South African musician Joe Nina is a true original. As one of the pioneers of local pop music in the 1990s, he is one of the few artists of his generation whose career extended beyond kwaito, exploring the full musical diversity of Southern Africa.
To mark 25 years in the business of making music, Joe Nina will stage a free concert at Herman’s Place in Soweto, Johannesburg on Saturday 30 April.
Born Makhosini Xaba east of Johannesburg on 12 June 1974 to musician parents, Joe found himself drawn to music from a young age, spending time in the family’s garage studio practicing piano, guitar, drums and other musical instruments.
From his first albums in the early 1990s under the aliases T McCool, Hot Slot Machine and King Rap, Joe experimented with local and international popular genres of the day. As part of the duo LA Beat (alongside Mdu Masilela), the song ‘Boss of the Road’ established him as an innovative composer and producer. The song's slow-paced township groove helped change the face of South African music forever. Still in his early 20s, his creativity found expression in a new genre: kwaito. Joe was celebrated as one of the originators of the genre, a status cemented by the hit ‘Ding Dong’ in 1994. At the time he was also an outspoken critic of his fellow kwaito artists lip-syncing or performing to backing tracks
To date, Joe Nina has released more than 10 albums, including Unchained (2009) and Back Together 4 Life (2014). He has also produced and written songs for more than 50 artists, including Ringo Madlingozi and the African Jazz Pioneers, also working alongside Victor Ntoni, Ray Phiri (Stimela), Sibongile Khumalo, Babsy Mlangeni, Patricia Majalisa, Sharon Dee, Tsepo Tshola (Sankomota), Steve Kekana, Brenda Fassie and Stompie Mavi.
Committed to the development of local music talent, Joe Nina is a devoted arts activist who believes in artists’ economic independence – and that a new business model for musicians, one with sound commercial rewards, is long overdue. Musicians, he believes, must be able to share their unique talents while leading a life that does not necessarily have to be characterized by sacrifice and hardship. His self-funded label, Killa Joe Records, is testimony to his commitment to documenting indigenous African music. He believes that music is the umbilical cord that emotionally connects all humans. It is a heritage that restores, nurtures and protects our collective memories and national identity - and an expression of our love for life.
A true humanitarian, Joe marked his 40th birthday in 2014 not by throwing a huge party or traditional ceremony but by donating to needy children at the Lord is My Shepherd Orphanage in Kwatsaduza on the East Rand of Gauteng. His recent work calls on humanity to co-exist in an environment of tolerance. It was initiated during the 2015 xenophobic attacks in South Africa and seeks to promote recognition of our diverse cultural heritage.
“Having lived ekasi [in the township] for most of my life, I have always felt that umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu - a community is a community because of the united effort of the people working together to reach a common goal of survival,” says Joe.
For more details on the upcoming concert, see the Facebook event page.