“Black Coffee gave me a platform long before anyone else knew me…”
If ever there’s been an individual who embodies the latest hip-hop adage, “started from the bottom now we here,” it’s Ashley ‘Shimza’ Raphala. The young man from Thembisa has grown from strength to strength and is now undoubtedly one of the biggest blossoming forces in the South African urban house scene.
From winning The Next Big Thing to single handedly hosting The One Man Show – a massive outdoor party held on Christmas day in order to raise funds for the less fortunate kids in and around Thembisa – Shimza’s rise to fame has been paved with steady and equally astonishing accomplishments throughout the years. 2013 however saw a significant step up in Shimza’s game and business acumen.
Not only did he sign with one of the biggest names in house, Black Coffee and his Soulistic Music label, he also launched his own custom-made range of stick headphones. For anyone doubting Shimza’s abilities, these most recent achievements were clear indicators that he’s a man on a mission and that mission is to make a very big mark on the scene.
YTKO is easily one of YFMs most popular weekly slots but one day in particular stands out from the rest. Every Friday thousands of house music lovers flock to their radio sets to take in 30 minutes of undisturbed Shimza goodness. His 6pm mix on the youth station has reached cult status that is only shared by DJ Kent on 5FM and although Shimza’s talent can’t be disputed, the massive reception even shocks him when he thinks about it. He admits, “You can never predict such things. I didn’t even think I’d be on YFM one day!”
The Shimza stick headphone is a beauty to behold. Prior to him bringing them into the country the monophone design of DJ monitoring gear was something only reserved for the DJs with overseas connections who could ship it to our shores.
All that has since changed though with these readily available pieces of ear candy that retail at around R3 000. Although some may contest that the price is rather steep, Shimza argues that it’s all in the craftsmanship of the product. “The headphones are handmade in Greece and then still have to be shipped to SA. I’m not even making any money from this but it’s the knowledge that I’ve achieved something I wanted to do.” Anyway, R 3K or not the Shimza range of headphones has already become the weapon of choice for fellow DJs like Warras and Black Motion.
When news that he’d signed to Soulstic Music broke via a tweet from Black Coffee, urban house music lovers all agreed that it was the only logical step for Shimza to take and a wise one at that, but few knew that it’s a move that had been a long time coming.
“My signing to Soulstic was more of a formality to ensure that everyone was covered” he reveals. Then adds, “Black Coffee gave me a platform long before anyone else knew me. I was even one of the DJs who played during his breaks at the record-breaking 60 set in Soweto.”
And he certainly didn’t struggle feeling right at home in the close-knit music label. Much to my and many others’ dismay though, it seems we won’t be getting a Shimza album anytime soon as he explains, “That thing that’s in me that says ‘now you ready to release’ is not there yet. Even though I have a lot of tracks, I’m going to wait for that feeling to say ‘now’s the time’”. So as much as the world may be pushing for a Shimza album now, he’d much rather stick to his gut feeling and hey, it hasn’t disappointed him yet so we’ll trust him on that one.
With all these giant steps being made in his career it’s a wonder then what Shimza will do next, and truthfully he doesn’t know either. “I never plan. All my moves come naturally and when the time is right.”
But one thing that we do know for certain is that the young DJ from Thembisa always strives to better himself so from here, things will surely keep on moving forward!