J'Something chats about the impact of African music
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Africa Month has been a celebration of all things from the continent with various concerts and celebrations happening.
Music has been one of the most celebrated art forms on the continent and African artists have enjoyed success not only here but all over the world.
We chatted to Mi Casa vocalist J’Something to talk about what it means to be an African artist, the impact of TikTok on the music industry, and what he’s looking forward to once performing in front of crowds is allowed.
The “Nana” singer has an interesting history – while he was born in Portugal, his father is from Mozambique and his family moved to South Africa when he was young.
Talking about what being an African artist means, he said: “I've always found my identity in humanity and just being a human, you know. I don't like to be categorised according to a specific thing.
“To be an African artist, for me, it's something that I take as part of who I am.
“And I get to carry that energy, that history, that feeling, that vibe with me as an artist and then to use the art to kind of bring that across to people.”
Recently African music genres have been making global inroads with artists such as Wizkid and Burna Boy being recognised around the world.
Speaking about why genres such as afro-beats and amapiano have been getting more popular on a global stage, J’something said: “I think the world is becoming a smaller place.
“And I think that with this recent year and a half that we've been through, the world's become even smaller because everybody's just digitally connected more than ever.
“I think it's more about just understanding the evolution of music. You can't look at music as a singular thing.
“So I think it's just people's ears looking for different things.
“And this energy comes with afro beats and amapiano, and what it is, and it also comes with a whole culture. So it's like hip hop.
“You know, I believe that hip hop became a big thing because it wasn't just music.
“People are attracted to the culture that we portray that comes through afro beats, that comes through amapiano. It's sincere, it's pure. It's African.”
In terms of the music industry, video-sharing app TikTok has become a huge component when it comes to charts and sales with many artists now hoping for TikTok virility.
Speaking about his experience with the app, J’Something said: “I think it's so cool. It's the first social media platform that I felt like.
“And at first, I was stupidly intimidated by it because I was like, damn, I don't want to dance. I dig dancing, but I'm not like a dancer.
“But then I got into it. So I think it's fun, and the point of TikTok for me is fun. It's something that I don't feel pressure on. I feel like I just go there and just have fun.”
The “Your Body” hitmaker also shared how he’s using the app.
“I've just tried to find myself and try to just be me and it has always been that really important is authenticity.
“So I've been doing like a few of these things. I've been doing a few music covers and just jamming.
“I've been fooling around with my wife a little bit, like it's been just a bit of like me in a very different format.”
Starring South African’s own Nomzamo Mbatha, “Coming 2 America” was a huge moment for African music in a big Hollywood film.
Mi Casa’s music was also used in the movie and sharing how that came about, J’Something said: “To be honest with you, man, it was extremely overwhelming.
“Like we had heard that one of our songs wanted to be licensed for the movie, and we didn't kind of understand what it was ... and I was like, okay, cool.
“And then we actually got invited to watch the premiere of the movie and we were the only song on the movie, like from a South African perspective.
“And I was like, wow, that's dope. So it was a huge surprise for us. It was universal that kept that as a surprise.”
Recently the popular South African band also celebrated “Mamela”, which J’Something wrote, going gold.
Sharing his thoughts about this achievement, he said: “It's overwhelming. We had this press conference and I said we've go a lot of these gold records.
“We've reached gold for a lot of songs. We've reached these type of milestones.
“But ’Mamela’ is a very special song out of all the songs that I've written ... because it does come from a personal space.
“And for it to reach a milestone, it was never the goal. You know, the goal was just to make music.
“And I mean, I don't take you the long journey you're on, but it's extremely overwhelming and we feel super blessed.”
Performing artists have been some of the hardest hit with lockdown restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with the vaccine roll-out finally under way on our shores, the possibility of performing in front of a large audience is plausible in the foreseeable future.
Speaking about what he most looks forward to upon returning to the stage, J’Something said: “I'm looking forward to experiencing the love exchange that is a live performance. It’s the energy. It's like nothing else on Earth.
“No matter how many people are there, I escape, I transcend into that space. And I can't wait, man.
“Like, we can't wait to be in front of a big audience with that energy and just get to sing and hear people singing.”
J’Something is also part of the #IamAfrican campaign on TikTok, on which users share their views on what makes them proudly African across various categories.
“I think that we should always stand for things that make us proud and we shouldn't neglect these moments.
“And I think that, like in African month ... we have all these days that we've created as humans.
“So I believe in those moments that come about, even though every day we should take pride in being African and we should think about it and we should document it.
“So I think people should get involved, like because it's important to do.
“And the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to be present and to be honest and to be real.
“And I think that now more than ever we’re just seeing that pride come out.
“And it's like an unstoppable wave, you know?
“So I think we should keep that momentum going and show the world how dope we are.”