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Hard look at Black Coffee’s meticulous journey to global domination; from the bittersweet BET award to historic MSG gig

South African house music extraordinaire DJ Black Coffee (born Nkosinathi Maphumulo) gives us a sneak peak into his meticulous journey to global domination; from his bittersweet 2016 BET win to unflinchingly fighting to afford the South African house music the recognition it deserves, to now being among a select breed of international DJs to play and sellout the Garden (Madison Square Garden).

Grammy winner DJ Black Coffee‘s battle for global recognition in the shadow of the worldwide dominance of Hollywood was the focal point of the recent Castle Lite sendoff presser in Johannesburg (Altitude Beach, Fourways), facilitated by actor Lawrence Maleka. 

In this article, we bring you the main snippets which tickled our fancy as the Umlazi-born Grammy award-winning DJ candidly fielded questions, letting us in on his meticulous journey to global domination; from his bittersweet 2026 BET win (Best International African Act), to his continuous fight to ensure the South African house music is afforded the recognition it deserves, and better yet to now being the first African DJ to not only play at some of the world’s biggest and most famous dance music stages, but being among a select group of international entertainers to sell-out the iconic Madison Square Garden, the new status symbol for the world’s biggest DJs.

Accompanied by talented fellow countrymen and women, among them Bucie, Msaki, Shoba, Mondli Ngcobo, Pansula & Ribatone, Major League DJs and a 12-piece orchestra, the ‘Superman‘ hitmaker will on Saturday (October 7) take the stage at the Madison Square Garden main arena to the cheers of more than 20, 000 fans. 

True to form, the official send-off party leading up to the highly-anticipated sold-out New York performance was nothing short of phenomenal.

Royal send-off: Castle Lite hosted in Johannesburg, an official send-off party for Black Coffee’s much anticipated sold-out performance at the Madison Square Garden in New York performance on Saturday, October 7.

Q&A: Long, hard look at Black Coffee’s meticulous journey to global domination

Q&A highlights from DJ Black Coffee-Castle Lite MSG sendoff media briefing, hosted by actor Lawrence Maleka.

Playing at the Madison Square Garden is no small feat. What does this moment represents for you?

Black Coffee: I’ve just always felt that this music (South African house music) deserves to be on the biggest platforms possible. I remember doing an interview back in the days in New York and one journalist asked me, ‘what are you trying to do?’ and to explain it in simpler way I said, ‘imagine ‘Superman’, which is sung by Bucie being sung by Beyonce, without changing anything’ – the genre deserves that. It deserves the worldclass stars to recognise it and be featured. And what’s crazy about that song I made an example of, is that few years later Drake picked the same song up, and it was basically late, because I was saying I want the biggest artists on earth to take the same song without watering it down. Re-sing and re-release it, and you know it happened fast forward to other great things that came afterwards. So it’s been my mission to take this genre, expose it to the biggest following, to people who didn’t know of the genre, especially the kind of genre that I play, which is mostly from home. So getting to as far as the Madison Square Garden was a plan, it was a plan to eventually get there.

Just to explain it simply, there’s a venue in New York called Brooklyn Mirage. So we did our first year, I think it was a Friday … we did a show. From the beginning the plan was that if we sell out the first show, we were gonna do two more shows. If we sell out two more, we were gonna do three more, and if we sellout three more, we were gonna go to Madison Square Garden. That was a plan from the beginning, so we got the first one, we sold it out, we did the second one, we sold it, and we did the third. We even went as far as pushing the ticket prices up for that one show so that it’s closer to the Garden tickets. This was to test the market and see if they’re ready to pay more for that kind of venue before we can go there and drown.

So we did a third show, and we also sold it out, and we felt like we were ready to do the Madison Square Garden. The dream has always been ‘how do I elevate what we do to a global level, to be recognised to as far as the Grammys without being watered down into … ‘lets call it Afro-house’, or say ‘world music afro what what you know’. I had a big problem with that…being from this continent shouldn’t mean I should be given a genre. There’s been so many stars that came out of the United Kingdom, there’s no genre made for them. Like Sam Smith gets nominated with the rest of the people … he’s not called ‘British something’. But if you come from this continent, they try to accommodate you, and create categories that are gonna accommodate you so you can compete against each other, but not with the world.

Even that has been my fight after winning the BET award. Like you win the award, get invited to the show and it we were very excited, thinking ‘yohhh, this is big’. So we went to the show, we were told there’s a Friday one, and there’s a Saturday show. Thinking ‘this is such a big platform man, I’m like ‘I might see BeyoncĂ©’ and we get there and I’m like ‘man it’s all us … you know, the African people’. And that’s it, we were not even invited on the main show.

So you win that award with a bitter taste in your mouth because it is the BET, and you want to be able to say ‘I’ve got a global award but it’s not, because there’s a genre that’s created for you’. So for me that’s been my fight … without fighting. You just work, just recognising all the artists that I work with, that have been with us, and I feel like they understand the journey. It’s about collaborating with the right people, and then we just keep pushing forward, hence we’re going to the Madison Square Garden basically.

The Umlazi-born Grammy award-winning DJ shared an Instagram picture of an orchestra sharing the stage with him in one of the rehearsals for his historic, upcoming Madison Square Garden sold-out performance.

How did you pick the artists that you’ll be performing with at the Garden?

The picking happened a long time ago – by working with the artist that I work with. The vision has always been bigger. So you kind of look at who would understand the vision better. You know when we work on the music, and one song takes like six months to finish, you have to look at ‘who will understand this?’ Who will go with the flow and be part of that dream. I would say that’s when the picking happened. When we do a show, I just have to look at the people I’ve worked with, how do I start the show, what would the best first song, how’s the flow of the show…not who’s the first artist or ‘I want this one, I don’t want that one’. It’s always about the music…how do we represent this music on the highest level. Hence the people that I’m going with. It’s the people that I’ve worked with, are highly talented, and I know that they will excel.

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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