He is a DJ, producer and entrepreneur. Rabs Vhafuwi, born Rabelani Madula, was born in a village outside Thohoyandou in Venda 32 years ago. Though he grew up in the village, he went on to study for a national diploma in Production Management at Vaal University of Technology. “I’ve been in the music industry since 2009 and full-time from 2012. My stage name is a combination of two name: Rabelani means Pray and Vhafuwi means chief in Venda.” With the shortening of his name to Rabs, his stage name was given to him by a friend in Bloemfontein where he was playing at the time. “I have to use Vhafuwi as I am a Venda. I needed an initial push to start producing music because I was struggling to get music to play,” says Rabs
In 2009, he was only a
DJ and started producing music in 2012. His first single, Funduzi, featured his mother. He was helped in terms of production by industry friends like Duck, Da Capo and Problem Child. “I was inspired by jazz music. I listen to legends like Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa and many more.”
Rabs has certainly proved the notion that where you are from does not determine where you will end up. Although he does not have an education in music, a passion and love for music is drives him. His first album did very well in the market, although it was not easy to get it released commercially. “I was struggling to get a distribution company. I was rejected by many record label and I was told my music is not good,” added Rabs.
Dino Michael is regarded as one of the forefront figures in the South African house music scene. Dino helped Rabs to release his first album under his record label Motherland Records. Rabs now owns his own record label: Freeze the Moment Productions. His smash hit Count Your Blessings, featuring Mizz, was a song winner on YFM’s Hot 99.
He has sound counsel for upcoming artists: “My advice to artists who are hustling to be signed by major record labels is not to jump at the first contract offer. They must always remember that record labels are in the business of making money through exploiting artists. They must seek professional help when offered contracts by companies. Artists get too excited and sign contracts that bind them. In this day and age, we should be doing our own thing. It is difficult to build a brand which can be accepted in an industry where there are so many people. Upcoming DJs and producers have to work very hard and need to understand that they have to sacrifice so that they can be taken seriously. Like when I started in 2009, I was DJing in a club from 6pm til 2am in the morning and I was only paid R300 though I was using my own sound. The DJ industry is very competitive; one has to up one’s game in order to make it in the music business,” he says.
In 2017, Rabs won the Limpopo Music Awards for the Best Dance Single and Best Cocktail Cruise Supporting Male DJ. But in the same year, Rabs shocked the nation and his fans by announcing that he was quitting music production to focus on mixtape, this after his second album failed to sell well. “Well, music is in me. It’s like a drug. I noticed I had disappointed a lot of my fans both locally and internationally. It’s clear that they love me even more now that just after a week of my album release I’m at number three. I was emotional at that time but I couldn’t let my talent just go to waste.”
His just-released third studio album is called 9 Provinces and has 15 tracks. It is doing very well in its first week and is already number three on Google Play Store.
This award-winning producer was selected by Phalaphala FM to play a 30- minute slot from 17:00 – 17:30 every Thursday for the whole of May as part of celebrating women month. You can get a new Rabs album online and is also available at the selected store.
You can follow Rabs on
Facebook DJ Jan
Instagram and twitter @rabsvhafuwi and
Cellphone 082 662 4145
E-mail address [email protected]