Most people associate Hip Hop music with bad behaviour; drugs and gangsterism. Ironically for Sakhumzi Yelani (25), music actually helped him stay away from all those bad habits.
“I live in Philippi… Where there is an abundance of marijuana and tik. Smoking these drugs, and committing crimes was popular amongst teenagers so it was rough growing up. Peer pressure and staying away from these activities was challenging but my passion for music helped me overcome the pressure,” says ‘Nature’, as he’s affectionately known by his stage name.
Sakhumzi reflects on his early life in the dusty streets of Marcus Garvey.
“I was born in the Eastern Cape valleys of Bilatye, Lady Frere with my two siblings. I was brought up by a single parent after losing our father when I was at the age of eight. I had a happy childhood despite the challenges we faced that our mother overcame all the time.”
Sakhumzi, which loosely translates to ‘We’re building home’, talks about how his mother’s teaching built him.
“The moulder and shaper of my life is my mom. She taught me respect, values and was always my inspiration. During trials and tribulations she remained my support system, my source of strength also being an example to me and my siblings that giving up is never an option. I would also attribute my success to my high school teacher, Mrs Khakhaza. She didn’t just mould me academically but she was also a parent to me. As teenagers we tend to lose our way when we get to high school but she showed me the right path and helped me focus at school.”
Talking about education, Sakhumzi proves that the stereotype that rappers aren’t educated isn’t true.
“I studied ND Horticulture at the Cape Peninsula of Technology. Education is extremely important because no one can take your education from you. Because of education I know how to present myself and what I possess in the world. I understand the world around me and I keep collecting information everywhere I go to better myself.”
Sakhumzi’s love for music rewinds back to the era of tape radios.
“I discovered the love of music when my mother bought a tape radio and cassettes with instrumentals. I would record my freestyles and from then it became an everyday thing. I do music. I write and perform.
“I’m on the verge of opening my own recording studio to keep the young kids off the streets as well as helping with their school work. I get financial and motivating support from family. Their support shows the love they have for me. They believe in what I do and that belief keeps me going.” He adds that his daughter is, “my drive to wake up each morning to hustle.”
The support he’s been getting speaks volumes!
“People are also buying and downloading my music. Recently I had a sold out show in Saldhana Bay. My greatest achievement was reaching a bigger crowd. I appeared four times on Hype it up and ekse, CTv shows. My video was on their top ten list. I also had a radio interview on Zibonele FM.”
Sakhumzi concludes the interview with a few words to his peers.
“Staying focused and grounded is important so that you can reach your goals. I am passionate about what I do, that helps me stay focused all the time. The belief that I have for what I do keeps me going and the support grounds me. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up, whatever you’re going through. My Mom used to tell me that ‘UThixo soze akuthwalise umthwalo ongapha kwamandla akho.’ God will never give you a load that’s above your strenght,” he sums up.
Tell us: What do you like about Sakhumzi’s story?