After Imali Eningi, Big Zulu made a serious claim to fame. The song was popular and ruled the Mzansi charts for a while but Big Zulu is more than just a rapper. He believes in telling stories about the community and Briefly News takes a look at his rise to the top in a feature story.
Big Zulu has made a real name for himself in the South African music industry and he's quite special. The rapper blew up last year with his song Imali Eningi and has been making waves ever since.
Briefly News takes a look at how Big Zulu made it this far in a feature article, detailing his journey from being feared to being one of the most-loved artists in the country.
Early beginnings and the start of his career in Mzansi music
Siyabonga Nene, better known by his stage name Big Zulu, was born and raised in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, and developed an early interest in music.
Maskandi and Scathamiya Music attracted him as a child, and his favourite artists included Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Phuzekhemisi. In 1999, Big Zulu discovered the hip-hop genre and never looked back.
He describes his type of music as Nkabi rap, which simply means hitman rap. He used to be a taxi driver and what's interesting to note about him is that he raps exclusively in his home language, IsiZulu.
Big Zulu got his big break when he took part in the Back to the City rap contest and won. After this, he got signed to Universal Records and things started to look up for him.
Originality, staying true to himself and his roots
One thing fans might notice about Big Zulu is that he never ditched his "taxi driver" look. The rapper decided to stay true to himself even after he signed his record deal. He still wears his formal pants and Carvela shoes - making him look totally different from other rappers.
"I didn't want to come into the hip-hop scene and just add to the numbers by doing what everybody else is doing. I wanted to be my own man and also wanted to draw people's attention to the culture of the taxi industry," he told SowetanLIVE.
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Big Zulu didn't want to give in to the pressure to make music that everyone else was doing. His sound is inspired by Maskandi and he didn't want to rap about girls and cars. He ultimately just wanted to tell stories about black people and the struggles they face in life.
"I am telling stories of our people. As a man who grew up in the villages and spent several years driving a taxi and running my family's taxi business, I have a lot of stories to tell," he said.
Rise to fame and the success of his record Imali Eningi
The rapper was already known by many but once he released Imali Eningi, things started to blow up. The song received millions of views over a period of a few weeks and was played everywhere in Mzansi.
The inspirational song also features in a number of South African advertisements. Big Zulu is not only a rapper but he's also an actor. He currently features on SABC 1's hit soapie Uzalo and has also made appearances on Isibaya and Isithembiso.
He also has a single titled Inhlupheko, which highlights the struggles of people who are less fortunate in Mzansi. The song is currently sitting pretty on the charts and has become a hit amongst Mzansi hip-hop fans.
Relationship status, romantic drama and the lady in his life
Big Zulu is off the market and is in a committed relationship with Lebogang Makenete. They live together in Newtown and have a daughter together. Regrettably, the relationship has been marred by drama on multiple occasions.
The rapper was arrested by Gauteng police in 2018 for allegedly beating his baby momma according to Buzz South Africa. During a separation from Lebogang, he had an affair with PR guru Bulelwa Nazo, and as a result, he had another child with her.
Fan base and growing popularity on social media
Big Zulu has loyal fans who he refers to as the Nkabi Nation. The rapper is extremely popular on social media with hundreds and thousands of followers and has even gained attraction for being a boss.
He is currently planning on taking part in the celebrity boxing matches which were proposed by rapper Cassper Nyovest. His first opponent might be King Monada, much to the amusement of social media users.
Mzansi celebrities come from humble beginnings to make it big
In another feature article, Briefly News took a look at Sho Madjozi's career and journey to being a pop culture icon. Ever since she started her career, Sho Madjozi has had the attention of many South Africans who are in love with the arts.
She's not only a rapper, but she is also a poet and actress. Sho Madjozi has seen her face on billboards in New York and has even met some of her favourite celebrities abroad in the process.
She has not only shown versatility in the entertainment business but she has proved that she's extremely versatile and can take on any challenge that the world throws at her.
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