Knowing who you are: ZuluMecca

Story by Roo

Visuals courtesy of [STAY LOW]

We chat to ZuluMecca about her latest EP ‘FABLE.’ and joining [STAY LOW]: “I expect to make music that will last forever, with a team that’s invested in the art and will let me be my authentic self.”

Man… ZuluMecca. Arguably one of the sharpest lyricists we have in the game right now. Whether you’ve known about her or not (from those Klutch Kollective days to her current reintroduction), fact still remains, ZuluMecca’s presence is one that will always be felt, especially behind a mic.

Real name Mandisa Nduna, ZuluMecca’s artistry is one that we believe is developed upon concepts of ascension. Sure, we loosely use the term ‘concepts’ here, but the truth is, it is a reality… Through our ears and eyes, we’ve also been convinced that the narratives her music explores, seem to involve insights that focus on healing, spirituality and dare we say, self-discovery from a surface-level point of view.

Though, because there are deeper notions, she narrates through song that will need you to sit-on a bit as a means of understanding… With that said, it was recently announced that the rapper has joined the [STAY LOW] family, and that announcement was soon followed up with a surprise new EP called FABLE. This has brought us to this point where we ask the ‘Good Gods Freestyle’ creator some questions about the EP, [STAY LOW], her ambitions, what the future is looking like right now and other thought-provoking things.

So, FABLE. comes as a pleasant surprise, celebrating you signing to [STAY LOW]. Did the label conversations start around the time you and Priddy Ugly made ‘Let Me Out?’

The work actually started in December 2020. The label reached out for a campaign and at the time I thought it would be a one-time thing. But the conversations continued, so by the time ‘Let Me Out’ was recorded, we knew where the relationship was headed.

As an artist who’s been burned before and chooses to be patient with who to sign to, what do you expect from this venture?

I have a great feeling. I’m sensitive to energy, so if it’d felt off in any way, I would have hesitated. I expect to make music that will last forever, with a team that’s invested in the art and will let me be my authentic self.

And what informed the transition of your depth, from being esoteric to being accessible? Do you feel it compromised your pen?

The balance between my authenticity and mainstream appeal is something I consider every time I create. I’ll never compromise my pen, it’s more so a simplification of my lyrics. For me, it’s less about hard bars and more about connecting with people.

Given that the first impression of FABLE. is that it’s your most relatable offering to date, is the key to digesting your music found in the effective use of parable themes and vinegar (depth), coated with some sugar (mainstream aesthetic)?

Sugar-coating isn’t a bad thing. I know my purpose and I have a lot to say, but you have to spoon-feed people. Give them good music. Get their hearts. Sometimes complicated bars and metaphors don’t achieve that. I never want to alienate people in the name of being the hardest rapper out. My art, art in general, is for everyone.

As a person who’s fundamentally spiritual, ‘Do You Get Bitches?’ presents an interesting crossroad. Do you find it odd or unfair that people expect you to have this detached attitude towards material wealth?

The reason I wrote ‘Do You Get Bitches’ was almost as a disclaimer. I don’t want to be boxed. I know my strengths, but I’m an artist and I will need to explore and challenge myself. Whatever form that takes. And that song is almost a self-drag. Questions I ask myself all the time. I can absolutely do the spiritual work that I do and indulge (and express) the carnal and material aspects of life as well.

Is your ambition for success nuanced by hunger (eluding poverty) or desire (ego acquisition)?

Both. God and my guides want me to have money. Lots of it. I honour Them by seeking abundance.

‘Head over Healing’ is such a clinical, fear-based parable.

What are some of the ingredients, in the concoction of a toxic relationship, have you or someone you know experienced, that inspired the song?

‘Head over Healing’ isn’t a reflection of my current approach towards healing (thankfully). A combination of low self-value and actively seeking out the thrill of chaos, had me in that position. I’ve done a lot of work over the years and healing isn’t linear, but I’m glad I have my priorities in order now. [I’m] no longer picking head over healing. Now we do both.

There’s a common denominator that MCs have with the church, the beef with the pastor. What would make the ideal spiritual leader for institutions like churches? Should they already be wealthy and in no need for tithes?

To be honest, I don’t like to judge institutions especially if I no longer subscribe. The thoughts I express in ‘Starving’ are from a long time ago. I have my issues, but it’s not my place as a person to impose my opinions based on my hurt (and God-wound?). As an artist, I paint a picture and walk away.

The overarching theme of FABLE. seems to be an existential, long-standing war with lust, a craving for wealth, love and spiritual authenticity. My chat is, we can have all three if we let them form an organic process, why do we rush the said process?

Because it doesn’t feel good to not know who you are. Trying to navigate between faith and flesh is incredibly taxing. Most people would much rather pick one. It’s easier… I’ve done that. It’s easier…

To end this off, what can we expect from ZuluMecca in the near future?

Honesty and good music.

Stream FABLE. by ZuluMecca on Spotify and Apple Music and other platforms.

This interview first appeared on issue 19 of the HYPE ezine. 

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