Haters aside, DJ Hlo rules the roost

Johannesburg- Crossing over into the new year with a song of the year has become a tradition to many South Africans – and last year was no exception.

The choice of which song gets the nod has become a polarizing act.

Last year saw many songs compete for the coveted honor, ranging from Zakes Bantwini’s Osama.

Adiwele by Young Stunna ft Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa also caused waves.

Asibe Happy by Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa ft Ami Faku was also a strong contender, a feel-good song that got people in a party mood.

Osama was largely seen as the hit of the year but fell short of being crowned as such.

Bantwini said Osama, featuring Kasango, may not have been the song of the year as many anticipated on New Year’s Eve, but it remains the biggest song of his career.

Bantwini said Osama was more of a spiritual experience that he felt needed to be shared.

“When you make a song like Osama and you have a certain feeling, which is a feeling that I had, when you get into your spiritual self or you are at the top of your spiritual realm, you speak in tongues. In most of the places, which are spiritually driven, which are churches, you would appreciate umfundisi [pastor] speaking in tongues. That’s what Osama is to me.

“There are so many songs that I’d thought would be big but never became big. But what I can say is that I did know Osama was a dope song. I didn’t know it would be the biggest song of my career.”

On a personal front, Bantwini, who is married to Nandi Madida, said the family is what kept him sane during the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. But he is also grateful that the industry for artists has again opened up so he can do what he does best – make people dance.

“I want to work as much as I can. I haven’t been working for two years because Covid closed us down. Last year, there were no gigs,” he said.

DJ Hlo, real name Hlosiwe Mthalane, got the nod for the Song of the Year award from the country’s biggest radio station, Ukhozi FM for her song Isibani – a decision that has sharply divided public opinion. Her song competed with Osama and Asibe Happy, among other tunes.

Mthalane described the announcement as overwhelming and unbelievable.

“I was with my family at the time of the announcement. We had an event at home. You can imagine the screams, excitement, and laughter – I cried throughout the song. I did not believe it at all,” she said.

But the 24-year-old DJ was disappointed at the backlash she received on social media where many people claimed not to know her or Isibani.

“This criticism motivates me to work even harder. I still feel that those who voted know me, people voted for different songs and they wanted those songs to win.

“It is understandable but those that voted are happy, they also made me happy.”

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