092 05.12.2012 Nathi Maphumulo, known as DJ Black Coffee, poses for images at the Warm & Glad, Craighall Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Itumeleng English

In a man’s world, there are cool dudes and those who aspire to be cool dudes. Black Coffee is the former.

Nothing about him is forced, he just exudes chilled vibes, as they say on the streets. He comes across as the reserved type in the way he dresses and talks. You’ll only get a reaction if you ask him something, which is interesting for someone who has acquired a lot in a short space of time.

“Since I was young I always wanted to be what I am,” he said.

“I want to be greater, but with that I also know the best thing for me to [do to] enjoy that would be to be me. The best way to enjoy success is to be real, being original, where everything still excites you the way it would have 10 years ago.

“I am still that guy who is excited to be in the same room with Oskido the way I was before I knew him on the level that I do now. He was Bra Oskido and he is still Bra Oskido to me today. I still see things the same way I did when I started out,” the DJ said.

Let’s face it, there are people who could say these things and we’d not buy it for a second. But if Black Coffee isn’t on the decks playing at some gig, or travelling the world, we never see him anywhere else. In fact, it is very interesting how he is so calm so often that it becomes a big deal when he dances on stage with Zakes Bantwini to one of his songs.

“I have friends who understand that about me and those are my friends. There are those who come with reservations and are not sure how to merge the guy they see on TV and the regular me. They come with big talk and have expectations about me because I have travelled around the world so they expect me to be in a certain frame of mind. But it doesn’t take for ever before I lose them because for me it is not an act, I am just an easy person and prefer to be laid-back,” he clarified.

He also confirmed my suspicion that unless he is performing, Black Coffee does not break bread with the entertainment industry for any reason.

“I don’t want to rock up in a place and have people ask to take pictures because I am not going to say ‘no’. But that means a lot of time passing by. I don’t mind doing that when I have gone there to perform, but I just try to stay away so that it doesn’t get to a point where it weighs me down and I start regretting that I miss my life,” he explained.

Moving on to his CD Africa Rising, Black Coffee made several of the recordings in interesting environments, from airport terminals to hotel lobbies.

“It’s an environment thing for me, you know,” he started.

“For example, on Afraid of the Dark, I did that song in New York, but with a guy from London, Nathan Adams. I did the song, sent it to them, and they sent it back with their input. I changed it about five times after they’d written some lyrics over the original beats. So I have Afraid of the Dark (Greece), I have Afraid of the Dark (Paris), (Portugal) and so on,” he explained.

He also said the song Buya is saved on his computer as Buya (Luanda) as the favoured version which came about when he was on a two-hour flight to Luanda.

Apart from Adams, Black Coffee also worked with Tortured Soul, Kenny Bobien and Nomsa Mazwai. The inclusion of these musicians from different backgrounds ensures that Black Coffee’s sound stays as diverse as possible. He said this was only the beginning of his collaborations as future albums will feature many artists from across the globe.

“I always tell guys who want me to do remixes that the best time to give me the music is when I am on the road. When I am here I’m home; that’s my family time. I switch off from everything else and just spend time at home,” he said.

The Africa Rising CD and DVD feature old and new music, showing the growth of the DJ’s musical career. After having worked with the likes of Oskido and Zakes Bantwini in the past, Black Coffee took his sound a notch higher when he included a 24-piece orchestra.

“I wanted to put three new tracks on the DVD and have them as bonus tracks on the CD, but there wasn’t enough space on the CD for those songs. So since I had been working on some material I decided to add seven more and make an extra CD,” he explained.

Whether you buy the CD or the DVD, you will understand what the shy genius has been up to from the time he made his first song to date.

• See the Africa Rising DVD review on Page 4. The CD and DVD are available in music stores.