TKZee members Zwai Bala, Kabelo Mabalane and Tokollo Tshabalala. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko/INL

Twenty-two years after their first album, "Halloween", the legendary TKZee was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award at the South African Music Awards (SAMAs) in Sun City this past weekend. 

The glamorous ceremony honoured the music trio alongside the acclaimed 90s group Mango Groove and the late hip-hop star Jabulani Tsambo popularly know as HHP.

And while it is accustomed to see rather elderly recipients of this award, Zwai Bala says it was an unexpected honour to receive.

"More than anything, is just an honour for us. It is so cool when you realise that you are not just fooling yourself with your visions and dreams but that everyone else agrees with you, and that is the greatest reward really. 

"It's all good and well to inspire yourself but to have everyone say 'yeah, well deserved' is something special, " said Bala, who is one of the founding members of the group.

TKZee was formed at the wake of Bala's debut album success, when he wasn't keen on producing another one but was rather taken by the vision of the group TKZee, what it can be and the great work a collective workforce can come up with.

"When I envisioned what we could be, it was easy for me to day stuff me. This (the group) was a much more interesting concept and I knew that together we can create something, I believe, that was amazing. So I was so keen and so excited by what could be," he said.

"Everyone has a TKZee story and it's so much more than just music. That is not our own doing, it's not just only about the artists' talent but is also coupled by the times that we were born in.

"These were times that presented to us two worlds. We were those that got the opportunity to attended model C schools such as St Stithians College but also grew up ekasi. So with our music, we were picking up on both sides and that beefed up the content, the entertainment element, the creativity," he added.

And although the group easily formed part of the kwaito culture that dominated in the 90s, Bala said that was not the group's sole genre.

"We gave our music the title Gaaz (Guz) music not being a genre but something that is a combination of different genres. Because if you would put all our songs out as singles, they wouldn't fall under one category.

"But because the urban movement at the time was dictated as kwaito, we didn't mind being referred to as a kwaito group. So with that said, we'd easily share a stage with your Mdus, Thebes and others. It made sense I guess because we were talking to the same people but as a music form, we just went off. We never did Kwaito songs initially but later incorporated it, but when you really look at our music, you'll realise that we gave every genre in one offering, always," he explained.

Zwai Bala was one of the first artists to be nominated at the very first SAMA awards, going against the like of Chicco and Brenda Fassie. To be honoured on these stages in this manner is a big deal for him.

"We really didn't expect something like this now. And it's not about being alive or dead but I mean 'Lifetime Achievement' is really a life time. That's quite something, a great honour especially because no own to dispute that but all agree that this a well deserved award. This was not us putting ourselves out there but someone else came up with it and everyone else agreed, that is pretty cool.

"That's the same as when we took inspiration from people like Stimela and the likes, and now we see all these young guys take from TKZee, already that speaks volumes. But that catalogue is a reference point for a lot in the music space and that humbles us, " he said.

IOL