The expansion of Uncle Partytime

This story appears in HYPE magazine #29, available here.

Uncle Partytime has some heat in the vault – he’s just taking his time with everything. “I’m not putting any pressure on myself,” he tells HYPE contributor Boitumelo Molamu in this in-depth interview about his career, releasing music and not limiting himself…

Written by: Boitumelo Molamu 

Between 2014 and 2016, we got introduced to South African hip-hop DJs working and releasing their music. This was an exciting time, as we got gems like ‘Mayo’ by DJ Speedsta, ‘Way Up’ by DJ Dimplez and ‘Now or Never’ by DJ Switch, among countless others. 

Since that era, it seems hip-hop DJs have taken a backseat when it comes to putting out their music. 

However, Uncle Partytime plans to change that. Partytime has been a renowned DJ for the past five years, consistently making it to the line-up of some of the most exciting events around the country and continent. 

In 2019, Uncle Partytime released his first single ‘Rough Patch’ with Una Rams. However, it would be a while until Uncle Partytime would release new music again. 

In February of 2023, Partytime announced the upcoming release of his first full-length project: Genesis. He later followed up the announcement with the release of ‘Gratitude’, his first single of the year. 

I caught up with Uncle Partytime to talk more about his career come-up, the EP and more.

You’ve been doing this for a while now, and have performed all over the country and a bit of the continent. Tell me, when looking at your career, how do you feel about your come-up and where you are right now?

I used to beat myself up a lot, even for the biggest accomplishments. I’ve always been thinking about what’s next, feeling that what I do is not good enough, and wondering how to improve. I still do that. However, I’m now at the point where I appreciate my work and value it a little bit more. Looking back, I’m good at this point, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

When COVID-19 hit more than two years ago, DJs could not get that much work done, due to restrictions. And we now live in a time when doing and being known for one thing is limiting. When the restrictions eased up, you introduced PartyTimePlayRoom (PTPR), which was you expanding into other avenues. Tell me, based on experience, how important is it to branch out and manage it all.

Please understand, being an artist is not easy. I think Black Coffee mentioned that, if you are in the early stages of your career taking off, therapy is important, to keep yourself level-headed. When COVID-19 hit in 2020 and I couldn’t DJ anymore, I couldn’t exercise all the plans I had. I did have a bit of an identity crisis; I couldn’t even listen to much music. Expanding is not always about money but it’s about not getting stuck on the thing, so that when you fall, you can’t get yourself up.

“When I started my career, growing and opening myself to other opportunities was always on my mind, which also gave birth to my name. I did not want to go as ‘DJ whatever’, hence the name Uncle Partytime. It’s not limiting.”

Still on the topic of PTPR… Besides being the project that helped you get out of your identity crisis and also helped you expand into being more than a DJ, what has been the objective of the event?

I’ve always had the idea, since I was a teenager, doing Onix Rage Fest with my boys. My heart has always been there. Despite what we accomplished, and we did do a lot, Onyx fell apart. I still had the idea of growing a community, helping kids from disadvantaged areas have a platform, and getting other people to help them when it comes to mental health. I’m still working towards getting all these ideas done.

Continuing with your expansion – you’ve moved from being known just as a DJ, to now also an events coordinator, and you’re having this slow yet evident transition into making music and being considered an artist. Tell me more about your decision to start making and curating your music.

When I started my career, growing and opening myself to other opportunities was always on my mind, which also gave birth to my name. I did not want to go as “DJ whatever”, hence the name Uncle Partytime. It’s not limiting. I’ve been making music since 2016, and, unfortunately, I’m only releasing it now. I have songs with Champagne69, Da L.E.S, Una Rams and Riky, all from that time, which still haven’t seen the light of day. 

Although you’ve been making music since 2016 and released your first song in 2019, we’ve not heard much more from you until recently. What’s the difference between the process then and now? Also, what made you decide to be consistent with releasing the music?

Honestly, bro, I had always been insecure about putting music out. Una Rams and I worked on a joint tape together. It sounded brilliant; however, we never got to put it out. Even the release of ‘Rough Patch’ – we only put it out because Riky posted it on his story and the song blew up, so we had to match that energy around the song. What’s making me more confident to take out music right now is that I went on holiday last year to a small town just outside of Cape Town, where I got the chance to think without the noise of the world. It gave me time to come to the conclusion and mindset that, from 2023 moving forward, whatever it is I want to do, I’m just going to do it.

Since you are now more confident to work and put out music, you’ve announced that you are planning to release your first full-length project, titled Genesis. Tell me more about the project. What’s the state of mind behind it? Also, how did it come about?

Funnily enough, bro, Genesis is two years old. I started working on it in 2021, during the lockdown. If I remember correctly, it was close to being done within a week. I booked out the studio for a whole week, and every day, we’d pop out a song. During that time, I would work with Master-A-Flat on the production, and every day, we would invite the likes of Sjava, Herc Cut The Lights, Una Rams, LucasRaps, Blxckie and more. Now, the story behind the name Genesis is Genesis All Black, which is an event by Until Until – one of the first major events I performed at. Until Until has been very instrumental in the success of my career, so I wanted to pay homage to them.

The first release you did this year was from the EP, with the song ‘Gratitude’, featuring Belo Salo, Una Rams, Crush and Herc Cut The Lights. How did that song come about and why did you decide to have it lead the project?

So, ‘Gratitude’ was one of the first songs we recorded. The song is based on this journal I wrote in my notes, and it was how I was feeling at that time. When we were recording it, I was in the booth with Una Rams, telling him how I was feeling and what I wanted to say, and he did just that. After a while, during the session, Crush asked if he could freestyle on the beat. At first, I was hesitant, but I let him do it, and BROOOO! That verse was it. From that day, I knew the song was just right. 

Is there any release date set? Also, besides the EP, should we expect anything else soon?

The release date is still not set yet. I’m not putting any pressure on myself; I’m taking my time. Also, I’m working on other projects, which I can’t talk about now, but keep a lookout.

This story appears in HYPE magazine #29, available here.

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