Entertainment / Celebs And Viral

Gosebo Mathope
3 minute read
27 Dec 2017
10:19 am

LISTEN: Robbie Malinga on music, HIV rumours and his regrets on not signing Nathi

Gosebo Mathope

In one of his last extensive radio interviews, Malinga spent almost an hour with DJ Fresh speaking widely about his passion for music and rumours which had plagued him when he fell ill this year.

Malinga wasn’t musically smitten with Kelly Khumalo at first and after Zahara performed for him, they spent a year refining her music so she can become her own Tracy Chapman.

In a wide-ranging interview with Thato Sikwane, popularly known as DJ Fresh, a few months after recovering from a health scare Robbie Malinga mentioned he would have liked to work with Nathi Mankayi.

“I regret not having signed Nathi. Nomvula is the only song that when I hear on radio..and I regret not having signed him. He is very humble,” he told Sikwane of the song from the album Buyelekhaya.

On rumours about his ill health, Malinga said people thought he was HIV positive but this was not true as he had anemia. Malinga died of the illness on Christmas day after spending months fighting the disease.

An upbeat sounding Malinga, stoked by Sikwane’s raucous laughter during the interview that took place in the early hours of the morning, disclosed that after 19 years he felt like o tsofetse [grown old] as he spent most of his career working in the studio the whole night and pitching his music to radio stations the next morning.

READ MORE: More tributes pour in for Malinga as SA mourns his death

“Born ko kasi [township] is a blessing gonale ntho tse baie [there were opportunities]. If you wanted to be a soccer star or a singer. It was tough during apartheid and I chose music. We were all involved in politics, I was once a member of Cosas and I was detained in matric when I was 18,” he explained.

“It has always been my dream to set trends not follow others. When we came with Loliwe things were bad and music was not selling. House music was banging and when you brought out Afro-Pop…and Loliwe sold out 400 000 units,” he continued.

Malinga admitted that he was not entirely convinced Kelly Khumalo was the right artist to record the duet “Sobabili” with, but was blown away when he started recording with her.

“Prosper  [Mkwaiwa] came to my studio and he wanted me to write something for Kelly. I wasn’t sure because of  Qinisela.

“She walked in and in one take, Sobabili was recorded. When she walked in I thought there goes my song. After she sang it I wanted to work with her. She is in all my albums except the latest one,” he said.

LISTEN: TK Nciza speaks about the impact Robbie Malinga had on his life

He shared with Sikwane that recording Loliwe with Zahara was an uphill battle, and that in her case he also was not smitten with her.

“TK [Nciza] called me in the middle of the night in East London and I told him I am sleeping. When she brought Zahara the next day she had chiskop. She played Thandaza Uyive Lengoma.

“We stayed one year working on this album because she had done Loliwe at home. I wasn’t hearing her voice and I heard Tracy Chapman. We included some elements of country music and reggae. When we took it to EMI Records they said this sounded like gospel.”

Nevertheless he said the record company gave them “a small budget” and they worked miracles by achieving gold status within two weeks. A month later they reached platinum status.

“A record company owner even said we are lying. He was told we are lying because we were sitting at 100 000 units. There was a long queue at shops when were promoting Zahara. I did the second album but I couldn’t do the third one because I was sick,” Malinga confessed.

Listen to the full interview below


Details: How Robbie Malinga passed away