How SJAVA became a living legend: The Full Story

Highly notable for his polished artistry with a hint of raw and uniqueness. Renowned for his impressive craft portrayed in his lyricism, his music speaks volumes and with his voice paints pictures. Jabulani Hadebe famously known as Sjava is truly the epitome of boundless persistence and distinctiveness that resonates with the masses all over South Africa. This multi award winning musician has had one incredible journey and harbours knowledge and experience. We invited Sjava for a chat about his journey and his point of view about the South African industry.

When did your Journey start? The journey started a long time ago, I’ve been at it for over 15 years. It’s been quite a long journey.

You’re now a well-established musician, but we were first introduced to you as an actor. Are you still an actor?

Yeah, I’ll go back to acting when the time is right. Right now, I’m trying to focus on the music but I’ll definitely go back to acting, maybe around next year. Acting is still in me and it won’t go anywhere, my ambitions actually go beyond acting, I want to be involved in production as well.

Did you start out as an actor or a Musician?

I actually started out as a Musician. What had happened was, I went to what I thought were ‘Yizo-Yizo’ Auditions which were actually ‘Zone 14’ Auditions. I went to the Auditions because ‘Yizo-Yizo’ used to have the best soundtracks and my intentions were to submit my Demo, but when I got there, they told me this is not ‘Yizo-Yizo’ but ‘Zone 14’. However, since I was already there, they encouraged me to audition seeing I had already been waiting in the queue for the whole day. My first reaction was that I’m not an actor and I don’t know anything about acting, but they insisted and handed me the brief so I went on with the audition. I remember later receiving the call that I got the part and I couldn’t believe it thinking it were my crazy friends playing a prank on me, until I got a second call from i-ngamla and that’s when I knew it was no prank. I still couldn’t believe how because there were a lot of talented actors who also auditioned, I didn’t know how I was gonna pull this through but I was handed the script (I had never seen a script before in my life) and I was coached throughout the whole experience. During the shooting of ‘Zone 14’ a few of my then colleagues (the likes of Tony Gorogo who was directing at the time) actually set me down and told me I have potential in this acting thing if I take it seriously, that’s when I started seeing myself as an actor and started getting other roles. However, with every part/role I got, there was still a voice in my head that always reminded me of my music. Finally, one day I decided I have to focus on my music once again, obviously a lot of people thought that was the dumbest idea ever and nobody supported it because they thought I had already made a breakthrough and now I want to start over.

Fast forward 2016, you got signed by Ambitiouz. How did that come about?

Ambitiouz was on the process of signing ‘Emtee’ and he (Emtee) told them that I have my ‘ATM’ guys that I work with, so me and the ATM boys got signed with him. Most of the music you’ve been hearing from us has been there before the record deal, even new singles like Emtee’s ‘Ghetto hero’. Shout out to Emtee for taking us along with him, because someone else could’ve easily forgotten about us.

You have an album that’s doing very well, take us through the journey of making that album.

It was crazy, ‘Ruff’ pioneered the ATM sound and I came with the lyrics. When we put

the structure together a lot of people said this was not gonna work, especially with a song like ‘Uthando’ a lot of record labels were like “nah what genre is this? You need to make a song that appreciates love not a song that’s against love, it’s never gonna work!” However, I felt like I’m not gonna change anything and look at what the song is doing today, It’s amazing. It shows you that if you have stick to whatever you believe in. If it’s real and it’s coming from your heart it can never go wrong, it may take some time but it will become something.

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