SA indie scene upbeat as new label signs ‘everyone’

Mabala Noise Entertainment, a virtually unknown new indie label in South Africa, has been signing many of the country's biggest musicians.

Riky Rick recently signed to new label Mabala Noise. Photo:
Riky Rick recently signed to new label Mabala Noise. Photo:

Based in KwaZulu-Natal, Mabala Noise has recently signed a number of prominent South African acts, particularly in the hip-hop arena. It started in late June when popular rapper Riky Rick announced he had signed to the label - apparently because he felt it is one of the few labels that are still ‘fighting for local artists’.

The label recently revealed a suprisingly long list of names of other artists and celebs to have signed to them.  The list includes kwaito legend Zola and Nasty C, aguably the most promising artist in the country at the moment (the young rapper was at one stage rumoured to be signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation in the US).

Other names on the list include hip-hop veterans Pro (former Pro Kid) and Zakwe, young talent in the form of female rapper Gigi Lamayne, Major League, DJ Finzo, Nelspruit-born rapper and producer Jay Spitter, as well as a host of prominent celebs (with music interests) such as Mbali Nkosi, Letoya Makhene, Uzalo actor Kay Sibiya, and ‘professional celeb’ and new Metro FM DJ Khanyi Mbau (whose previous forays into music have been less than successful).

The recent signings of several of South Africa’s hottest young talents have certainly shaken up the local industry. ‘Mabala Noise Entertainment signs everyone’ read a recent headline in The Citizen.

Although Mabala Noise Entertainment, also known as Emabalabala Entertainment, has previously supported the careers of DJ Bongz, Ms Jones, Lvovo, DJ Chynaman and rapper Du Boiz, the new signings have definitely taken them to new heights. The company also recently brought American star Chris Brown to Durban for a one-night-only show, along with Tinashe, Eve and Slum Village.

The label is co-owned by DJ Bongz and his business partner Reggie ‘Gov’Nor’ Nkabinde, the ‘Executive Chair’ of the company. The two are apparently old business partners, clearly with deep pockets. Nkabinde is also the acting Treasurer-General of the ANC Youth League (ANC), the youth arm of South Africa’s ruling party that has in recent years been mired in controversy.

Cultural Revolution?

In an industry where big acts are typically associated to high-profile record labels, Mabala Noise's story is inspiring and could set a new trend in the local music industry. With the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) having recently increased its local content quota to 90%, South African companies and musicians have more opportunities to generate more revenue than before.

Speaking to online music magazine, Nkabinde, who is believed to be the chief investor in the company, said the local entertainment industry is slowly starting to appreciate its own talent. “This is not only about Mabala Noise, it’s a cultural revolution,” he added.

Nkabinde also encouraged South Africans and the government to invest more in local talent across the entertainment industry.  

The increasing strength of Mabala Noise in Durban has also been welcomed by many Durban artists, who have traditionally had to relocate to Johannesburg for better opportunities.  


comments powered by Disqus