. If I was mak­ing the mu­sic they have in Amer­ica, I don’t think he was go­ing to reach out. I have some­thing that they don’t have.”

Sjava, who has a new EP coming out this week (his al­bum, Isina Muva, was re­leased in 2016), said that while he might seem like an overnight sen­sa­tion, his new-found suc­cess had been a long time coming — he’s been mak­ing mu­sic for 16 years.

About “mak­ing it” in his 30s, he told the Sun­day Times: “Some­times I thank God it took time be­cause [the mu­sic] was not go­ing to be this ma­ture, I was not go­ing to have these sto­ries that I’m talk­ing about, I was not go­ing to have my life as a tes­ti­mony. I’ve looked at [the strug­gle to make it] in a pos­i­tive way. It’s like go­ing to univer­sity — you have as­sign­ments, you fail some, you pass some, you’ll have fees prob­lems. It will be a long course.”

Sjava is es­pe­cially proud that he’s be­come suc­cess­ful on his own terms, by stay­ing true to him­self.

Walk­ing the red car­pet at a pre-awards party on Fri­day cel­e­brat­ing African tal­ent and at­tended by Cassper Ny­ovest, Pearl Thusi, Davido and Fally Ipupa, Sjava wore red, white and black to sig­nify his spir­i­tual jour­ney. But he was cam­era-shy.

He was a far cry from rap­per Ny­ovest, who joked to pho­tog­ra­phers snap­ping away while he posed on the car­pet that know­ing which cam­era to look at was “like jug­gling girl­friends”. Ny­ovest is also nom­i­nated at the BETs, in the Best In­ter­na­tional Act cat­e­gory.

Other Africans nom­i­nated in the cat­e­gory in­clude South Africa’s Distruc­tion Boyz, Congo’s Ipupa and Nige­rian su­per­stars Davido and Tiwa Savage.

Ny­ovest told Nandi Ma­dida dur­ing their red car­pet in­ter­view that he wanted to win but he was will­ing to lose to Davido.

This year’s BET Awards are themed “Blackanda” (a ref­er­ence to the fic­tional na­tion Wakanda in Black Pan­ther) and mark the first time that the Best In­ter­na­tional Act award will be handed out dur­ing the live tele­vised cer­e­mony rather than be­fore it.

The BET Awards will be shown on BET (DStv chan­nel 129) on Tues­day at 8pm.

Pic­ture: Twit­ter

Jab­u­lani Hadebe, aka Sjava, is glad to have found fame on his own terms.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.