DJ Tira is one of the household names and most celebrated producers in the South African music fraternity. The real Makoya Bearings, as he is affectionately known, is widely known for unearthing the talented group Big Nuz, and for giving a shot to many unknown upcoming artists transforming them into prominent brands. But who is this DJ Tira and does he really have a degree in science?

Who is DJ Tira?

DJ Tira was born Mthokozi Khathi was born in KwaHlabisa Village, KwaZulu-Natal, on August 24, 1976. In 1979, he relocated from the village to Durban. Growing up, DJ Tira was a sweet, quiet young boy who enjoyed cycling and playing video games.

He attended Mlokothwa High School, a boarding school in Mlokothwa, for his high school education. At this point, his passion for music became apparent. He began purchasing music cassettes and was a huge fan of Boys to Men. He was heavily involved in the entertainment section of school, organising weekend movie screenings and dance music for the school’s fun evenings.

DJ Tira then enrolled at the then-University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal) to study BSoc Science. He was already a DJ at Durban Youth Radio (DYR) in his second year, and he was quite popular with the radio listeners.

DJ Tira Signs Big Nuz

DJ Tira began playing as a DJ in 1996, while still in high school. In 2001, he and DJ Khabzela released their first album, Real Makoya, which is a compilation album.

In 2005, Oskido’s Kalawa Jazzmee put him under their stable. He performed under the group named Tzozo en Professor and later formed Durban’s Finest together with Sox, which also was under the same record label. Dj Tira has history with Oskido as he is the one who signed him in his first music contract, since then DJ Tira became a star.

DJ Tira then went solo and established his recording studio Afrotainment in 2007. His first solo album Ezase Afro vol 1 was certified gold after selling more than 20, 000 copies!

One of DJ Tira’s first notable signings under Afrotainment was the trio Big Nuz in 2008. Their debut album also went gold, winning the 2008 Metro FM Best Kwaito Album Award! Big Nuz went back to studio in collaboration with DJ Tira and their second album also won numerous best album awards, with their hit record ‘Umlilo’ bagging the SAMA Song of the Year award! Four out of their five albums went on to sell 40,000 copies, securing the platinum status, between 2007 and 2017. The group collapsed after the death of their third member in 2017 but the same can’t be said about DJ’s dominance in the industry!

DJ Tira Celebrates 21 years in the Industry

DJ Tira came at an era where you had to reside in Johannesburg for your music career to thrive but he came and shifted the paradigms. His open-door-policy made him become the man that upcoming artists could take their demos to and the next thing their songs were played on radio!

Reflecting on a journey that stretched 21 years back, in 2020 he released his fourth album ‘21 Years of DJ Tira’ which was certified platinum by the RISA, with two singles top-charting on the iTunes Charts!

DJ Tira continues being an important figure in the industry, most prominent Durban artists are either currently working or have worked with him in the past. His latest addition to Afrotainment is the talented Qwabe twins who are currently riding the airwaves. DJ Tira took the Q Twins under his wing after their dramatic exit from Idols SA in 2019. That may have been the end of their journey in the competition but it marked the beginning of their booming career.

The Q Twins’ instant-hit debut single ‘Hamba’ was released in March 2020 and it is currently sitting at twelve million views on YouTube! The Q Twins’ success have further demonstrated DJ Tira’s eye for talent and his consistent willingness to give young talent the platform. Several more artists visit his studio daily at absolutely no cost to them!

DJ Tira has dedicated his entire career putting other artists on radio more than his own music. Makoya Bearings proves true James Keller’s words that, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”


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