Big Zulu is a renowned rapper from the Zulu ethnic group of South Africa. He is not just making hip hop music that resonates with the trending vibes; he stands out for enmeshing his rhymes in Zulu Lore. The 36 year old KZN-born star is setting the pace in the Maskandi genre and has worked further to add the title of actor to his portfolio. Interestingly, music was not the first career path he ventured into, but he later found his way to the place where his talent could touch lives.
Big Zulu’s Real Name Is Siyabonga Nene
Most people know him as Big Zulu as a result of the stage name he chose for his music career but the maskandi icon was born Siyabonga Nene. His birth details have been obtained as 7 April 1987, making him 36 years old. His place of birth is in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal. The identity of Zulu’s parents has not been revealed but it appears he wasn’t born into a wealthy home as he struggled to get by in his early years.
Growing up in his place of birth, Big Zulu was greatly influenced by music icons, some of the best to ever come out from South Africa. He listened to Maskandi and Isichanthamiya music as a growing child and they played a part in the career and genre he eventually chose. Some of the biggest musical influences he had include Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Phuzekemisi, and Imithende. Regardless, he didn’t start the journey to fame on time as he had to find something that would yield fast money to help him survive.
He Worked In The Taxi Industry For Many Years Before His Rap Career Took Off
Looking at all he has achieved in his career thus far, it is safe to say that the journey to fame started from childhood for the 35-year-old but this is somewhat far from the truth. Instead of exploring his talents as a musician, Big Zulu worked as a taxi driver for many years. It has been claimed that the reason he went into the taxi business is that he performed poorly in school, thus, he had to do something meaningful with his life.
The years he spent at the taxi rank was not in vain as he learned a lot from the feuds and gangs that are inherent in the transport industry. He also coined his Inkabi rap style from his experience at the taxi rank. This means that while he was driving his taxi and making a living, Big Zulu was also working on something big and he didn’t hesitate to leave the rank in 2008 to pursue his music career.
The Spotlight Found Him After The Release of His Single Donsa Nkabi in 2016
Big Zulu’s lyrics are usually in isiZulu but the popularity he now enjoys goes beyond the ethnic group. Though he quit his taxi driver job in 2008 to focus on his music, it took him many years to get his breakthrough. He commenced writing his own music in 2009, performing them at any slightest opportunity. As a newbie in the industry, things were slow at first but in 2013, he scooped the winning title at the rap contest organized Back to the City. The win earned him the crown of King of Rap but this only got the attention of the people that matter, promising bigger things to come.
Ntokozo Sithole noticed Big Zulu’s talent in 2015 and soon, he signed his first deal with Universal Music Records. This came after several years of trying to figure things out as an independent artist. Under the stable of Universal Music, Big Zulu released his first album in 2018 and as expected, the name came in isiZulu as Ushun Wenkabi. The album has singles like “Ang’mazi umama”, “Home”,”Vuma dlozi” and “Ama Million. The project did very well and got the platinum certification.
A second album came in 2019 with the title Ungqongqoshe Woongqongqoshe. At this time, the industry couldn’t help but applaud his efforts, thus, collaborations from artists like FiFi Cooper, Casper, and Kwesta didn’t come as a surprise. The album did not just get certified gold by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA), it also earned Big Zulu several award nominations from prestigious bodies. His latest album is Ichwane Lenyoka which dropped on September 3, 2021, to the delight of fans. A teaser in the form of the single “Umuzi eSandton” preceded the album and made waves on music charts.
Big Zulu’s Albums
- Ushun Wenkabi (2018)
- Ungqongqoshe Woongqongqoshe (2019)
- Ichwane Lenyoka (2021)
Some of His Notable Singles
- Ang’Mazi Umama
- Vuma dlozi
- Big Zulu Ama Million
- Billion ( Ama million remix)
- Lomhlaba Unzima
- Nkabi Nesgubhu
- Ushun Wenkabi
- Ubuhle Bakho
- Wena Wedwa
- Umuzi eSandton
A Look at Big Zulu’s Career As An Actor
Mzansi is not just enjoying the talented Big Zulu in the music industry, they also get to watch him on TV. The Maskandi icon has appeared in some of the soap operas that dominate the South African television industry. Isithembiso, Isibaya, and Uzalo have had the music star grace their sets in recent times.
Though he hasn’t said it, the acting venture seems to have come to stay but this doesn’t take away his attention from his music. He is still working hard to keep the ball rolling in the music industry. Besides, considering how the fame he acquired from the music industry attracted the acting job, Big Zulu is not ready to drop the mic yet.
He is Also An Entrepreneur Through His Record Label
Apparently, his last two albums were released under his own label which he established in 2019. Big Zulu only worked with Universal Music Records for a few years before he launched his own label named Inkabi Records.
Inkabi may still be in its budding stage but it has already signed artists like Mduduzi Ncube. More is expected from the stable in the future as Big Zulu seems ready to thrive in the competitive industry as one of the artists to have successfully launched his own record label.