On the Weekend Turn Up: Shabzi Madallion

Recording artist Shabzi Madallion has been in the music game for a while now and he’s definitely no artist to be sleeping on. We get behind the lyrics of his latest track “Where ya Homies at” and find out what’s next on the radar for him.

In your newly released single titled “Where Ya Homies At”, you sing about friends that have always been by your side. Who are these friends that have carried you through your journey and how have they helped to shape your music?  As an independent artist it isn’t easy finding like-minded and talented individuals to build with. I’ve been writing rhymes (poetry in the beginning) for 18 years and these past 9 years I’ve been pushing to have a presence in the music industry – in those 9 years I’ve had the honour to meet individuals who are now part of my musical journey:

@NickiWvlker, aka Nicholas Mills. We met during varsity. We both studied sound engineering together and in those 9 years he’s been the creative genius behind the cover arts, music videos (directs, films and edits) and most of the visual presentation regarding my brand. I used to master all the music myself but since we’ve been on this journey together he’s been the man behind the final mix and master. I mix all the vocals myself and as soon as I’m happy with what I’ve done, I send them to him for the final version. He’s also a producer and we have a joint-EP titled “Soul’d Out”, which released in July 2018. His contribution is more than just the above contribution as we are business partners with our own registered companies, Vent Media and Grand Dream (The former being mine and the latter being his). Besides building the ShabZi Madallion brand, we have dreams of building other brands in the future — as soon as we’ve laid a solid foundation for ourselves. Beyond that, Nicholas is like a brother to me. The journey hasn’t always been easy but it helps to have real “Homies” who are there to help you get through it all.

@BeatsbyBlass, real name Ngaletjane Maenetja. We officially met in 2015 but we’ve known and worked with each other for 6 years now. A friend of mine, @Z_lus, used to have a batch of beats to play me and most of the ones I chose to write to or rap on were Blass’ beats. That was 2013. Fast forward to 2015 post “The Hustle” competition, we officially met in the east side of Johannesburg – thanks to @JimmyWiz. Blass has been the man behind the beats for most of my music ever since – I used to make beats for myself for the longest time but working with Blass allowed me to focus more on the writing and the arrangement of the songs because he was and still is making the kind of beats that resonate with my spirit. Blass has also recently (since 2017) started being my official DJ for all my performances. The great thing about that is his willingness to do more and build with me on this musical journey. Music is not a game for me and I can tell that it isn’t a game for him either – his meticulous beat-making approach will make him one of the best Hip Hop producers to come out of SA in the long run. And besides the music, he’s also a brother who has been there for all the good and hard times.

@BigTime_CY, real name Thabiso Rampedi – He’s my brother and for the longest of time he used to support me from the side-lines (From home, from the family perspective) but now he’s part of the team and has been for the last couple of years. He’s the man behind the photography (all the recent ‘model’ pictures), the vlogs (he’s edited and shot most of the “Lions Den” episodes – a web-series on my YouTube page, check out the most recent episode here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zleWm5Kw2l4. He learned how to do all the above from @NickiWvlker as he was the one handling the above before Big Time joined the team.

Big Time is also my hype man/dancer for all my performances, we rehearse on a weekly basis – he helps with making most of my appearances have more presence and a little bit of choreography. Just like Busta Rhymes has Spliff Star as a hype man I’ve always wanted someone like Big Time to be by my side when I perform, someone who knows and cares about the music being performed.

Besides him being my blood brother he is one of my best friends and I learn a lot from him about how to still keep it youthful in a creative way.

– There are a few more people that have helped and continue to help me on this journey and I’m super grateful to have them in times when I need their expertise regarding my musical journey. Also, my fans are my homies too; the support I’ve gotten from them on these socials and on my WhatsApp has been immense and I wouldn’t have gotten this far without their love, encouragement and support.

There are a few more people that have helped and continue to help me on this journey and I’m super grateful to have them in times when I need their expertise regarding my musical journey. Also, my fans are my homies too; the support I’ve gotten from them on these socials and on my WhatsApp has been immense and I wouldn’t have gotten this far without their love, encouragement and support.

Since being released, ‘Where ya homies at’ has been on several radio stations. Many artists mostly rely on social media to get their music out. How did you get your music to play on live radio and do you have any advice for artists who are trying to make the same thing happen?

That’s a very good question; it hasn’t been easy to get my music on radio. I’m not the one who gets it on radio, I just submit and hope for the best – I’ve been doing that for 6 years. I first got played on specialist shows (e.g Hip Hop Shows), what I would do is 1. Do my research on all the Urban/Hip Hop shows on South African radio 2. I would note down all the Dj’s and producers’ running those shows 3. I would find them on social media (what was nice about this is that most of them put their emails in their bios) 4. I would draft a press release (a document talking about my new release with links to the clean version) 5. I would then draft an email asking them if they could feature the music on their “New Music” section of the show (make sure you greet before you ask for anything – it’s respectful) 6. I would attach my bio, the press release, the appropriate links, the ISRC code for the song being submitted (ISRC Codes are obtained at RiSA) and any news related to that release (This can be anything that you think will strengthen the chances of the single being featured) 7. I would put all the email contacts I noted down in the bcc section of the email (Just so they receive the emails individually, it’s less messy and most people don’t like mass emails) 8. I would type out the subject of the email (e.g New Music: ShabZi Madallion – We on Fire) 9. Supply them with the composition information (who wrote the lyrics, who produced the music etc) 10. Push send and hope for the best
At some point in my journey I reached out to “Music Pluggers” or “Radio Pluggers” or “PR Agencies” to help submit on my behalf. The advantage of using a music plugger is the fact that they are a trusted source for “quality releases” by the radio industry but even then that route doesn’t necessarily guarantee airplay. Artists can use that route if they wish – all they have to do is search for them on google. That’s my advice to any artist trying to get their first step into radio. I did the same for online platforms and that’s part of the reason why I have a strong online presence.

You were on Vuzu “The Hustle”. Did this help shape you into the artist that you are today?

It definitely did. I learnt a lot about TV production, performance and most importantly how to strike a balance between being entertaining and being my true self. The Hustle put my face and bars out there and I had to take advantage of the opportunity and make sure that the viewers watching knew my music after the show.

Do you prefer collaboration or are you a lone wolf? If yes, then who would you collab with?

I’m a lion, not a wolf! I love collaboration especially when it’s organic and almost seamless. I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with great artists I respect. Besides all the ones I’ve worked with, these are the others I have major respect for (as far as the craft is concerned) I would love to work with one way or the other;

– Shekhinah, Sjava, Dj PH, Zethu Mashika, Nelz, Anatii, Focalistic, PDotO, ShoMadjozi and Msaki

– Oswin Benjamin, Little Simz, Nick Grant, Blitz the Ambassador

There are way too many artists I’d love to work with at some point in my career, artists who approach their craft with much respect.

There are way too many artists I’d love to work with at some point in my career, artists who approach their craft with much respect.

Do you have any current favourite sneakers?

Right now, ,my favourite sneakers are the PUMA RS-X ATOL, the adidas Originals Yung 96 and the Nike Jumpman black patent leather sneakers.

Who are your favourite local acts – those who have already made it and those who are still up-and-coming?

My favourite mainstream acts are Sjava, Shekhinah, Tumi, Anatii, Black Coffee and my favourite up-and-coming acts are One Shaman, Nandile Ndamase, Sipho The Gift, HMz the Greatest and Payseen.

What’s currently on your playlist?

Walter Williams, Pro kid, Brenda Fassie, Sabrina Claudio, Anik Khan, Tumi, Joyner Lucas, Black Coffee, Nipsey Hussle, Cassper Nyovest and myself.

If you could go on a world tour to anywhere, where would you go?

Based on my social media insights of who consumes my music, the top countries I’d tour first outside of SA would be Angola, Mozambique, Botswana, Nigeria and Namibia. Other countries I’d love to tour include Germany, England, Poland, Netherlands and USA.

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What’s next for ShabZi Madallion?

Pushing my new single, “We On Fire” (currently out on all digital platforms – http://africori.to/weonfire ) and finishing my debut commercial album, “Nomvula” named after my Mother. I’m really excited about that as it won’t sound anything like you’ve heard before, lots of inspiration from a lot of things and people but it’s definitely a side to me people haven’t experienced yet.

Do you have any gigs planned for this year?

Yes, once everything is confirmed the people will be able to keep in touch with where I will be on my socials (@ShabZiMadallion everywhere) but beyond that I definitely want to end of the year with my own one man show.

You’re in Redbat’s latest campaign “Urbanite”. Did you think you’d ever get into modelling?

Honestly I’ve never thought I’d get into it at this level but if I think about it I used to model when I was a toddler. Back in primary school I used to be part of a lot of extra mural activities, one of them being ‘runway modelling’. I later, in 2016, got myself into photographic modelling through an agent I auditioned to be a part of and now I get sent out to audition for different photo-shoots and commercials. I’ve since been featured in a few commercials and on top of that I do a lot of my own photo-shoots with the brothers I mentioned above (Nicki and Big Time) to help build the visual presence of my brand so I’ve had a lot of practice. Being a part of Redbat’s latest campaign was truly fun for me and I think this is the adventure that’s allowed me to finally look at myself as a model.