DJ Sliqe’s tag, injayam uSliqe (Zulu for “Sliqe is my boy”), is all over the radio, as well as music television. The idea for the tag came when rapper Psyfo uttered the phrase during the original recording of Sliqe’s smash hit Do Like I Do.
“I just want to be the people’s person,” he explains of the inspiration behind adopting the tag. “I want people to feel like, even though you don’t know me, you kind of know me through the music and whatever else we do. I just want to be very accessible.”
I’m in a boardroom at the Sony Music office in Joburg with DJ Sliqe and Shekhinah Donnell. On our way, we’d passed a massive screen in the hallway playing the video for Bay 2, a song where he features AKA, Yanga and JR.
DJ Sliqe has been on a wave ever since he made history last year by becoming the first hip hop DJ to win Best Remix of the Year at the South African Music Awards (Samas). He recently broke yet more ground for the growing fraternity of South African hip hop DJs by becoming the first hip hop DJ to be nominated for a Metro FM Award for Best Hip Hop Album for his debut album Injayam, Vol 1.
The first song on the album is his breakthrough single Do Like I Do, an appropriate introduction to an album that resembles a collection of hit singles seamlessly compiled into a cohesive project. With contributions from the likes of Kwesta, Da L.E.S, Riky Rick and Reason, the album also features a guest list of the who’s who in South African hip hop.
“I kind of had a wish list of artists that I’d like to work with. The joint with Shekhinah is a singing joint, not a hip hop joint, but it’s a hit in that kind of area. With every song we did we carefully picked what kind of sound we were going for,” he says.
He started working on the album around May. He and Tweezy, the album’s executive producer, sat down and produced the beats based on the artists they wanted to feature, and Sliqe pretty much secured every artist he wanted.On first listen, Oceans, featuring Da L.E.S and Shane Eagle, is the stand-out song. I ask him how it came about: “We actually recorded that song at L.E.S’s studio, and his house is just a trap house,” he says. “It’s busy and it’s a party all the time. So we went there for two sessions and the first one just turned into a party and I don’t know what was going on. The second session I had to get him to do the work. Him and Shane were vibing off each other’s energy and they created that crazy song.”
This year his aim is to release his second album. Going forward, he explains he wants to get into the habit of releasing an album a year and that other artists should do the same so as to give fans a steady flow of music to consume. Shekhinah isn’t so convinced and they briefly discuss its practicality.
“But you must, especially because you’ve got the buying market,” Sliqe says to her.
“We all need to get out of this thing of, ‘I can wait two years before I drop another album’.”
Shekhinah and Sliqe have been good friends for a few years now. She says he embodies the characteristics of her brother, hence their friendship came by very naturally. Her favourite song on the album (she’s only heard four so far) is Impilo, which features veteran rapper Ma-E.
“Because I don’t speak vernac, I love to be moved by a vernac song. Like Malum’s (Omalumkoolkat) album, I don’t know what he’s saying, but damn! So that song did it for me,” she says.
Sliqe is currently focusing his energy on the release of his fifth album single, On It, featuring Shekhinah. The concept for the song came when she went to the studio to record and found a lot of people there. She’s typically not comfortable recording in front of a lot of people, so she used that discomfort as the theme for the song.
Sliqe describes himself as a focused and disciplined artist, characteristics which he credits for allowing him to successfully balance his hectic DJ schedule with his full-blown music career. He also says he’s happy about the quality of hip hop coming out of South Africa: “There’s Priddy Ugly making his type of music. There’s Emtee making his African trap music, there’s AKA sampling dance music and Yanga trying to go the Kwaito route.”
But what he doesn’t like is artists recycling each other’s styles. He wants people to be unique. With the success of his album and the pioneering strides he’s made in the industry, Sliqe isn’t just preaching, he’s showing everybody how it’s done.