Hip Hop is the highest growing genre in South Africa right now. Very talented artists have emerged and through all that, there is always a force behind the growth of this genre. Independent record labels and event management companies have played a big role in this growth, and I had the chance to meet up with South Africa’s most formidable record company owner and events manager, Tebello Motsoane.
Tibz , as his friends would call him, signed and manages one of South Africa’s biggest artists (AKA) and also shares ownership of Johannesburg’s most popular nightclub (Sway).
Another beautiful morning in Joburg, my deputy editor/photographer and I make our way to the Matchboxology Offices in Parktown North. These are the same offices that gave birth to one of South Africa’s most prominent creative businessmen ‘Bradley’, who is also co-founder of Motif Records with Tumi. With that being said, you already have an idea of the relevance of Tibz, and how great his work is.
We get welcomed by his beautiful PA (Slindo), and she lets us know that Tibz will be in, in a few minutes. Without any time wasted he makes his way to the office, and we head straight to the boardroom and start with the interview.
I briefly ask him about his company Showlove and how it started. Tibz states “Back then there weren’t a lot of hip hop parties, it was mostly house and kwaito. The few that existed were like once or twice a month, but they were very backpacker/grungy. It wasn’t up market at all, so I decided to bridge the gap”.
Which is true. Tibz made hip hop in South Africa comfortable with the fact that it is okay to look good, smell good and go to a hip hop gig without worrying about anything but the entertainment. “I want to listen to the music I want, but I want to dress a certain way. Girls want to wear their little black dresses and they want to feel safe”.
He continues to say that “Basically, Showlove is a vehicle for brands to meet the youth. Whether it be music, videos, events, digital campaigns etc”.
Obviously, running such a successful business comes with challenges. I asked about some of the challenges faced when he took on managing AKA. Tibz said, “The entire thing is a challenge, even if you believe in supreme talent, it is hard to make people believe it. It is hard to do it constantly because sometimes you become a victim of your own success. One hit puts pressure on the next track”.
With that said, we carry on to talk about AKA’s alleged ego and arrogance and if he too has to cater for it, and he responds “I mean if I have to cater to AKA’s ego, he would have to cater to mine. It’s the business of people, you can’t please everybody”.
I agree too, not everybody will like or agree with how you do business, but you have to deliver your product regardless of what other people will think or say.
“I always say, you shouldn’t try make enemies but you can’t take everyone with you,” Tibz notes.
Still on the topic of him and AKA, we get into one of the most highly anticipated albums in SA hip-hop – AKA’s Levels LP which is due April 2014.
“Hot music, great shows and a few risks in terms of prototype. AKA listens to everything, so he is not afraid to be influenced by anything. Expect the expected and expect the unexpected”.
Tibz is a businessman and we also touched on other business ventures he has besides Showlove.
OTHER BUSINESS VENTURES
I’m a shareholder in a few things. I’m a shareholder in a clothing line called Head Honcho. I’m a shareholder in a community newspaper in Ekhuruleni called E-Touch. I also have another events company called Upscale Concepts, which does weddings, gala events and so forth. Then obviously there’s Sway”.
Speaking of Sway, which is a popular nightclub in the North of Joburg, we discussed the secret behind its success and its role on Sunday nights. “I’d like to think Sway runs the scene and not only Sundays. For me it is the business of entertainment as well, you have to understand the people”.
He goes on to state that “It is more about the people first than the artist, it then becomes a bridge between people and the artist”.
It is clear that Tibz always has the people’s best interest in mind when doing business. Which lead me into wondering what separates him from other event managers who are in the same field. “As an industry, especially in the hip hop market, we don’t treat this as an industry. I think that’s the difference between me and other guys”.
That is one problem I have also noticed through the years of growing up in the hip-hop era. Not everybody in the game sees this as a business, more like it’s always just a game. Once the perception changes, the hip-hop culture can grow into something bigger than what it is today.
“The biggest problem with hip-hop is that we bought into the ‘swag’ market. We haven’t bought into the business part of hip-hop”. Tibz goes on to say that “the AKA plan was never to go platinum. That is because we understood our market, rappers just want to be in clubs, want the girls and their drinks, then they’re happy”.
I actually giggled when he said that, because it is true and I see it happen all the time. These are some of the reasons our rookies lack consistency and never go on to become major artists with dominance in the game.
Talking about rookies, I asked about who he thought is next in line to become our next big thing – he silently took a break and said “Well, there are a lot of veterans who seem to have their second chance so to speak. Everybody is waiting on Maggz to drop an album, Chad Da Don, Casper is also going to be big. Kwesta? He is more of a veteran now, but I also feel like he has got a bit of a second wind. Boyz’n Buck also got their own movement going”.
To wrap up the interview, I asked him about his future plans and advice to upcoming guys who want to be in the same field and become just as successful. In terms of his businesses, “I want to be top of mind. That’s the most important thing. When kids want to buy gear, they should consider Head Honcho, or when SAB for example considers a budget I want Showlove to do the ground work” said Tibz. He closed off his statement by giving a little word of advice to young aspiring businesses that “The only thing that can save you while learning is continuously learning. And saving is important. Always save and invest back into your business”.
At a young age Tibz is already making major business moves, which clearly shows that he is destined for greatness. I wouldn’t be surprised if his name popped up in the African Forbes list one day. Respect this mogul now, or respect him later. But point is, give credit where it is due. The hip-hop game has changed and grown excessively and this is one man who has played a big role. In short, just ‘ShowTibzLove’.
Follow me on twitter: @Thy_Black_Hippy
Pictures by: @RofhiwaManeta