DJ Shimza debuted Kunye records to the international market on 8 April 2022 in the UK. He showcased South African talent in the afro tech space and hopes to continue to do like shows in the future.
Ashley Raphala, better known as DJ Shimza, has been moving to greater heights in his industry and has taken his record label Kunye imprint to the global market, starting with an international debut in London. The brand was officially launched in 2020 but didn’t manage to get the much-needed traction it required, mainly because of the lockdown and travel restrictions that were put in place in most countries early in 2020. Dj Shimza had no option other than resorting to live performances on Instagram. We got used to these online concerts just like having work Zoom meetings is now a norm.
Kunye’s event was held at Hackney Wick’s Studio 9294 on the 8th of April and received a host of praise. Reports state that tickets sold out 15 minutes after going on sale. In attendance was a mix of South Africans and other Africans in the diaspora and different nationalities worldwide, showing how good music cut across any barriers. The headlining acts were Desiree and Darque, who made sure it was a night to remember.
In a recent interview after the event, the vinyl assassin (DJ Shimza) expressed his happiness about its success. He said it showcased that the label is doing precisely what it set out to do, which is groom and grow young local creatives and take them on to the international stage. Kunye means “Together as One,” and in that spirit, the brand was established to be a platform for established and new artists alike to the international markets while also shining a light on the South African musical market and its various unique sounds. The label has grown a following in the afro-house/afro tech space by dishing out great official remixes that have allowed the brand to connect to international acts like Louie Vega and Melé, to mention a few.
DJ Shimza is also known for his charitable endeavors, such as the ‘ Legendary One man Show’ events which also bring a host of South African acts to perform on Christmas days, with all the proceeds going to charity. Even though his desire is to raise South Africa’s music space through his charity and events, Shimza still has his own fair share of critics.
He notably received some criticism when DJ Maphorisa, one of the iconic kings of Amapiano. DJ Maphorisa asked why Shimza is always alone on many of his big projects with no upcoming talent. He also alluded that growing young talent is the only way to grow the industry and lead the way for others to shine. “Why you always make music alone?” Shimza responded by talking about Kunye and his drive for it. However, DJ Maphorisa (Phori) followed up by accusing Shimza of hiring ghost producers and paying them a once-off fee instead of crediting them and allowing them access to royalties, which seems to be rampant in the music industry. The reactions and responses in the comments section illustrated that there were a considerable number of people eager for Shimza to use his platform to boost upcoming artists to the international stage. So it’s good to see his label growing and taking other South African acts to the world as it’s intended to do.
Word to the wise
For upcoming artists who are looking to grow their brand and make a name for themselves in the industry, we recommend using platforms where the masses have access. You may not immediately make it onto Kunye’s radar, but distributing through a channel like Pick n Pay will spread your music countrywide.
“Musicians that select Pick n Pay to release their music benefit from our extensive consumer reach, as we have over 750 outlets across the country,” Malcolm Mycroft, MD, PnP supermarkets, explained.
“Furthermore, suppliers – musicians and others – profit from marketing and promotional efforts like run-of-press commercials, in-store plasma TV promos, special promotions, appearing on our sponsored TV programs, and on our Pick n Pay online platform,” he continued. Of course, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon etc, should also be on your list of platforms to distribute your music.