919 Musician and producer Mano T from the stable 'Kalawa Jazmee' during a photo shoot with the Tonight in Melville. 051114. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Therese Owen

When Kalawa Jazmee sampled Mono-T’s album, Timeless, I was excited just by reading the list of names he had worked with on the album. I couldn’t wait to hear it and was not disappointed.

The hype, for me, started when Isolezwe photographer Sandile Makhoba played me the track Burning Sessions. I was blown away. The song features seven vocalists and I had such fun guessing who they were. Stoan, Selwyn, iFani, Pro, AB Crazy, Bricks, Zuluboy (doing the reggae break in the song) and Professor on the chorus.

Mono-T has also collaborated with Uhuru, Cassper Nyovest and Busiswa, among others. It is a varied and bumping album that includes a R&B/house track with AB Crazy, which is now the second single to be released.

The first one was Zandla Phezulu featuring Uhuru, Buck and Character. And here’s a first – it also features Oskido and Tira on the same track.

“I remember, it was after Oskido’s birthday that we celebrated at either Truth or Taboo,” recalls Mono-T.

“After the party we all went back to the studio and I played the beat. Tira started with a Durban hook and Oskido liked it and came on. Then later on I met Uhuru to do the chorus.”

Producer and DJ Mono-T graduated in accounting from Vaal University. “I was good at figures, but I wanted to do sound engineer-ing and work for the SABC. My parents believed that music doesn’t pay and made me study accountancy.

“I was inspired by people like Mandoza, Zola and Brothers of Peace at the time. My friend had vinyls and I became a very boring student, always in my room, practising. In 2003, I had my first gig, at the Vaal Tech. DJ Tokzen was doing the sound and Oskido, Fresh and Kabzela were playing. I remember, I was so nervous. But after that, each time Tokzen booked a gig there, I played.”

That was in 2003. In late 2004 he did a remix of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, which became a hit. At the time, he met Bobstar and Oskido who were very interested in his work. In the meantime he qualified as an accountant. He then joined Kalawa Jazmee through Bobstar and was the first artist to be signed to their dance label.

“I remember the first time I went to their studio in Gallo Manor.

“Bruce Dope and Spikiri were there. When Bruce left that night I asked Spikiri if I could work through the night in their studio. He did not know me and was reluctant to trust me. He slept on the couch while I worked and after that he trusted me in the studio.”

As with all Kalawa Jazmee artists, he had to wait and gain experience while they groomed him before releasing an album. This is Mono-T’s second album, and that grooming has paid off because Timeless is one of the most exciting releases of 2014.