Muzi, aka the Zulu Skywalker, has been setting a standard for cool since his 2016 Boom Shaka debut. Blending urban electronic music with local genres such as Maskandi, Kwaito, and Isicathamiya, Muzi has created a fusion that’s inspired visions of space and echoes of heritage. Whether it’s the single off his latest project ZENO, “Phuma (Bad Self)”, that channels South Africa’s alté, or bubblegum pop inspired cuts like “Microwave Love”, Muzi isn’t afraid to dabble in the many forms of digital culture and imbue it with local flavor. This fearlessness both onstage and in the studio has earned him cosigns from some of music’s keenest ears including Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Stormzy, and Chris Martin with whom he collaborated on the remix of their 2019 “Orphans” single and on Muzi’s “Sondela Forever” which features Chris Martin on piano.
“Told you I’m a boss, you ignored that.
How’s that for a throwback ?”
Muzi’s latest single and music video, “Interblaktic”, is a culmination of the cool Muzi has been gathering. The Chicago house inspired beat follows Muzi through the Mars-esque landscape as he dances with the same energy of his headliner performances. Muzi’s verbal nonchalance, the funky stab of faraway pianos, the Zulu call and response (Angifuni, Hell no!), and of course the ping of what sounds like a stormtrooper blaster rifle, give the most concise vision of the Zulu Skywalker to date. If Muzi was looking for the jet fuel to launch him past the stratosphere and into deep space, he found it. It’s confident and head-banging. Proud and carefree. Muzi says it best in his refrain.
“Tell me what you really want to do
Picture perfect, I enjoy the view
Red lips, kinky hair, black skin, free as hell
Love it or move over”
MUZI’s film production entity, in partnership with former collaborator Espacio Dios (Good Vibes Only), Clout Killed The Kids, directed the video. VANS also stepped in as a fashion partner helping Muzi design the zebra patterned leather jacket that looks both classic and otherworldly. Word also dropped that the single was part of an album currently in the works.
“Mama left me with some extra sauce
Integrity intact, black skin, free man
Love it or move over”
We spoke with Muzi to dissect the track and accompanying music video, his afronowist sentiments, and global VANS collaboration.
How would you describe the sound on this track?
Production wise, I wanted to play around with Chicago house vibes. Having the piano stab in the chorus sort of reminded me of songs like “Move your body” (Marshall Jefferson, Solardo). Also, I wanted to keep it minimal, and bassline driven. The melody came through via the vocals + humming. I also sampled a song of mine “Boss Mode” from my album, Afrovision.
Vocally, I wanted to go for a similar tone to the vocal that’s at the end of “Boss Mode”. It was almost as if Muzi had taken a step back and this was more of a Zulu Skywalker track. I feel that I’m in my best shape yet, as a human being and the confidence is heard throughout this song. Me, being unapologetically myself.
There’s an afrofuturist vibe on here. Is that something you identify with?
I identify more with afronowism. Afrofuturism has a way of cancelling dope artists of African descent because it means we are only dope in the future. I think that we’ve always been great and are presently great too so afronowism is how I envision it.
What’s the idea behind the title “Interblaktic”?
It’s a merger of the words “black” and “intergalactic”. I’ve always had space-themed concepts in my music so this is just me continuing with that.
Where’d you shoot the Mars-like landscapes for the video? Anything else you can tell us about the shoot (fashion, collaborators, etc)?
We (Clout Killed The Kids) just wanted to go with a more-natural looking idea of Mars, especially after seeing that latest picture of Mars by NASA. So, we went to a mine dump in Johannesburg, South Africa and shot some parts there. Obviously wanting to still link it back to Earth, we have Earth tones and the dam/waterfall shots to pay homage to my clan’s element, water.
I got a Zulu Skywalker suit made with the help of VANS global and Bangy from DEAD. Using the leather to pay homage to my favourite era of music, the 70s and 80s and the zebra print to convey the regal nature of royal traditional Zulu attire.
Tell us about the link-up with Vans?
VANS are my favourite shoes and I’ve worked with the brand here in South Africa for a few years now. This time around though it’s with VANS Global and I’m super excited about being a global ambassador. It was a childhood dream of mine and to see it come to fruition is a blessing.
What’s up next? Anything to look forward to?
I’ll drop more singles leading up to the album release. Hopefully, I can drop them with music videos. We’re also planning on dropping merchandise and doing vinyl’s so I’m excited about that.