Where MXO’s musical journey started
02 September 2015
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Welcome to Old Mutual Live Radio. My name is Aphiwe Monono and this week we are speaking to Mxolisi Lokwe. Who was born and raised in Port Elizabeth who took a train in 1998 to the City of Gold to pursue his music career and he’s never looked back since. MXO, thank you so much for joining us and welcome to Old Mutual Radio.
Mxolisi Lokwe: Hey man, thanks for having me. How are you doing?
AU: I’m well thank you. So this is the first time I actually sit down and have a conversation with you and I’m looking forward to it because I just know the MXO that broke out with the Sistero Ganjala Pho and all the girls went crazy. So we’re going to take a deeper look into the man behind the music today. Are you ready for that?
MXO: Yeah man, there hit me.
AU: Okay, so let’s start with your upbringing. You are from Port Elizabeth, Kwadwesi. Is that how it’s called, Kwadwesi?
MXO: Kwadwesi, yes.
AU: Tell me about that. What was your upbringing like, you know and probably where your passion for the music started. But take us on a journey on who MXO was and the youngster and the teenager and who eventually became the adult that he is today.
How MXO earned his strips
MXO: Yeah, I was born and raised in the city of PE, Port Elizabeth in a township, Zwide. Zwide is one of those areas you know that were designed for black people, Group Areas Act so we were all sent, actually not me, I mean not in my parents sent so basically it’s what they call a township.
I grew up as a normal kid, you know in a township setup with us as young boys being playful and naughty. All those intricacies of being part of the young and in a township and from then, for sure the music was part of our atmosphere, our background.
Especially on the weekends, families when they’re doing a spring clean and you’ll hear all these favourite records. The one person who really caught my, who my ears caught the wind of was Michael Jackson and yeah, I’m a 80s kid.
I remember the time when I used to see this guy as my idol and for sure I will, you know parents will buy us all the Michael Jackson merchandise with the music. We will have our hair curly and our thick jackets, our moccasins and me with the silver spoon in front of the mirror trying to look at myself, you know. Try and transport myself with the Michael Jackson’s music and having a vision around there and hey, it’s what I want to do and for sure.
I grew up and we moved location, so I went to the mall side of the area of the township where it’s a new development and the area was called Ethwesi. Then I went to a Roman Catholic school, Marymount in Uitenhage and then from there I met a friend, I met a brother called Mandla Makela.
He used to like some MWA and different kinds of music and he used to recite the lyrics and I was so caught up. From there I never looked back and he used to have a crew called Demolition Crew. Then from there I used to go to his house for a weekend and see how does he catch up with the lyrics and put them in his head and then ja, so yeah I think he really introduced me to music although I mean my surroundings, there was music. Around my sister was already a part of Ebony in Jo’burg. Her name is Dudi.
Music was all around me
MXO: So she was part of Ebony, so she will come on a holiday and bring records and bring all the swag from Jo’burg and she’s like on that Madonna Trip, you know Rebel. I think my eclectic and my hippy and my bohemian came from her indirectly.
So she’ll come on holidays and Ringo will come over to our place and I saw this thing like you know, the reality of it being in front of my eyes so and yeah, I mean I did my matric. Actually around that time I used to put together events because I mean you must understand now my background and my music influenced the council, all directions.
From Michael Jackson to other like to Bob Marley’s and friend of his my dad and he will play Peter Tosh so you can hear all those influences from jazz, reggae, rock and funk and Bon Jovi’s and you know some Eric Clapton. I guess that’s why my taste is authentic like that and the classic because of the people who are appearing.
Then from there I used to put then shows, events and yeah, I decided the other day I would, you know, let me go and follow my ambition. I take a train and I never looked back and we started on that on the there man, yeah.
AU: Soon after arriving in Johannesburg you started performing at nightclubs and various other gigs like in Hillbrow, Berea, Yeoville and Mellville. Now I assumed this would be around the time, I’m just, you correct me if I’m wrong. But when I read this about you, I imagined this would be around the time Boom Shaka was at its peak and you know South African music was just starting to take off.
Artists were starting to recognise or a better word would be find their place or their own. What was that experience like for you, like when you finally made it to the City of Gold and there you were performing in Yeoville and Hillbrow. Like the places were abuzz or a hive of activity, what did you come in here to say, “Okay, I’m here and I’m here to do my thing”. What was going through your head?
Arrived in Jo’burg at an interesting time
MXO: Round about then, you know, for sure I did my research. I buy books, source, so for sure there was a medium already available for us to read and study and be in that world. Although you’re far away from it so imagination kind of put us there already before we even arrived in Jo’burg.
So when I arrived in Joburg for sure the bars was like, you know, I mean Boom Shaka and the Scheme and everyone, I was already, like you know they were already bigger when I was still at home. So when I came here and arrived in the City of Yeoville, I see these guys in my own eyes as like you know, it kind of gave me a reason to believe who they are.
I can be the next thing, everything’s possible. If I can be here and you know, shake hands with this presence and they don’t shake like a stranger. So from then yes and I linked up with Sliq Angel around 2001. I wanted to meet around the time and that’s where we were jamming. There was another revolution brooding around that time. It was like poetry scene. It was just about to start. I think we came at the right time.
I came at the right time because Sliq was already in Jo’burg doing some works with Alpha and stuff so me, when I came around we met this other Rasta place called Ras Blue. Where the community, all the dreamers will meet and there Sliq was playing his guitar and you know, with my love for me that I couldn’t ignore.
So I went to jam with Sliq and you know from then we never looked back man. We formed the duo called Roots 2000.
We played in, then Simphiwe came to join in the group. We played guitar, so we played guitar for Simphiwe and then Phumi will come and join. So that was the revolution around that time in Doornfontein in a place called Tribal Connection. Where everyone is received these days as successful as they are when they’re coming from that era. That era was full of rebels, people who wanted to change the world and people who wanted to, for sure, you know YFM sort of so I’m calling it a Revolution because YFM was already starting up.