When kwaito music blew up in post-apartheid South Africa, it opened doors for savvy artists and entrepreneurs. Kwaito labels began to spread like wildfire as demand from the buying public and market grew.
But nothing lasts forever and as the saying goes: what goes up must come down. And in the music industry this is all too common – trends, genres, artists and labels come and go.
The following article will take a look at 3 kwaito labels which had the potential to grow into larger companies.
1. Bulldawgz Entertainment
Bulldawgz Entertainment was founded in 1999 by Oscar Mlangeni and Nimrod Nkosi of Jam Alley Fame.
Oscar, who was the then producer of Jam Alley, was impressed with the talents of a young contestant on the show by name of Nkosinathi Zwane, popularly known as Mzambiya.
The then unknown kid from Zola Soweto was signed to the newly formed Bulldawgz Entertainment and his debut smash single “Mele Senzeni” was released in 2000.
Oscar and Nimrod had a knack for discovering young and raw talent (and continued to do so) and this was evident when they broke the likes of Msawawa who was barely in his teens and later Mshoza.
Whether this was by choice or default but the label established a reputation for being “kiddies’ label” and as a result could not attract any credible artists after Mshoza.
It was not a surprise when Bulldawgz finally shut their doors for good.
2. MDU Records/Wolla Music Entertainment
Mdu Masilea a.k.a is considered one of the pioneers of kwaito and for a good reason. In 1989 together with his longtime friend Mandla Spikiri Mofokeng, they released their debut album (MM Delxe – Where Were You?) under the now- defunct Cool Spot Productions.
By 1996, Mdu had founded two labels MDU Records and Wolla Music Entertainment with distribution support of the major labels. Although Mdu became the main flagship artist for his own label by releasing hit albums every year – he gave others a platform and the notable act being Mashamplani.
But unfortunately the group didn’t have a break out single and later disbanded and disappeared from the music industry
Mdu Records continued to thrive as a one-man army label but by 2003 kwaito was changing and Mdu Masilela focused on producing for other artists (Brown Dash is an example).
3. 999 Records
Although 999 Records is still in existence, but the label is no longer a force to be reckoned with – and for obvious reasons.
The label was founded by Arthur Mafokate in 1992 and sort of had a first-mover advantage alongside the evergreen Kalawa Jazmee Records.
Arthur as the head honcho of 999 Music was responsible for breaking the likes of Oupa Makhendlas Mafokate (his late baby brother), Abashante (which comprised of Nestum, Queen, Hazel, Aba and later the late Zombo) and Chomi into the mainstream.
At one point, with the exception of Kalawa, 999 was the go-to label if you wanted to be a kwaito superstar.