With a growing business empire and a new record label to boot, DJ Zinhle is only just getting started

DJ Zinhle.

DJ Zinhle.

Published Dec 4, 2022


DJ Zinhle never imagined she’d be a businesswoman. Back when she was a student at the University of Johannesburg, all she imagined was that she’d “just be someone that worked at the office”.

Over time, as she grew into a prolific DJ and an influential public figure, she realised that her influence could be a powerful tool in business.

“I used to watch Kimora Lee Simmons a lot when I was younger, and she really put something into me,” she says.

“I really loved how she was running her business. And if you’ve ever heard of her and how she’s running her things, you’ll see a lot of similarities between me and her because she had kids and she was running this empire.

“She really sparked something in me.”

The 38-year-old, who was born Ntombezinhle Jiyane, would also watch local celebrities who had influence at the time and imagine what she would do business wise if she had their level of influence.

She’s taken all those learnings and used them to guide her moves in business.

“When I started, I didn't think I was starting anything big. You know, you start small, and then, eventually, you grow. You fail and you grow, and then you realise that, oh, okay, actually, I can do something major here.

“Now I feel like, after all these years in business, this time is when we’re actually getting started.”

Dj Zinhle announced as the number 1 female DJ in Africa . Photo Social Media

Zinhle’s exploits as a businesswoman behind powerhouse brands like her jewellery and accessories brand Era By DJ Zinhle and French sparkling wine brand Boulevard Nectar Rose have meant that her own music has often taken a back seat over the past few years.

But after over a year without a release of her own, a few weeks ago, she released a new single alongside Mvzzle and Sindi Nkosazana titled “Ngisimamise”.

Zinhle explains how this was all set into motion after Mvzzle sent the original idea of the song that he and Nkosazana had recorded to Zinhle, asking her what she thought.

After Zinhle listened to it the first time, she wasn’t sold – “And then I put my headphones on, and I thought, ‘Okay, there’s something here’.”

She then set up a studio session with the pair to finish the song. The result is a classic Zinhle house record with the potential to make waves throughout the summer.

To her credit, Zinhle is one of the few major acts that constantly makes a point of collaborating with fresh talent.

“I just always find that it’s easier to work with younger artists that haven’t signed big deals,” she explains. “It just makes sense because I'm also a business person. So outside of talent, it just makes things so much easier in terms of availability and all the other things.

“But I really also love the idea of giving new talent a chance because I feel like it’s almost just always easy to automatically go to a big artist and work with a big artist.”

DJ Zinhle and hubby Murdah Bongz. Picture: Instagram

This approach has also been fruitful commercially. Case in point is Zinhle’s previous work with Mvzzle on 2019’s “Umlilo”, which went on to be crowned Song of the Year and is arguably the biggest song of her career to date.

Having promised a new album for years now, I ask her if this single is potentially leading towards one. “No,” she says with a chuckle. “I no longer promise any albums anymore because I’ve been promising people a full album since I last released a full album in 2009. So, no more.”

She also adds that she’s found that singles work better for her, and time wise, she doesn’t feel like she can commit to an album at the moment.

At some point, though, she feels her husband, the DJ and producer Bongani “Morda” Mohosana, will make her commit to one.

“I would really love to get to a space where I can take time off all the other work and just focus on music,” she adds. “Music is so demanding. I don’t think people understand that. Maybe one day I’ll have enough time.”

As Zinhle has grown into a huge national star over the years, she’s shifted from a distinctly tomboy aesthetic and embraced a more feminine and glamorous appeal.

That shift has been super international, she explains.

“For me I feel like it’s part of the job. Presenting yourself in a certain way, you need to look a certain way, and you need to give people a certain idea. So I just feel like it’s a really big part of what I do.

“People say, ‘How come you lost weight so fast after the baby?’ It’s because I understand that my image is part of my work.

“So I need to be in tip-top shape and not just in a sense of the way I look but also what it does for me mentally. And also because I’m a girl, I enjoy those things.”

Speaking about the journey of being a new mom again, having recently welcomed a baby girl named Asante into their family with her husband, Zinhle says this experience has brought her and her first child, Kairo, closer.

“I also think Kairo is more independent now because she’s older. But with Asante, she’s a baby, and it’s just made us so close again with Kairo because I just want to be with the kids all the time. It's such a wholesome moment with the kids now.

“Kairo is feeling like the older, responsible sister, and we just have this little girl that’s made our bonding stronger.”

The next chapter of Zinhle’s career will see her pushing Asante Music, which is her and her husband’s new record label through which they both put out their latest releases.

“We’re hoping that there’ll be exciting projects under that record label, “ she says.

“We’ve been signed to different labels for such a long time, so this is an exciting journey for us. We just want to see if we can, and we’re super excited about just getting other artists involved.”