Sound Idea Sessions | Black Coffee

Black Coffee is, humbly put, a South African DJ and music producer. But his talent, countless accomplishments and whirlwind rise to fame make this description wholly inadequate.

These qualities, a dedicated work ethic and back to back worldwide tours are what have made him into arguably one of the most prominent producers out of the African continent. Known for his penchant for evocative Afro-house, his true talent lies in his holistic mission to rewrite musical conventions of that genre. Afrocentric yet globally contemporary Black coffee defies musical clichés and modernises African music through harmonious collaborations and crisp production. Described as a ‘reserved intellectual’ Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo - his birth name, had always had aspirations of becoming a DJ even from the tender of age of 14. The year 1990 was a pivotal time in his life and for South Africa, it is the same year apartheid struggle icon Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island and, ironically, on the same day of his release, Maphumulo lost the use of his left arm because of a violent political attack that lead to a car accident.

Influenced by the musical nature of a religious household and growing up in Mthatha, Eastern Cape and Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; he’d later go on to explore music’s nuances. He slowly acquainted himself with electronic music and playing at homely events with his cousin as a teenager. After completing high school, he went on to study music as a Jazz major student at Natal Technikon, now known as Durban University of Technology. Every great artist has one definitive moment where their music or talent is recognized, and for Black Coffee this came in 2004 after being chosen to participate in the Red Bull Music Academy held in Cape Town that year. The following year Black Coffee founded his record label Soulistic Music and released his debut self-titled album which featured a remixed version of South African classic Stimela by the legendary Hugh Masekela. The album itself was impressive for being created using simple music- making software.

It introduced his particular style of house music that wove Jazz, R&B and African influences to create something that was fresh and instinctually masterful. It also featured collaborations with the likes of acclaimed South African musicians including Busi Mhlongo, Thandiswa Mazwai and Hugh Masekela. In 2007, Black coffee continued to see his star rise as a well-known South African DJ and producer in the house music fraternity. The year saw him release his second studio album titled Have Another One which continued to solidify his prowess in creating tribally laced beats with an infectious flair. An invite came from the Red Bull Music Academy to play at the Sonar Festival in Barcelona, this opportunity gave Black Coffee a platform to showcase his talent to an international audience whilst holding his own against highly-ranked local and international DJs. In 2009 he released his multi-award-winning album Home Brewed, this album featured hit tracks such as Juju, We Are One featuring Hugh Masekela, Trip To Lyon and Superman which was later sampled in 2017 by Drake as Get It Together in the album More Life. The Home Brewed album could easily be labelled the project that made his musical affinity undeniable. In the year 2010 Black Coffee continued to conquer his dreams when he performed non-stop for 60 hours in Soweto, Johannesburg. In 2011 he took to new heights with his fourth album Africa Rising when he performed a live act with a 24-piece orchestra at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in his birth city, Durban.

This was followed by the presentation of Africa Rising as a triple- disc album including a DVD that sold double platinum. 2015 was a phenomenal year for Black Coffee as he toured internationally and released the international platinum-selling and multi- award-winning album Pieces Of Me which featured the double platinum single We Dance Again. In the same year he was awarded his first global award as Breakthrough DJ of the Year by DJ Awards in Ibiza, Spain. Black Coffee conquered the year 2016 with a release of an EP titled Journey Continues. This was followed by a song feature in a surprise release of a remix EP by the Grammy award-winning singer & songwriter Alicia Keys’ song In Common. He was then awarded Best Deep House DJ by DJ Awards in Ibiza, Spain and Best International Act: Africa by BET Awards in Los Angeles, USA. 2017 Black Coffee blew up as when he confirmed a summer residency at Hï Ibiza a club formerly known as Space in Ibiza and toured Europe right through the summer. A tour for him included and continues to grow to performing at the world’s biggest international festivals and best nightclubs such as Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Ultra Music Festivals, Tomorrowland, Sonar, EXIT Festival, Awakenings Festival, Pacha, DC-10, Output, Watergate and Shimmy Beach just to mention a few. Black Coffee’s efforts to redefine and promote South African music and bring to it a greater audience makes him more than just a DJ. They make him a burgeoning legend and artist whose star continues to shoot across cultures and generations of musicians not only within South Africa but across the world.