Packing a distinct cross-continental sound and Zulu-afrofuturistic visuals, London-based South African MC, Toya Delazy, releases her new single ‘Funani’.
Rapping in isiZulu over a gritty garage beat, Funani is the result of a co-production between Delazy and producer Henry Counsell of Joy Anonymous. ZAlebs caught up with the bubbly musician to learn more about her new release, embracing her culture and her future plans.
“Funani in IsiZulu means 'what do you want?' so it is an expression of going for what you want. It encourages you to be who you want to be. Funani is a notable divergence from the happy pop music my fans have come to expect from me, and my new hard-hitting African-inspired sound is something we’ve dubbed Afro-Rave,” says Delazy.
Directed by acclaimed local music video director, Kyle Lewis, the accompanying Funani video was shot in Tembisa, a township situated in Gauteng, South Africa. The video is a raw, flamboyant feast for the eyes, visualising Afro-Rave in a stunning multi-coloured set, with the help of fashion designer, Blünke Janse van Rensburg delivering the track’s message to ‘be what you want’.
"Funani was shot in Tembisa, which is a township. I just wanted to bring that vibe in a space where sometimes you think nothing happens and it can't be magical. So, the point is to share that you can follow your heart and be who you are. Go fetch your life!" she laughs.
As someone who knows all about fetching their life, having lived in the UK for 4 years, Toya says that it has been quite an experience and she is loving it: "I'm really getting to understand the lifestyle here and I'm making it work. that's all that counts."
Many will view Funani as a language transition for the Need Your Love musician, but she says that the confusion may be caused by the fact that some of her songs in her home language were not promoted as much as her songs in English.
This has subsequently created and driven the misconception that her IsiZulu proficiency is poor, thus driving another misconception about her knowledge of the IsiZulu history and culture; especially being from royalty.
"I've always felt like because I excelled so much with pop I was kind of restricted from speaking IsiZulu. And people didn't even know that I speak IsiZulu. It's a part of me, it's my heritage. I'm so proud of it; especially now that I'm overseas... it's an anchor. If you know where you're from you can see where you're going. So expressing it here and mixing it with this sound (Afro-rave) has formed my identity." she explains.
On heritage day this year (24 September) Toya Delazy received backlash for a tweet about the pivotal role women played in Zulu history. Many felt that her information was misleading, while others felt it was misconstrued.
Although Delazy did not respond to the backlash, we wanted to know what her thoughts were.
"I don't know. Maybe because I don't say it, they assumed I don't know my history. But it's just things we [at home] have spoken about, stories I've heard being told. I was not making it up. These are historical facts that make us who we are.
"When I first came out, everyone thought I was foreign and I wanted to be celebrated as a South African. It's not about being Western, it's about being who we are and being proud of that, so I hope that comes across," Delazy said.
With the recent drop of Funani, Toya says that we can expect more music as she is writing more hits; an Afro-rave album is definitely something we can look out for. She also asked us who we'd like for her to collab with, to which we said "Sjava or Sho Madjozi" ... and she loved the idea!
Funani is available for download and streaming on all digital platforms (Apple Music | Spotify | Deezer | Google Play
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Main image credit: supplied by Indigo Blue Communications