At just 23 years old, Heavy K is fast approaching legendary status. The house producer took Helen Herimbi through some of the highlights of his second album.
‘Heavy K doesn’t know when his album will be released because he keeps making news songs and trying to add them to the album,” exclaims Kalawa Jazmee’s Sina on the other end of the phone. He’s not lying.
When photographer Thuli Mbatha and I arrive at Heavy K’s mini mansion in Midrand around noon, he’s still asleep. Sox, whom you might remember from this year’s Big Brother Mzansi, is under a blanket on the couch. He, too, has been asleep. Wiping what’s left of a dream from his eyes, he tells us Heavy K and the boys didn’t get any shut-eye until after four that morning.
The producer who was born Mkhululi Siqula was up all night making music. Will it appear on his second album, Respect the Drumboss 2015? Sox smiles and says: “Maybe.”
After a while, the young gun who broke into the music scene with the hit, Wena, featuring Mpumi, comes outside to meet us.
“I’m done with the album,” he says as he poses for Thuli. “It’s a double album and as we’re talking, the songs are being mastered in Cape Town.”
The album is meant to have 22-tracks, but “last week, I did a song with Speedy and thought, ‘maybe Riky Rick can do something here’. Even though I’m done, it’s like when you’re cooking, but you keep adding spices.”
Music is the food of life after all, and the song featuring Riky and Speedy is probably going to play on and on this summer. It’s about a fly chick shaking what her momma gave her and the beat has a quick drum pattern that borrows from marimba. Heavy K doesn’t seem like a flashy guy, but he insists on being photographed on his Mercedes-Benz C63 – you know, the model Cassper Nyovest wants and wishes he could tell us why.
The luminous yellow car was Heavy K’s dream car and is an extension of his quest to start and stay in his own lane. This is obvious when we sit down in the home studio. It’s a scorching day, but it’s not as hot as the music he plays me as he beams with pride. A plastic crucifix is stuck to the wall, eye-level with Heavy K who reclines in the swivelling chair.
The Port Elizabeth-bred muso speaks about creating a blueprint for African house music as though it was divine intervention. Before he released his debut album, Respect The Drumboss 2013, he was led to put African drums at the core of his music.
“Before Busi Mhlongo passed,” he remembers, “I (as part of Point 5) did a remix of her song Izizwe and it was very popular. Even when I use international-sounding chords, I make sure the beat and vocalists are distinctly African.”
He admits that his gold-selling debut put a lot of pressure on him: “At first, I was really scared. I couldn’t let the fact that it sold well go. I named my album that because I wanted people to respect my music more than anything else. It’s a big title so I had to make sure the music is at the level where it is undeniably respectable.”
So he decided to keep the title and change the year of release as he churns out albums because “I want to continue building on that respect.” If his first single, Sweetie, featuring Nokwazi, is anything to go by, that respect remains intact. Heavy K also played us a song featuring Nigerian artist, Burna Boy.
“I don’t understand what he’s saying, either,” Heavy K laughs as Burna’s patois fills the room, “but it’s going to open doors for other producers to try new sounds.”
He turns the song down to tell me: “This song will put me on a bigger platform. It’ll be my crossover because I’m not competing with DJs in South Africa, I’m coming for David Guetta!” He also played Mzwangedwa, featuring Mondli Ngcobo. Mondli’s voice is so smooth and neo-soul inspired over these crazy drums that you’ll forget this is someone who told us Koze Kuse all of last summer.
As expected, there is a song, called Moya, featuring frequent collaborator, Professor. With an enveloping baseline, it’s about someone taking your breath away. Heavy K moves his hands up and down his knees while the song plays and grins with his eyes closed when Mpumi starts singing. It’s a pleasant surprise and special to the producer as these artists had a major hand in his success.
“From Lento to Beautiful War and now Nguye Lo, everything Professor and I do is a hit,” he smiles. “Even with Mpumi, our working relationship is amazing because we click. People are going to lose their bonuses to this album!” Then he leans in for a hi-five.