Thirty minutes late for her Hippy innerview, psshh! and I’m not even phased. When I saw that champagne coloured car parked and a tall beautiful woman stepped out in 6 inch heels, runway walk through the streets of Braam headed straight towards me, I was like “ Hahaha *Denzel voice* This is why I love my job!!”.
Slender model body in charcoal skinny pants, with her gold cuban Link neck piece tucked under her animal print top, this lady looked like a vision from a dream, a pleasant dream at that.
Sphumlile Radebe commonly known as Sphum is an R&B artist born and raised in Pietermaritzburg but now resides in Joburg, and has been in the city for a while now. Sphum broke into the scene through the work she did with all-round producer Bongani Fassie, and back then she went by the name ‘Lile’. I asked her about the name change, she had this to say “ There is a lot of short names that sound like mine, Leela, Lira etc. So I just thought I needed to have my own name, and not many people have it”. Since then, Sphum has showered us with great music and her last single ‘Push’ which was produced by Bongani Fassie caused major buzz on TV and radio, we went on to speak about their relationship and if more work would come out of their collaboration.
“Bongani really opened my eyes on how music should be created, and the freedom in creating music. Even with the song writing skills too, he helped me mold mine”, said the beauty, she goes on to mention, “We actually have another single which we worked on together, so definitely him and I will be working in the future”.
Sphum is an artist that does not want to be boxed or limited in the music scene. “How I make music is not really to decide the sound I’m looking for, it’s to work with people and see what we can come up with” She states. With that said, the conversation led to her new single ‘Ride’ which features man of the moment Da L.E.S. The single has already gained momentum, and has received a lot of radio airplay throughout the country, “Les is actually very hilarious and we click very well. We’ve been friends since 2003/2004 but only started doing music together around 2005”, she goes on to say, “ When I brought the track to him he trusted me, he said so himself that this song would turn into a banger. He recorded his verse and I went to work on it because I’m hands on when it comes to my music”. Sphum’s dedication to her music and how she composes it shows when you listen to some of her material, her songwriting is amazing which makes her vocals come off beautifully when listening to her songs.
While the coffee machine at Double Shot makes a noise right behind us, we pause for a second………. As I write my notes and my photographer works his magic.
We get back to our chat and talk about how R&B and Afro-pop in SA actually have a link, as well as how it makes it hard for R&B to stand its ground and grow.
“I think its awesome that afro-pop is assimilating R&B, that’s what needs to happen, it’s a natural progression”, she adds, “But I do think there is space for R&B to be R&B, there is space for it to live on its own and open a platform for it grow”, which is true, Sphum is one example of how R&B can do all the things she has mentioned. R&B is a genre that needs to be nurtured, more attention needs to be paid to it so that it grows and more artists can emerge from this genre.
A lot of female vocalists have chosen to jump on house beats more than R&B, we discussed what the reason for that may be. “I can’t speak for anyone, but in my case I’ve had a few people say ‘why don’t you do house?’’, she rolls her eyes and grins for a second and goes on to state, “ House is awesome, I enjoy house and on my album I’ll have a house track, BUT, I’m an R&B artist and I have to pay my dues and stay true to the genre”.
Sphum was previously signed to Universal Music but left without dropping any music with the label. We spoke about why she left and she had this to say, “Universal asked me to do house, and I told them that there are so many female house vocalists, why do I want to blend in? Why blend in when I can do what I want and still stand out”, she continues, “They didn’t see the vision, and that’s what happens, when people don’t see your vision, they usually give up on R&B and I refuse to give up on the genre”.
We close of our chat with a little information she shares about the video for her single ‘Ride’ which is in its final edits. The video has been ready for a while, but since she is such a perfectionist, she just has to put in her final touches before its released. Sphum is a very hands-on artist when it comes to her craft and her constant need for perfection towards it reveals itself through her music, she’s not the average artist, and her journey to success is looking pretty smooth thus far. I have high expectations of this artist and the work she will put out, R&B just gave birth to another phenomenal artist.
That’s it folks, Boom!! Another Black Hippy Innerview!
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photography by @Ric3hard