The name Emtee rings bells in the hip hop streets and corners of Mzansi. His debut song titled ‘Roll Up’ in 2015 was an anthem oldies and youngies could sing along to! The song introduced that unique sound to the industry and that arguably certified Emtee as the rapper (or ‘trapper’, if you please) who actually introduced trap music in South Africa. But who is this Emtee and why is he often dubbed the ‘G.O.AT’?
Who is Emtee?
Emtee was born Mthembeni Ndevu in 1992 in the mid-sized town Matatiele, situated in the Eastern Cape. However, he moved to Gauteng and grew up in one of the biggest townships there in Rockville, Soweto. Emtee always knew he wanted to become a musician from Grade 1, with his first performance at only nine years old at a talent show.
Emtee continued to work on his dreams throughout his schooling career. His matric symbols weren’t good enough to land him a spot at a major South African university but he opted not to improve his results and rather focused on hustling for his blow up in the music industry. Speaking of hustling, his name was Emtee Da Hustla but he was later referred to as simply Emtee. He has two sons, Avery and Logan.
Emtee joins Ambitiouz Entertainment
South African rapper Maraza and Emtee collaborated to release a song titled ‘In it to win it’ in 2010 and got their first TV airplay on Channel O. But before this, Emtee was part of a rap trio called African Trap Movement and his group members were the equally big names, Sjava and Saudi. All three of them, although they have now gone solo, were signed under one of the biggest and most influential independent record labels in the country, Ambitiouz Entertainment.
In early 2015, Emtee was working on his debut album ‘Avery’, named after his first son, with his friend and producer Ruff when they recorded and finalised a song in two hours titled, ‘Roll Up’. What they surely wouldn’t have imagined at that point in time was that they had just finalised a song that would change and influence the face of South African music forever!
“Roll Up was recorded within a tight schedule, because me and my team were finalizing my debut album,” Emtee told the media at the time. In that same year, at the South African Music Awards (SAMAs), he received five nominations and bagged the awards for Rap Album of the Year and Song of the Year for ‘Roll Up’.
Later that year, Emtee won his second Song of the Year award, again for ‘Roll Up’ at the 2015 South African Hip Hop Awards, beating two other gold-selling artists in the race.
In December 2015, Avery was released on iTunes and to local retail stores. The album went platinum! He closed off that year as the third-most played South African hip hop artist and took tenth place in all genres.
Emtee’s relationship with Ambitiouz turns sour
Emtee continued his dominance under his label in 2016 and it was around this time that hip hop followers started recognising Ambitiouz. Known for producing hits, clean visuals and housing the biggest names in the industry, Ambitiouz was now seen as the best thing in Mzansi. Emtee released another hit song this year titled ‘We Up’ and just continued to climb the ladder of success.
However, it was at this peak in 2019 that his relationship with Ambitiouz was reported as turning sour after several label mates had dumped the stable citing instability. Although Emtee tried to brush aside the rumours for a long time, and even went as far as fighting former label mates for “jumping ship”, the truth eventually found a way out.
“After some thought and for the sake of my family, friends and my supporters worldwide, I have decided it is best to clarify things and set the record straight. Following a long and in-depth reflection on my career as an artist, where I am now and where I see myself in the next few years, I have made a decision that the time has come for me to now part ways with Ambitiouz Entertainment,” he had released a statement. One of his complaints was Ambitiouz had not paid him for the success of Avery.
Emtee Records is born
A month after his departure, he established his own label, Emtee Records, under African Trap Movement. “My music is going to be different because I have freedom of creativity now, freedom of speech. I’ll be touching on important topics which I’ve always wanted to touch on as well as the fun ones.”
Some six years ago and several accolades since Emtee’s blow up, he’s working on his highly-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Logan’, named after his second son. What’s more interesting about the Logan album is that he has featured a not-so-known Cape Town-based artist he signed under Emtee Records, Flash iKumkani. Tweeps have been applauding him for giving other young artists such a huge platform. Logan will be released in March 2021.
Emtee didn’t let hiccups make him feel empty and stand in his way. Even as an independent artist, he remains an important player in the industry and has earned his status as the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time) for always slaughtering the chorus and beats!
Ever wondered about the song in the #DuduzaneChallenge? Read here to find out more about it.
Tell us: How has Emtee’s journey inspired you?