The African entertainment industry will forever be grateful to stakeholders in the likes of Emtee who have contributed significantly to its growth. The South African music artist’s distinguished career, although still relatively young, so far speaks for itself. Emtee is not just a hip-hop artist, but a rapper who has done a lot of collaborations with different acts across the African continent. He has also released a few albums, under his former label, Ambitiouz Entertainment.
Now under his label, Emtee Records, the Eastern Cape-born rapper and songwriter is set for an even bigger impact on the music scene. The rapper’s journey thus far has been an interesting one.
How Emtee Began a Life in Music
He was born Mthembeni Ndevu on September 15, 1992, in Matatiele, the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. He grew up in Rockville, Soweto, where his music inclination began. Emtee, who wanted to be a musician from first grade was a chorister at Barnata High School and led his school choir in songs during service. His first performance on stage was at the age of 9, during a Yeoville primary school talent show.
As a member of a Marimba band, he would participate in various provincial competitions and win the prize money for his school. He was aged 17 at the time, and soon developed a deeper interest in the music art and further shaped his aspirations in that direction.
It could have been his busy schedules or lesser attention to academics, but Emtee’s grades deteriorated as he developed his musical side. However, he still graduated from secondary school, but with a pass, which although ended his basic education, made it difficult for him to start his higher education in South Africa.
While many considered his grades and subsequent inability to secure a college education a disappointment, Emtee saw it as an opportunity to focus solely on his music aspirations. By doing so, he achieved his first collaboration with South African rapper, Maraza, in 2010. Their song, In It To Win It, was a hit and got them featured on the music channel, Channel O.
His Journey as a Professional Musician
After the mild success of In It To Win It, Emtee and two rappers, Sjava and Saudi formed the rap group, African Trap Movement. Aside from the three of them, the group also had the producer, Ruff. Through auditions and their sheer talent, they got signed to a record label, Ambitiouz Entertainment.
Between 2010 and 2015, African Trap Movement had a minimal footprint on the South Africa music scene. This eventually forced Emtee to pursue a solo career, all while still signed to Ambitiouz. In the early parts of 2015, he released his debut as a solo artist, Roll Up, produced by his friend, Ruff. The track made waves on media platforms, pushing the young artist into the limelight.
Roll Up became not only a hit but also attracted international stars including Nigeria’s Wizkid. A re-release of his single, titled, Roll Up -Re-Up, followed immediately and featured South African rapper AKA and Wizkid.
Beyond the popularity and career breakthrough, the song earned him some accolades. Emtee bagged his first award for the Song Of The Year at the 2015 South African Hip Hop Awards, crowning a journey that began since he was a child.
He released his debut album, Avery, in 2015. Emtee exceeded expectations with his album and quickly became one of the most played South African hip-hop artists that year. The album earned five nominations at the South African Music Awards, including Rap Album of The Year.
Emtee Left Ambitiouz Entertainment Because of Money Issues
Having been the platform that gave Emtee his taste of success and made him a household name, the conventional expectation was that the SA rapper would spend years with the record label. After his debut album, he released two additional albums, Manando and DIY 2, in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Unfortunately, his love story with Ambitiouz Entertainment would not last. In August 2019, he announced he was leaving the label. His official statement gave little insight into the cause of his departure, but subsequent details revealed that it was money-related.
According to details that are now available publicly thanks to their court battle, Emtee never received royalties for his first album, Avery, from the label. Instead, he was on a monthly salary like a typical employee. As of March 2020, the case is still in court, with the outcome yet unknown.
In proceeding with his career, Emtee founded the record label, Emtee Records in September 2019. He established the label under the company, African Trap Movement. His debut project under his new label is scheduled for release in 2020. The album, DIY 3, will be a follow-up album to his third album, DIY 2.
However, while the world still awaits his album under Emtee Records, he has released a few singles. The singles Brand New Day and Wave debuted in early 2020. He released his third single, Johustleburg, under Emtee Records, in May 2020. The track, which is already enjoying massive airplay, is an ode to his home city, Johannesburg.
A Look at Emtee’s Love Life
Fans of Emtee are well aware that he is in a romantic relationship with Nicole Kendall Chinsamy. The two of them have been together before he became a national and African star, although details about the exact timeline remain elusive.
The young couple lives together as a family, along with their two children. Emtee and Nicole welcomed their first child, Avery, a son, in 2015. Their second child, Logan, another son, was born in January 2018. The rapper named his first album after his firstborn.
The Couple Have Dealt with Their Share of Controversies
Typical among celebrities and public personalities, Emtee and his girlfriend, Nicole, have had to deal with their share of drama. The first came when he revealed in 2018 that his girlfriend was born in 1996 (that is 22 years old at the time).
Fans of the artist and music enthusiasts disputed the claim, suggesting his girlfriend looked older than the reported age. As with most flimsy controversies, it died a natural death.
Also, in 2017, Emtee was the subject of a social media faux pas. In October, he accidentally exposed his genitals during a session on Instagram Live. The incident sparked a national and mass ridicule, and just like the age debacle, it eventually subsided.