By Kirsten Harris & Nelisa Mniki
Musician, poet, actor, producer and father, Zola has proven to be one of the most successful South African Kwaito artists to date. His debut album Umdlwembe, released June 2004, sold over 180 000 copies and received triple platinum status. By meshing a number of genres, Zola has managed to merge hip hop, gospel, traditional Zulu and Sotha music, creating a truly Ghetto fabulous collage of tracks. He later released a second album Khokhovula which was well received and sold over 80 000 copies and record sales are still climbing. Many find themselves listening to Zola’s home grown sounds which are considered diverse and richly textured. He released his third album Bhambatha in June 2005. He spent many months in studio producing Bhambatha. This album mirrors the mature side of Zola, as the lyrics reflect an intelligence, maturity and the sentiment not often found in kwaito music. He relives memories about life, love and hope in kasi life. His fourth album Ibutho, which means ‘warriors’ in Zulu, is his most recent album which was released in 2006. In this album, Zola goes back to his Umdlwembe roots where a more traditional influence emanates from the tracks. With the success of the internationally renowned movie Tsotsi, Zola who not only acted but also performed the soundtrack, has managed to gain national and international fame. The Soweto born performer and former tsotsi, who grew up in the ghetto, has managed to capture his personal life experiences in a positive light. Through his richly textured and diverse sounds, he has become the South African king of kwaito.