South African musician, entertainer, award winning digital designer and songwriter, Mvelo Xolani (MX) Gwambe was born on 26th of March 1991. He grew up prominently in his hometown Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
His journey as an artist began at a young age, where he participated in school talent shows, and drama shows. MX Started in poetry which then translated to him recording his demo at 15 years old.
MX was part of a Hip Hop Trio Called “Niche Fam”, which was formed in 2009. The trio went onto to becoming popular in the music scene. Niche Fam members decided its best for the members to go solo. Juggling his Music career with his Design passion. MX landed a job at award winning design agency, “Gorilla Creative Media” as a Junior Graphic Designer and learnt alot over 2 & a half years at the company. Designing for over 20 brands such as Mondelez, Unilever, SAB, SANP, and was part of multiple campaigns that have won multiple awards at Smarties, Loeries, Assegai award ceremonies between 2014 – 2016.
In late 2015, MX released his debut project #IAMXep after registering his Media & Communication Company “MX South Africa (PTY) Ltd”. The project received great support with thousands of units independently sold, with his core fans also supporting his clothing merchandise.
While he is about to release his upcoming new project “Committed To The Vision” which is anticipated to be a commercial success and elevate his status, check out my exclusive interview with MX below:
Hey MX! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Ola Ola! The Name is MX from Durban, A creative artist/Musician based in Durban, South Africa.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
For me its mainly, wake up get my coffee, and get on my Mac Book, email & being in studio.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I went to a High school called Westville Boys’ High School, I started taking design (art) serious there thanks to my Art teacher. Mr Paul Lichkus who was very futuristic in his thinking and teaching art. I then went to DUT where I studied Visual Communication (Graphic Design). That’s where I met alot of creatives, my campus had video tech students, Jewelry Design, Journalism and more creative stuff.
I also met alot of musicians there and around that vicinity such as Inseezy, Zakwe, HCL, Dash (DreamTeam) and many more!
Talking about Inseezy, you were very close to him, how did the news of his death reach you?
I got a call from his cousin. After we wondered where he had disappeared to…because we spent a day looking for him thinking his bat died or he was at some other friends.
And what legacy do you think he was able to leave behind, especially for you guys in Durban and South Africa in general?
Inseezy is the ultimate swaglord. Insane. His work and music is forever embedded in our hearts. I know I speak for true emcees when I say that. Line for line, bar for bar. Punchline wise he is the best hands down. Creatively, I say that proudly. He has left a huge void that can’t be filled because of his unique character. And he literally touched the hearts of many SA rappers, it’s a shame and pity most of the public didn’t know like that…but his music lives on and is possibly the realist guy we lost. He had a very loving soul and really loved his music.
You started in poetry which then translated to you recording your demo at age 15, why the interest in music and how will you describe your type of music?
You know I have been doing this for a minute when we say Demo, not mixtape lol anyway I think music caught me at a young age because father collected music, he use to have a huge vinyl collection, and was a big fan of all types of music from the infamous Motown artist (Soul), to local legends jazz musicians and Kwaito artist. I suppose having music always around me made me want to express myself, as I grew up moving alot so the only consistent was music and the lyrics from the artist. My uncle also from Swaziland is a country legend singer, didn’t grow up with him however but I suppose music is what I always meant to do.
How did you come up with the name “MX”?
Truthfully I looked at my favourite artists back then, like 2pac, Eminem (MnM), DMX, I loved how they used their names and shortened it’s (initials) and was first called MXG lol imagine, then I dropped the G. Now I get people calling me “Airmax” and MAX. lol but its chilled cause people from different places say it how they are comfortable with it.
You were part of a group called “Niche Fam”. Why did you guys decide it was best to go solo?
The Name or the Presence of Niche Fam is still there as it transcended just being a group you know? We were fam. We met TaylorMadeBeatz in studio. Myself and Inseezy met Masandi there and the group got birthed from there, but we met as solo artist hence after pushing Niche Fam for some time we decided it was best to focus on our solo efforts. Masandi got a dope opportunity to work with CashtimeLife and they were in Johannesburg, so we made a decision that its best to focus on our solo music.
Tell us more about your company/label, “MX South Africa Productionz (PTY) Ltd”, what’s it all about and which artists are signed to it?
I started the company with the intention to create premium black artistic excellence, I’m not trying to be political lol, but I’ve had the opportunity to study the arts and qualified and had the opportunity to work in “The industry” So I created this company because I have a certain aesthetic taste that’s unique that I want to take out to South Africans and the world at large. I haven’t signed anyone yet, I’m focused on building my base and creating
a solid foundation, so I can empower others.
How’s the music industry in the South Africa and do you feel the industry is doing alot to encourage upcoming acts?
It’s a fast growing scene that is getting widely accepted and cooler across Africa and the world. To be a musician now, when I started this we use to get ridiculed and laughed at, this whole music thing.
Late 2015, you released your debut project “#IAMXep”, now you about to release another EP “Committed to the Vision”. What should your fans be expecting and what inspired the title of the EP?
A musical timeless project, that’s been well thought through and worked on, they can expect alot of truth and bangers!
The first project was very personal and did alot of introspection, this project will have more of a commercial appeal that was intended.
How many tracks are on the new EP and which artists/producers are on it?
There are 10 songs. Artist featured includes; MarazA, Breeze, Masandi, Producers; Keegan Manning, Saak Beatz, TaylorMadeBeatz, Sfiso from Colours of sound.
You recently released the music video for “uMqondo” FT. Breeze and also “#Umjuluko” single. What will you say was the main message behind the song/video?
Umqondo was a song we did a few years ago with my bro Breeze, and we wanted it to have a certain feel and ambiance, and we had an opportunity while we were touring in the Eastern Cape to shoot it, it’s not an official Music Video, more like a vlog just supplying visuals for a song.
Umjuluko is uptempo banger, myself and Breeze are about the gym life, so we wanted to create a nice dance/workout song that’s going to get you pumped, the translation for Umjuluko is Sweat.
You are a young entrepreneurial minded guy. How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Make the most of your 24 hours, cause lets say you sleep between 6-8. You’ve got about 16 hours left, so as long as you are dedicating time to progress in both aspects of your life you are winning, you gotta work hard and play hard. As much as studio and designing and stuff is fun, everything you do has to be well calculated and you can’t prioritise the one over the other. For ex. your recreational time dedicated to you should have an element of actively helping your professional life progress. Hope that makes sense!
How often do you go to the gym and how many hours do you spend while you there?
I gym on average about 4-5 times a week, the sessions are between 1h15 – 1h35 so I spend about 2h30’s a day there.
What’s your 5 Dos and Don’t when it comes to music?
1. Stay true to you
2. What you connect to is likely what someone connects to
3. Don’t follow the wave. It always fades out
4. Do everything you can in educating yourself about music and the music business, none is going to teach you, not your homie who knows someone they gonna talk to cause they knew them from school,
5. nobody is responsible for your success except you.
1. Don’t get honest opinions from people in your outer circle, your inner circle will just gas you (this is a good thing – but don’t overdose on the same people get a variety of opinions from people you don’t know be authentic about it. if your on campus approach a different circle of people introduce yourself ask if they’d be willing to give you an honest review on your music )
2. Don’t send your music to other rappers PLEASE! not unless you know the person like that and they actually want you to win like that or you actually have business with them, if you meant to work with someone it will come, it will happen and it will be dope.
3. Guys I don’t have the Da Vinci code or anything but like this is what I’m advising.
4. Do you, create your core, invest in you & create value in you, you’ll be so surprised at what will start happening.
Is the South African music industry doing enough to encourage upcoming acts?
uhm honestly in this period of time, nah fam. But lets not blame it on anyone or thing cause there’s alot of factors to be taken into consideration in this social climate. My thing is be the change you want to see, be inspired, learn your environment and study the greats and do it your way. I’m not a fan of blaming external forces or “they” everyone is doing their best at what they doing, so focus on you, and the crazy thing is if you feel none is doing anything, or there’s no way, or the doors are being closed. Take a second look at the situation cause opportunity lies in that moment to change it, it’s the ultimate alchemy.
Who are your Top 5 African rappers?
Man, in Africa. well whats the criteria.. lol lyrics or just in terms of success? hayi this is too broad for me but i’ll tell you who I really mess with outside of South Africa (lol I’m not saying anyone in SA) Sarkodie , MI.
What would you say is the main misconception the public have about rapper?
That we all about girls, jewellery, and emulating an American lifestyle.
What aspect surprised you the most once you started in the industry?
What fame does to characters, actually. How people change, That surprised me normal but now nothing surprises me I expect nothing or none to look out for me, except my Family, core fans, and close friends. It’s also very cut throat, at the end of the day it’s business, so you always have to protect and educate yourself as much as you can. You have to be prepared to learn, cause going around thinking you know will end you. No one owes you anything, a compiler/DJ/ Programmer doesn’t owe you spins, Promoters don’t owe you bookings, none owes you anything, do good onto others without expecting anything in return and let the others do what they gotta. I’m an energy person, I don’t entertain vibes that don’t match my frequency, and am attracted to those who give off good ones.
Which brands, producers, directors, clients and musicians have you worked with?
Bro this is super broad lol! there’s so much but anyway from a Design perspective I’ve worked with brands such as AXE, Shield, etc.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
Any artist that’s willing to work, a few years ago I would’ve name dropped but honestly anyone who thinks we could create a great piece of work together.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
Opening for Lil Wayne is still up there, working with international brands is quiet dope, I don’t want to isolate a single thing as I feel the best of me is yet to come.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
There’s a few guys i’d love to collaborate with from my city (Durban), I’m into alot of the overseas relatively unknown musicians or bubbling talent, working with any established artist that sees value in my artistry is obviously a goal, but i’m way beyond that in my thinking and actually open to work with anyone as long as if we connect.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Losing the people that were close to me.
You are very active on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
Well in this day and age content is always king. Putting out content for me is a way for my fans to see my progression and growth, I’m not going to advice it for everyone cause we all different people at the end of the day with different traits.
You were born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, but you have moved around many South African cities like; Johannesburg and Cape Town. Will you say that as given you a brand-new perspective towards life?
Yeah it has, however I’m so loyal to Durban, KZN. I believe our people are so cultured, and loving people. I believe my music emanates that.
What are your must visit travel destinations?
I’m definitely going to do Asia, Europe and the United States.
How would you describe your style?
Depends on the occasion, but genuine.
What music genre appeals to you the most?
I love a whole lot of genres, depends on the mood but its usually hiphop, but i love house, RnB, Neo Soul, Maskanda and more.
Name your five must have accessories/essentials?
1. My notebook (Penpaper) I have one everywhere I go
2. Mac Book with Internet and creative software (Is three things already)
4. Food and Water
5. This is not in order lol cause I can’t eat or drink a notebook lol
What are your favorite fashion trends?
Eyi man its whatever looks good, I love working with fashion designers, and local South African brands as well.
What songs are currently on your playlist?
Committed to the Vision is on repeat no lie.
Apart from music, what other projects are you currently working on?
I got my fingers in alot of pies, lol. Watch me and find out 😉
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
Stay true to yourself, you know wtf you want to make you happy, I’m not talking surface level happiness, find out what drives you, what are you willing to do for free and still be happy, write that ish down keep it to you and go do it. Honestly.
Any specific plans for the future?
More Videos coming, more music and a lotta MX coming your way.
Any final words?
Thanks for this opportunity, I really enjoyed this, thanks for hollaring and hoping to hear and see yall soon!
Mr Committed to the Vision