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Malawi’s Artist of The Year credits South Africa’s amapiano for his breakthrough

Malawi's Artist of The Year (2023) Zeze Kingston says he owes his breakthrough to the South African amapiano sound. He talks about being in studio with Makhadzi and Heavy K, as well as being the first Malawian entertainer to have and introduce a reality TV show right now.

A rising star from Malawi, who’s had a privilege of staying in South Africa – in and out between 2018 and 2022 – Zeze Kingston (real name Robert “Zeze Kingston” Ching’amba) credits South Africa’s groundbreaking amapiano sound for his breakthrough as the hottest music property in the Warm Heart of Africa right now.

“Basically here (South Africa) is where I found my sound,” he said addressing guests during a meeting and greet in Randburg, Johannesburg which formed part of his brief stay in the country to shoot his reality television show, shoot a music video and record music with SA artists, among them Makhadzi, Heavy K and PH Raw X.

“I say this over and over that amapiano changed my life, the sound alone changed ‘Zeze Kingston’ as an artist. I was making good music before, but it was because of amapiano’s energy, the lifestyle, which matched with mine, that I blew up the way that it did in my home country. It was easier to find a rhythm, and the right words to use in my language…So it worked and still now it’s working.”

In 2022, Zeze Kingston had my breakthrough in his home country Malawi shortly after arriving from South Africa in November. “So you can see that everything happened in a space of a year, because by last year (2023) November, I had already won Malawi’s best artist of the year award.”

Not only that, he also won all the awards he was nominated for; “So I am two-time best male artist of the year, I also won best live act of the year award, as well as the song of the year accolade. So these are the achievements from last year alone,” he said with proud chuckle.

On top of that, “I’m also the first Malawian entertainer have and introduce a reality TV show (The Kingstons) right now.”

Malawian musician Zeze Kingston during a recent (January 2024) greet and meet sit-down in Johannesburg.

Zeke Kingston: cross-cultural collaboration with SA/pan-African artists

On why cross-cultural collaboration with several South African artists – which will span myriad disciplines – is important, he says: “We are not only just trying to introduce our sound to a different audience, but to also connect … because I’m doing it in my language, and a different one, which mutually enables us to learn each other’s language and culture.”

He adds: “This is not just for Zeze Kingston, it’s for Malawi and every Malawian who’s all over the world to feel that there’s someone who’s trying to put Malawian culture and language out there.”

Collaboration with Makhadzi

“She is an African queen, and every artist I believe would want to work with her; she has good energy, she’s down to earth,” he says on working with Makhadzi on a track produced by Heavy K. “For me, that was magic. It flowed. We recorded the song in a few hours, and we really were in sync.”

On future possible collaborations, there’re several artists he would still like to work with. “There are a lot of people; Maphorisa, Kabza, Lady Du, and many others. I also want to go to Mozambique, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania and collaborate with other artists on the continent.”

Though Zeze Kingston’s music career dates back to over a decade ago, it wasn’t until 2023 that he became a household name in his birth country of Malawi, where he was named artist of the year at the annual Maso (Malawi Sound) Awards.

Zeke Kingston’s discography 

 Zeze kingston’s debut EP ‘African Melody‘ came out in 2019, it contains the hit song ‘Mvetsela‘ which has millions of views on TikTok.

His follow-up album ‘In My Zone‘ dropoed in 2022, followed by his latest 2023 eight-track EP For The Streets available now on major streaming platforms. The album features the hit single ‘Kusangalala‘, which he sampled during his recent Johannesburg visit. 

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