“Even amid the excellent run of the Yanos, you still want to be, somewhere somehow, in the discussions. As much as Amapiano, as a genre, is doing amazing things, it is not just a win for Amapiano; it is a win for the South African urban culture.”


Ntokozo Mdluli, aka K.O, is undoubtedly one of the most consistent artists in Mzansi. The award-winning K.O has no plans of slowing down as not even Covid 19 was able to hold him back. The Skhanda Gawd and his camp, SkhandaWorld, carried the game through the pandemic by being the stable that dropped the most projects when it came to hip hop in the past two years. From Massive sing-alongs like Lucky Star, K:HOVA, and a fire EP, called “Welcome to The Planet” from the entire SkhandaWorld. 

We caught up with K.O to learn more about his motivation and perspective on the Yanos wave.

Your record label has been consistently serving us good music during the pandemic; what was the motivation to keep dropping music even during tough times?

You are as good as your last hit in a business sense of things. We live in very fickle times, especially in the entertainment space. As soon as you are absent, people become oblivious. If you are a business-savvy person, you want to stay on top of people’s minds; you wish to remain in the conversation. Even amid the excellent run of the Yanos, you still want to be, somewhere somehow, in the discussions.

So, if we are going to relent and lie down while Amapiano is doing what they are doing, we might as well hang it up as far as the hip-hop conversation is concerned. I think it was merely coming from that place for us and for me leading the team in that direction. It has always been about passion than just trying to stay afloat. I feel some way if I go away for too long and people are not hearing anything from me. So, it would be best if you always made sure that there is something that you put out there so that you stay top of mind. 

We have been introduced to an exceptional fresh talent that joined SkhandaWorld. How do you identify talent that became part of SkhandaWorld?

 We are always on the prowl trying to find new acts and the next big thing; we are not genre-specific. I have always remained proud and comfortable enough to open doors for the next wave of individuals that I think will shape the culture. So, the guys that are now part of SkhandaWorld were probably nowhere as far as their careers are concerned, but life had its way of making us connect.

How we find them or connect with young talent is a mixture of referrals in our network and young cats making noise reaching our radar. Take Roiii, for example. We met him through his road manager, who has always recommended artists he came across to us. Roiii was probably like the 10th artist he referred to us, and we were fortunate to land ourselves on that type of talent, hailing from Pretoria. I think he is a gem; he is still young and has a great future. It’s all about the passion for growing the culture and trying to give back as much as we can.

You have a new single, Emoyeni. Tell us more about how it came about. 

I created the song mid-last year but chose to delay it because I felt like the energy needed less noise around it for the song to cut through the way it is supposed to.

When you listen to the aesthetics of the song, you can hear the Amapiano elements there. Once again, because of the business acumen that one naturally has—being in the game and knowing what is hot and happening. The song itself has elements of log drum and things of that nature because we are in tune with what is happening there. We are embracing the Yanos and still maintaining our authenticity. Also, with this mashup, we want to give birth to something refreshing.

Any chance of you jumping on an Amapiano track as a feature?

Indeed, I have always been versatile with my sound. I am open to invites from Amapiano producers to feature on a track. I have already jumped on a song with DJ Stokie, which he hasn’t released yet, and I am talking with a few renowned producers and artist. We will be cooking something up soon.

 I am currently working on my 4th solo studio album, Skhanda Republic 3, which will be dropping this year. The project will also feature some big names in the Yanos.

What’s your take on Amapiano and the impact that it has?

 What Amapiano is doing for Africa is remarkable, and I think we still have not seen half of it. What is unique about this genre is that it is more than just a genre; it’s a lifestyle. It is more than just the music element; it is the drip, the dance, and the lifestyle events that go with it. When something is imprinted in pop culture, nothing can stop it.

Hip-hop can learn a lot from the support culture of the Yanos community. First, there is an intimate and collaborative atmosphere where they put each other on without fear, understanding that there is enough pie for everyone.

When it comes to Hip-Hop vs the Yanos, what’s your take on the crossover debate?

We are in an era where, as an artist, you can’t lock yourself to one genre; you limit yourself as an artist when you do that. I have never been a slave to hip-hop but a slave to music and the craft. So, I feel creatives should not limit themselves. Some people will opt to go straight into creating an Amapiano song; some of us still feel like there is something we still need to salvage from Hip-Hop but are not oblivious to the Yanos wave. As much as Amapiano, as a genre, is doing amazing things, it is not just a win for Amapiano; it is a win for the South African urban culture.

Looking at Mr. Cashtime‘s work in just the past two years, it is evident that he has been making better choices for K.O as a brand and the SkhandaWorld camp. His business acumen, years of experience and the never back down attitude are surely set to make the Skhanda movement reach higher pinnacles.



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