After years of a stagnant music career, Mnelisi Dlamini, better known as Nokzen is finally here to revive the Gqom music scene. Nokzen hails from Esantombe village in KwaZulu-Natal and recently released Umthwalo, a club banger under the company Bhinca Nation. The single features elegant African elements sprinkled with hypnotic drum beats dynamics. In the single, Nokzen worked with Fay who offered smooth vocals, Lindani Gumede added few elements and Sphe Nyide on live guitar. Umthwalo speaks about the everyday burdens that people carry with them. Nokzen , who comes from a very disadvantaged background, was bitten by the music bug in 2006. He started off DJing at house parties and school functions. This helped him to sharpen his decks skills and to raise money to feed his family.
“I come from a very poor background. The small gigs I got, helped me raise money to feed my parents and siblings. I will always give glory to God for giving me this talent because, without it, we would have wallowed in shame and poverty,” he says.
Nokzen’s first try at fame was when he was in Grade 11 when he wrote and produced an album called With My called Face-Off which ended up in music shelves around the country.
He says that was the greatest moment for his music career.
He got another breakthrough in 2010 when his friend Lusiman taught him how to make Gqom beats.
“We made Gqom beats together and sold CDs in Durban taxi ranks. In 2012 I met Lindani Gumede, who owned a studio in Durban and I worked with him for seven years. I spent most of my time there learning the ropes of music and the business of music itself. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. I am also indebted to a friend called Musa who is mostly known as Goodman who mentored me and shared a lot of information about the industry back in the days.”
NOKZEN has previously worked on the remix of Gazet by the legendary Mahlathini and Mahotela Queens, Gospel artist Sgwili and Mgarimbe.
He says his journey has not been a walk on the the park as he had to work hard in convincing his parents that music was his calling.
“It was very hard to convince my parents that I could make a living out of music. They were totally opposed to my career choice. I also struggled to convince people to listen to my music. Submitting my music to the radio station was another nightmare as I was unknown but I made sure that I pushed every day to fulfill my dreams.”
His advice to aspiring artists is never to give up on their dreams and never entertain the spirit of fear.
“Fear is the biggest barrier to many great things. If you are fearful you don’t have faith in God and in your abilities.” He also advises Gqom artists to respect the genre as art making Gqom music is not a child’s play.
Nokzen says he is already working on a full album that will be released early next year.