Big Number, also known as Tlhomamo Mokoa, is an up-and-coming artist hailing from Soshanguve who is making waves in the music industry. With his unique style and powerful messages, Big Number is quickly gaining a loyal fan base.
Starting from the beginning: background and stage name
Tlhomamo Mokoa, born in Mafikeng and raised in Vryburg, now calls Soshanguve his home. Raised by a single mother, Duduzile Mokoa, he attended Hill View High School and started his music journey at a young age. From an early age, he showed a keen interest in music and began recording and writing songs when he was still in primary school.
His stage name, Big Number, originated from his days as a DJ in Botswana. He explains: “They used to say, ‘you o shapa Number Jo o Laas’, which means ‘you play good music’. So, I combined DJ Laas Number and changed it to DJ Big Number, dropping the DJ later on.”
Exploring different musical genres and influences
While Big Number is primarily focused on hip-hop, he also showcases his versatility by branching out into deep house, Afrotech, commercial house and amapiano as a DJ. His musical influences include HHP, Proverb, Eminem, Lil Wayne and many other artists who have shaped his unique style.
First song and conveying a message
Big Number’s first song, ‘Swimming Pool’, was inspired by Kendrick’s hit song of the same name. He wrote it in Setswana, showcasing his cultural roots. As his style evolved, his music started conveying specific messages. He also aims to tell stories that focus on the mistakes people make.
“My music is all about love, peace, perseverance and forgiveness. I want to relay stories that highlight the mistakes we make and the lessons we learn along the way. By combining the old basics of rap with a unique flow, I strive to set myself apart from other artists and deliver meaningful music.”
What sets him apart, and his creative process
What sets Big Number apart from other artists is his ability to maintain the basic elements of rap. He emphasises punchlines, flow, cadence, authenticity, storytelling, sense, rhyme and a powerful message. His creative process primarily begins with the beat. “Honestly speaking, it’s all in the beat for me,” he reveals. “I want to feel inspired by the beat, and then the words come naturally.” He seeks inspiration from the music and allows the words to flow organically. Sometimes, he is given a topic to write about, and other times, he simply puts pen to paper, drawing from his existing material to create a masterpiece.
Career highlight and collaboration experiences
Although Big Number believes his biggest career moment is yet to come, he considers performing before Shane Eagle a significant achievement. “I recently had the opportunity to perform before Shane Eagle at the peak of his career,” he beams. “It was a surreal experience for me.” He has collaborated with various artists, with a particular highlight being the ‘Never Ride’ remix, which was done alongside several artists from Soshanguve. He enjoys working with both established and unknown artists, as each collaboration brings a unique experience.
Overcoming challenges and future goals
Two major challenges Big Number faces are breaking into the music scene and getting his songs on official platforms and TV. To overcome these hurdles, he plans to continue pushing good music, collaborating more, and actively registering and following up with the platforms.
When asked about his goals for the future, Big Number envisions himself performing in different countries and collaborating with international artists. However, he remains grounded by his South African roots. “Realistically, I see myself pushing good music in South Africa, working with big local artists,” he states.
Building a fan base and marketing himself
Big Number intends to expand his fan base through more collaborations, shooting music videos and utilising social media platforms. He actively engages with his fans, replying to their messages and taking pictures with them in person. He believes in building a community around his music, both online and offline.
“I believe in the power of networking and featuring with other artists,” he says. “I also utilise social media platforms to connect with my fans and build a community around my music.”
The importance of art, and what motivates Big Number
Big Number firmly believes that art is a vital part of society, serving as an escape, a form of communication and a source of inspiration. For him, creating music is not just about motivation but a natural talent that he possesses. He finds inspiration in people’s experiences and situations they encounter.
Defining success and advice for aspiring musicians
Success, for Big Number, is not just about reaching the masses but also monetising his music. His advice for aspiring musicians is to be authentic and consistent, focusing on their own unique style and maintaining a steady output of quality music.
Moving forward, and what’s next
Big Number plans to release more music in the future and hopes to secure more live performances. He is pushing himself to regain the momentum he once had and continue making an impact in the music industry.
Through his music, Big Number hopes to make a meaningful impact. “I want my songs to touch people’s lives and inspire them,” he says. “I want to see my music monetised and live a lavish lifestyle, but I also want to support causes such as women empowerment, mental health and addressing issues within our society.”
Big Number is an artist with immense talent and a passion for his craft. With a unique style, powerful messages and a drive to succeed, he is well on his way to making a mark in the music industry. Keep an eye out for Big Number as he continues to captivate audiences and bring his music to the masses.