Emtee needs no introduction nor does he need validation with regards to his triumph and hustle. The Ghetto Hero graced us with his presence to talk about his rise to stardom and his incredibly crafted body of work, his latest Album “Manando”.
First thing’s first since this is Kas’lam magazine, please tell us where you’re original from and how was it like growing up in your kasi? I grew up in a lot of hoods, Soweto, eMatatiele (botha Township and a village) and not forgetting the city of Joziwhere I learned to hustle for myself.
Usually when a kid is sent to move in with his grandparents it is because he is a trouble-maker, is that why you moved from Soweto to Matatiele? Nah, I think my parents really just wanted me to know where I come from and I took that opportunity with both hands because I was really interested in knowing about my roots, my culture and heritage.
Musically, when did it all start? Music has always been there in my life, my parents played a lot of music in the house and I was always that kid who knew a lot of songs, even songs I shouldn’t have known at my age I knew. When Kwaito came out I started writing my own music, people don’t know that I started out writing Kwaito music, I was about 9 at that time. I think the real indication that music was my thing was when I was in grade 1 and I entered a school talent show and surprisingly I was the youngest in the competition but my performance blew people away. It was a nice surprise for a lot of people to see me on the stage full of energy because I was that quiet kid who was never really out there. I then realised that I actually have that presence which interests people so why not carry on, and from that point on I was writing my own music and started going to local studios to record. I was about 13 years old when I recorded my first song in a professional studio. I had saved up money and I funded it myself.
We know you started working with the ATM guys like Ruff, Saudi and Sjava before you got signed by Ambitiouz Ent, how did you guys hook up? Since I was young I had always been in and out of studios, sometimes I would not come back home for a long time and they probably thought I was partying but Was actually just studio hopping. So, I was known as that kid who just comes in, kills and moves on. So, through that lifestyle I bumped into ‘Maraza’, when I met him I made sure I made that moment count. I just gave him my music, I remember I had a pink J700 and I was the only one with that phone*lol*. I gave him the phone with the earphones to listen to the music and he told me he was going somewhere, I was like I don’t mind I’ll go with and you don’t even have to speak to me just listen to the music. By the time we got to the till at Shoprite he was about halfway through the project and he was like ‘Yo, let’s go to my house right now! I got some beats you can listen to and choose a few’. So, months went on and we started making a lot of music together, years went on and he became my Mentor. Through ‘Maraza’ I met ‘Ruff’, ‘Ruff’owned a Studio downtown with the late ‘SK’. I think when we met ‘Ruff” that defining moment and the first time I got introduced to real quality production. From then on it was my dream to have him as my main producer because he was about that quality and I loved his passion for the music, so I eventually approached him and we started working together. Through that journey I met the rest of the guys and now here we are.
It’s just been a couple of years since your breakout single ‘Roll up’, but it feels like you’ve been dominating forever. What is it that you’re doing right? I feel like it’s consistency,because whether I was breaking or didn’t have money the way I made music never changed. I think it’s because I put my heart and soul into the lyrics, every word every sentence is real. I also feel like I’m an interesting person in general so I make music about my life. I mean how do you come from a village to being in the streets of London performing for people who don’t understand your lyrics but they love your music …