Not only has he put the country on the map by performing at two different Afropunk Music Festivals (Brooklyn and Paris) but his debut album, Afrovision has been widely acclaimed by listeners from across the globe. Simply put: his time has arrived and he's making the most of it!
After patiently waiting for the chance to speak to him, ZAlebs bumped into the multi-skilled muso at this weekend's Trace Festival, minutes before he took to the stage and we were excited to pick his brain on his image, and of course the weekend's hottest festival (sorry 947...)
We kicked things off with an impromptu conversation which led into our first question. I couldn't help but notice that Muzi always looks and sounds the part but I couldn't help ask how he packages himself so well. We began by asking what his secret was and it was surprisingly simple:
"Be yourself. Everything that we do are things that we want to do. That's how I built a brand because when my career kicked off, I already knew who I was because I know myself. And I have stuck to that consistently."
But being yourself is one thing. Packaging yourself as an internationally marketable product is another altogether. Muzi acknowledged this before explaining his unique formula:
"So yes, I was myself, but then eventually it made it to the music and how I dress and then eventually it made me unique and different to everybody else and that's how I was able to sell myself. Because I have a different energy altogether, I'm this 'new and exciting' thing. I'm in my own lane and that in itself is sellable."
We had a moment of bonding when we spoke less as ZAlebs and Muzi, and more as Tinashe Venge and Muziwakhe Mazibuko. One thing we could both relate on is growing up as "weird" kids; I couldn't help but wonder if this uniqueness fast tracked his growth into an international artist and it turned out that he saw the route to "international fame" quicker than others in his position might have
"The weird kids have a different perspective, we do things differently! I always thought that I was going to get to the point where I'm as good as the international guys. But really the only thing they had wasn't just talent, it was branding and marketing. But then I started to realise that 'international' is actually just a flight away. Once you fly there, you are an 'international' guy in Europe. Once I started going there, I started making connections and building from there."
But what happens if he becomes a bigger star overseas than at home? Some of our most talented musicians have fallen into this trap (The likes of Yugen Blakrock and Toya Delazy come to mind)
"That's a question for South Africans and not for me! Are people in a place to be able to support artists who are doing different things in this industry? I'm going to go where my sound is appreciated"
Alright, back to ZAlebs and Muzi. We shifted the conversation totally and began talking about what he offers on stage. A few days prior, we had spoken to Simmy who explained why she was so excited to see him on stage and he explained why he never sells his audience short:
"It's weird but also cool! Because I do give it my all, I perform every show as if it's my last and I always make sure that people don't get a watered down version"
As for Trace Fest itself, Muzi spoke in glowing terms about the brand's decision to bring the party to the hood.
"It's really dope, I'm glad we brought it eKasi. Being from Durban it feels like I'm eYadini you know? Festivals are usually in cities but sometimes people can't get to that place. But now the festival is HERE and it feels like it's for US
"The more things like this will happen, then the more spotlight eKasi will get. There's a lot of style, there are dances that come from eKasi and what Trace Fest has done is amazing."
Less than 30 minutes after we had spoken to him, Muzi made a grand entrance on the stage and gave what can only be described as a barnstorming performance. The youngster from KZN had the crowd on its feet throughout his set and if people didn't already know him then, he'll have gained a few fans on the night.
Did you watch Muzi performing live at Trace Festival? What did you think of his set and how did it compare to others on the night?
Read More: Here's why Muzi never disappoints
Image Credit: www.Instagram.com/mvziou