Malumz on Decks pair, Mandla Mtshali and Oscar Nyathi. Picture: Supplied
After thriving on the Ekurhuleni DJ circuit, Oscar Nyathi and Mandla Mtshali decided to take things to a new level. The house music pair decided to put out their debut album, "The Journey". A year later, their new single, "Shay’ Number" became the most played song on South African radio.

But where did it all begin? “Mandla and I have been friends for 10 or 11 years and when we started playing together, we were just Oscar and Mandla,” explains Nyathi. “Just like how people in Parliament call each other ‘chief’, those of us ekasi call each other ‘malumz’.”

He added: “While sitting in the car, Mandla and I were discussing that people like us but now, what are we going to call ourselves? Mandla was like: ‘Malumz, that means we have a problem’. And I said: ‘Since you’re saying malumz, why don’t we just call ourselves Malumz on Decks’?”

The result was "The Journey" - a soul meets tribal house marriage that spawned many singles. “We knew there was a gap when it comes to Afro-soul and indigenous house music,” Nyathi recalls. “So we brought back that sound and started our own company.”

Their second single, "Conversations," began to give the uncles a buzz. They followed that up with "Ma’Afrika," which sought to encourage pride in people. It was selected by "Rhythm City" as a song frequently played in the soapie. But there was more to it.

“Last year, there was the tragic death of Karabo who was murdered by her boyfriend,” said Nyathi. “So that’s what triggered our song. After that happened, we wanted to know what we could do as Malumz on Decks to make a change somehow.

“Every day, there is a woman dying in this country. The vocalist, fortunately, understood our approach and the video also talked to women abuse. We woke up and that song was playing on six radio stations.”

That was the beginning. Their current jam, "Shay’Number" is dedicated to the DJs. The premise of the song centres on a fearless DJ who risks popularity by playing great music that people may not yet know that they love. This idea of fearlessness comes across in the songs of Malumz on Decks. Songs, like "Conversations" as well.

Said Nyathi: “We started off with trepidation, but we realised that that can hold you back.

“We were afraid of everything when we just started out. But we have gained so much confidence as time went by. If you’re an artist and you want to push your brand, don’t be scared.”