Victor Hugo once said, ‘all the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come‘. In the South Africa of circa 2015, something powerful has come. An idea that had been thought to be a foregone myth, yet one that has risen up and left shook the very foundations of our country. What idea is this: a youth that has recognised the power of self-determination. In the midst of this vanguard, you find one, Muziwethu Mtshali aka Tha_MuziK. Entrepreneur, dj and one third of MNM Marketing Solutions.
Now, to hear someone describe themselves as a entrepreneur and a dj, it is easy to imagine a guy in the back room of his mom’s house pushing a vague, nondescript ‘hustle’ while playing tunes at house parties getting shots for payment. When you speak to Muziwethu Mtshali, however, you immediately grasp his sense of urgency and a deliberateness in how he speaks about entrepreneurship and dj’ing. Not only that, but his vast and in depth experience in both fields paint the picture of determination, drive and ambition. He has married the two disciplines and with them carved himself a formidable skill set that make him a business man with not only an acute awareness of commerce but one who has his finger firmly on the pulse of youth culture.
However, this particular skill set is not a nice-to-have, in the tempestuous times that we live in, it is not only necessary but it is imperative. As he points out, the precursor to the ’76 uprising was youthful angst expressed though music. He should know, he comes from a line of activists, by way of his father and grandfather. The latter also being an avid jazz musician.
Armed with BA in Politics and International Relations, Muzi has worked in the marketing departments of companies such as British American Tobacco. He also founded his own company, DOT 3, an events company from which he learnt some of the pitfalls of business and financial management. It was while working at beverage companies such at SABMiller and South African Breweries that he began to gain a greater understanding of not just corporate culture, but also the commercial landscape of the country as it pertained to the youth. Working on brands such as Hansa Pilsener and Peroni Nastro Azzurro, he was able to access insights into the youth markets while staying on the front lines through being part of the teams that put on concerts which featured the likes of N.E.R.D and Usher.
With a background in music production – he has credits in Mam’Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Zibuyile Iinkomo album – it was through his dj’ing career that Muzi was able to be a part of the other side of the commercial line. Having started out in ’98 and can list Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane as his very first manager. Yet, his bent toward jazz opened him up to a different spectrum of music events. Through the gigs which he played at, he was able to connect with the legend Dj Kenzhero. ‘I chased him for years’, he says with a laugh. It was with Dj Kenzhero that he founded Obrigado, a music event that focuses on Latin music. This an event that you are bound to catch bad FOMO with sooner or later.
Through a series of fortunate and unfortunate event – after having much of his music stolen – he began to focus more on the business side of events. In 2014, together with Dj Kenzhero and Tebogo Moalusi, they formed MNM Marketing Solutions is young, multidimensional marketing, events and brand activations business focusing on developing properties and solution for upwardly mobile African market.
In the space of 12 months, the company has managed to pull three music properties namely,Obrigado, Press Play and Rebirth of Cool as well as establishing a partnership with the Brazilian Embassy. The ‘gap’ that Muzi saw in the music events landscape was not one drawn across age demographics as one would think. ‘There was this 22yr old at Obrigado once. I asked what she was doing there since the music was mainly old school latin. She said her father used to play the music when she was growing up, that’s where the appreciation grew from’. While there are events that seem to focus on mid-to-under 20 something, Muzi reckons that the differentiating factor is ‘the state of mind’ rather than age.
There is a lot happening in our country. A lot of uncertainty and anxiety. The old ways are not serving our present or our future very well. The status quo cannot remain, lest things fall apart. But we take find hope in the fact that pioneers such Muziwethu Mtshali are in our presence and not only are they prepared to ‘play’ they part, but he will play his part with a with tailored style and fitted ambition, because he is a Marvin kinda guy.
Writer: Vus Ngxande Photographer: Ricardo Marcus Creative Director: George Gladwin Matsheke