#CTIJF: Sho Madjozi using her culture to master music
Known for rapping in her mother tongue of XiTsonga, she announced herself on the music scene after the release of the hit single Huku.
But, there is more to Sho Madjozi than meets the eye.
She grew up in Shirley Village in Limpopo, named after the American poet Maya Angelou, daughter to a Tsonga mother and white father. She spent several of her teenage years in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and studied African Studies and Creative Writing at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts in the United States of America.
Most of her early work is spoken word under the alias MayaThePoet and race, identity and politics are common themes.
After her return to South Africa in 2016, Wegerif started rapping under the alias Sho Madjozi and found her way to the mainstream with the help of Okmalumkoolkat. She features on his singles Ngiyashisa Bhe and Gqi.
What really makes this Johannesburg-based rapper stand out is her use of Xitsonga. Not only is rap in South Africa a very male-dominated genre, but her insistence on using XiTsonga is all the more remarkable when you consider there are probably only about five million Shangaans in the country, mostly living in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking she is preaching to a very small minority. But, it turns out Xitsonga punchlines over gqom beats, plus her innate fashion sense (she is single-handedly turning the Tsonga dance skirt into a must-have fashion item) are the new cool.
She once said in a television interview: “I don’t think the question is how can I still be cool while rocking my culture. There is nothing cooler than being African right now.”
Sho Madjozi has released tracks with DJ Maphorisa, Khuli Chana, Ghanaian artist Wanlov and Ms Cosmo. Her hit Dumi hi Phone with PS DJz went viral, netting her performance bookings all over the country and hitting the top spot on YFM, plus a top 10 spot on Metro FM.
Wegerif received international exposure for her performance of Wakanda Forever with rapper YCEE at the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg late last year.
In addition to her burgeoning music career, Wegerif also acts as Tsakene in the Mzansi Magic telenovela Isithembiso. She is a presenter on SABC 2’s Nhlalala ya Rixaka and Absolut Vodka South Africa have selected her as one of their Creative Revolutionaries.
Wegerif knows how to leverage social media with her very active Instagram account which portrays her as as a globe-trotting writer, rapper, multi-lingualist (she also raps in English and Swahili) and proud Xibelani (traditional XiTsonga dance) proponent.
– Catch Sho Madjozi live at the 20th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival on March 30 at the Cape Town Convention Centre. Tickets available at www.computicket.com