Kamo Mphela’s 4-track debut project, Twentee, was released just one year ago, yet, the young artist is already a true celebrity. Driven by an extraordinary energy and an ambition not limited to music, she has been signing her country’s latest and biggest hits, from the now classic “Amanikiniki” to the hugely successful “SBWL”. She has shined brightly on features, but now it’s time for her to develop her own craft. In comes the Nkulunkulu EP, and Kamo is more focused than ever. “Nkulunkulu is basically a prayer to God”, she tells PAM while preparing herself for an event, and a flight to Lagos. “That’s the reason why it’s so different from all my featured songs. I just got into the studio and started saying what I would want from God. I’m asking him for money, I’m asking him for success, I’m asking him to protect me from the devil. It’s not necessarily the hardcore Kamo Mphela that people know because I’m trying to introduce my own brand.”. Nonetheless, the hardcore fans will also find something to love on the new project. What about the other 3 songs? “The other songs are just vibes! Vibes for people of the streets, for girls who just want to dance… and not pray”, she smiles maliciously.
Vibes, energy, dance, are all central components to Kamo’s music aka amapiano, the latest avatar of the hyper creative South African house scene. The genre has been sending artists to perform everywhere on the continent, but that is not enough for the singer, who doesn’t take the “Amapiano Queen” title as a compliment. “When they say amapiano queen, they are putting me in one box”, she explains. “But I like dance music and that’s my whole thing, so I want to be able to do afrobeats, to do any dance music that anybody resonates. Even in South Africa: Kwaito, Gqom… I can do anything”. Beware, music is not the only thing Kamo wants to take over. “I think I’m an entertainer. I don’t want to use a lot of tags defining who I am. I just want to do everything that’s around me, my career, my brand”, she tells us. This includes music, but also acting (she was featured in the Netflix series How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding), social media (she recently hit 1 million followers) and obviously dance, the first domain that truly revealed her to her nation via viral street videos. In a country known worldwide for its incredibly rich dances, asits music, the young artist managed to differentiate herself. “I don’t know how man… I just think it was my time!”, she laughs. “There are really dope dancers here, but I think the choices that I made helped me blow up, like pushing everything on my end with the viral videos for example. And then, I just decided I could dance to my own music!”.
Kamo Mphela’s success has been extremely rapid, and probably intense for a 21-year-old artist. Super rapid growth always bears the risk of a super rapid fall, but the singer has a plan for herself and the whole amapiano movement. “I just think people in the genre should stand together and just push the sound as a collective, apart from wanting to push it alone. Certain people just want their egos to be flattered rather than pushing the whole thing. Imagine if every amapiano artist would go to Kenya to do a show! That’s more powerful than anything”. She has applied this principle to Nkulunkulu where, on 4 tracks, we find the likes of Vigro Deep, MFR Souls, Reece Madlisa, Zuma, and other top-producers from the country. “100 shooters” sounds like a club anthem, “Percy Tau” sees the singer deliver smooth and confident bars and “Mamazala” fuses influences from the biggest South African street genres of the past few years. It is about to be a big party in South Africa – and Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania or Zambia, where the piano vibes are rapidly exporting themselves.
Nkulunkulu available on all platforms.