J’Something & The Mi Casa Music Legacy
By Joseph Gage
Sitting on a couch in a beautiful old apartment, I eagerly wait for J’Something to join me at any moment. Admiring the architecture around me, it feels like a place full of history and life, the colourful flower garden outside showing that it was also one worth preserving.
I hear a knock at the door and in strolls J’Something, or just ‘J’ as he introduces himself. The most noticeable thing about him is his smile. This guy is happy. After some initial small talk, we begin almost immediately chatting about God. It was beginning to become apparent what made him so happy. Excited to hear what he thinks about his band and their success: “If you could describe Mi Casa in one sentence, what would it be? “
“A band that is focused on creating a legacy through music,” he answers almost immediately. Funny, that is what I thought the building we were in must have – a legacy.
Mi Casa has certainly made a great start in leaving behind a legacy. Songs like ‘These Streets’ and ‘Heavenly Sent’ are well remembered from a few years ago and more recently, ‘Jika’ and ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend’, are loved by millions all over the continent. It is no surprise that they have won a number of accolades over the last five years including South African Music Awards for Best Dance Album, Group of the Year, and Record of the Year. But how did this legacy start?
“I think God intended for us to be together. It was in 2010 on the rooftop of the Radisson Hotel in Johannesburg. Soul Candi was hosting a party. I had just moved to Joburg after studying in Stellenbosch. I had nothing to do in Joburg and was staying on a cousin’s couch so I went to this party. And when I got to this party I saw this DJ playing and I thought he was so cool. And then all of a sudden I saw this trumpeter start to play with this DJ and I thought, ‘Ah, this plot just gets cooler.’ Then my cousin who knew that I could sing said I should go and ask them if I could sing. And even though I’m quite a reserved guy and there were like a hundred people there, I went to the DJ and asked him if I could sing. He looked at me and was like, ‘Yah, okay.’ Then I picked up the mic and started to share it with the trumpeter guy and started to do whatever covers I could think of and whatever I could freestyle.
The more we expose ourselves to different cultures and learn what they are all about, we’ll stop being so ignorant to those things that were imposed on us.
“After the show people came up to us and asked for our autographs and where they could get our albums. And I was like let me just get these guys’ names first! And that’s the day that me, Mo and Duda met. And three months later we got into studio and recorded our first song. We had such a vibe that three months later we got our first album out. And then we released a song called ‘These Streets’ and it became record of the year and now five years later here I sit in front of you today.”
Mi Casa consists of just three members: J’Something, Dr.Duda, Mo-T. J sings and plays the guitar, Dr.Duda is the producer and DJ, and Mo plays the trumpet. With this lineup, Mi Casa produces a unique jazzy and soulful house sound. And they are planning on bringing this to more of Africa.
“We have been working on an Africa tour called the Legacy Tour to start next year. We’ve travelled to a total of 28 African countries. This year we have done about ten. We’ve been working on a whole bunch of new music and collaborations with Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Eddy Kenzo and C4 Pedro – these massive African artists.”
His identity in Christ has made him look at life from a humble perspective.
“My identity has always been deeply rooted in the “My identity has always been deeply rooted in the fact that without people I am nothing, so I always pay tribute to the people around me. When I do an interview I feel very blessed to be able do an interview, like why would people want to listen to me? I literally feel like a kid from school who is doing what he loves and that’s music. So I feel extremely blessed that people care and want to listen to what I have to say about my music. But I think that our identity is rooted in humility that without people we are absolutely nothing. And I think that’s what keeps us very close to the ground.”
I can personally vouch for him paying tribute to those around him – he even complimented my beard!
He has achieved a large amount of influence throughout Africa being in a popular mainstream band. But as a Christian, he uses his influence for what is good. One of the things J is most passionate about is unity and as a result, he hates racism. So I asked him about how he thinks we in South Africa can move on from that to a new identity of racial unity.
“It would be extremely ignorant of you and me to think that we could ever fix racism in our lifetime. I don’t think we will ever be able to fix racism. I pray that my kids will have a better picture of a united world than I do right now.
“I think one of the biggest steps we can take though is exposing ourselves to different cultures. So many things have been shaped the way they are because that’s just how they were. I remember going to school and my black mates could not have longer hair and if they did, it had to be straightened. Those things were imposed on us. The more we expose ourselves to different cultures and learn what they are all about, we’ll stop being so ignorant to those things that were imposed on us.”
God uses Christians in all types of spheres of influence to affect change. “It is our role and responsibility to make a lifestyle out of Christianity which appeals to the masses. And it’s not by Bible bashing. It’s about love and understanding that life is a journey. You can’t fix everything right now, you need to understand that and work on doing what you can.”
J’Something and Mi Casa are going places. They are influencers in the mainstream African music world and perhaps one day even beyond Africa. Ultimately, they plan on going somewhere which glorifies God and leaves a legacy of unity to all they come into contact with. If you ask me, that’s exactly what I see.
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