Born Almost Free in South Africa interview and e-book link

Born Almost Free in South African

The world according to Brian
12 Aug 2013

interview by Shelagh McLoughlin

Photograph by Jonathan Burton

BRIAN Khoza wanted to learn about publishing so he published a book. Called Born Almost Free In South Africa, it’s a collection of his published and unpublished writings, which will be launched this week (August 16).
Where some might only dream of seeing their work in a bookstore, he took the initiative to find someone who could help him produce his own book. This can-do attitude is nothing new for the energetic Khoza (33), who has been writing regularly for The Witness since 2008.
A hip hop artist, he’s also recorded at least three albums, put together a volume of poetry, organised a concert, written a historical record of the Pietermaritzburg rap scene and keeps a blog. “The bravest thing I’ve done is write for the paper,” says this man who knows the perils of standing out in the crowd.
Born in Caluza in 1980 to a Zulu father and Xhosa mother, he was sent off with a false name to a school for Coloureds in the ’80s where he excelled, before spending his high school years at Carter High, a former Model C school.
“It’s been very strange,” he says of the experience of being a columnist. “I thought only middle-aged people, academics and a few nerds (though I am one too) would read it. But everybody, every category of people in life read it. They came and confronted me about what I wrote. Some [columns] they liked, and some were controversial, such as when I wrote about the generation gap, or race.
“It’s made people suspicious. The editing part is difficult. Sometimes the meaning of what I’ve said gets changed. I get SMSes from people and it’s really stressful. It’s not just in the black community, it’s all the communities.
“I’m putting myself out there. People can interpret a sentence in five different ways. I knew that, but I have to face my fears. Safety is a concern, but I also don’t want to alienate my friends, black and white.”
Khoza writes from his own experience and readers of The Witness and Weekend Witness will be familiar with his unflinching treatment of everyday issues, from his parents’ divorce to the racial ins and outs of making eye contact and gender politics.
“I’m very passionate about [gender],” he says. “Girls can’t feel comfortable walking down the street. I was influenced by [late rapper] Tupac [Shakur] — he was a hard-core gangster, but he was a feminist.”
Khoza’s dream is to be a role model for young men. “Until I made peace with my father, I was crazy,” he says about the effect of his parents’ divorce when he was six. He agrees that the phenomenon of single mothers in this country is a huge problem.
“All my friends who grew up with both parents are mostly married. [But] I’ve had to teach myself how to deal with relationships. I had to learn from TV. Kids grow up not knowing how to deal with conflict and co-existence because they haven’t seen their parents dealing with it.”
On his own path, he’s been influenced by hip hop culture, which is about self-knowledge and constant growth. “Hip hop pushes you to be as creative and original as possible. I use it in my writing. Because I have experienced different backgrounds, I’m aware of different perspectives.”
The courage to do this, he says, comes from being “in touch with my mortality. I do things for my unborn kids. I used to live a dangerous life and didn’t think I’d live long. I’ve been in lots of fights.”
Khoza has managed to navigate a passage through sometimes choppy waters. He’s now working on a full-time Masters degree in education and development, and has just started a salaried job with the Department of Agriculture and the Environment, as a sociologist. “I have no social life,’’ he says cheerfully.
He acknowledges that the company he keeps is important. “My friends are very intelligent overachievers. They motivate me.
“Attitude is important for success,” he says. “Getting a job is not all about having money to start with. We all have something we can do but fear stops us.”
• Born Almost Free in South Africa is published by BK Press and will be available at the launch, on August 16, 7 pm, at Illawu Inn Conference Centre, 111 Chief Albert Luthuli Street.
RSVP 0823260141 or*

Download “Born Almost Free in South Africa” at

link to Tha Playmaka’s Good Things (Like Winnie & Tata)…and story behind song

“Symphonies are composed of people
Like you who make other’s spirits soar like an eagle
At a time when they are feeble” Tha Playmaka, Good Things (Like Winnie & Tata), PMB POISON: Personal Moral Regeneration…

Peace Kings and Queens!

I remember writing this song with a different name when I was dating Mrs. Play Dirty. Mylowe had a beat that sampled Madonna’s “Who’s That Girl”, so I was going to have “You that girl” being sung when I recorded it. So, for about a week I kept singing “You’re that girl” every now and then. What I remember about that relationship is Mylowe ALWAYS telling someone to leave me alone I’m in love. I was 19. Like, it wasn’t that deep really, like my big homiest or whatever when they wanted me to cheat, would just say “He’s whipped”. So, when I made the new post-break up version that’s here, where I say, “Against all odds we had something to prove/ We lost focus my friends didn’t approve” it caused some tension with M but I explained. He was really supportive, and when we couldn’t find a singer he did the singing. Thanks M, and not bad singing either!

I say Winnie & Tata because we were a great couple that everyone thought would make it, like Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Tata Nelson Mandela. Their celebrity and poetic license allow me to call them by their real name in this, but my culture wouldn’t so I acknowledge that and apologize. This lady was there for me when things were really rough and cried for and suffered for me.

Good Things (Like Winnie & Tata)–tata

This version is composed by Mfanelo Mchunu, who is also known as Abz, but prefers to use his real name at this stage. He really helped me put my album recording process back to life! It’s a real great part of the story, that the album tells, because if you listen sequentially this song’s right after some aggressive content. She was the first person who made me think there’s something majorly wrong with violence. I thought she was weird for it, but she was real classy like that. After we broke up, she hated me womanizing like that as well.

Yeah, her code name is Belovedest and connecting with her the past year has been great because she knew me before my first song was on radio, before my first music related appearance in a newspaper, so she saw it all and I wrote a lot of songs on her desk while she was sleeping, in 2000. When we started doing shows, I’d creep into her room at res at 3am, 4am or 6am upon my return from the nightclub, but she never complained. In 2003 when she came back she told me I was different and asked me why I didn’t write anymore.

You have to be grateful someone loved at your worst and gave you a reason to keep your head up! Also, it is very important to be able to let relationships evolve to the next level if it comes to that, even if that next level is that of a great memory, an ex you see or call sometimes or just never talk to, without too much trauma. It is important that break ups do not become violent, and I hope somebody picks that up because women do get abused and men too when relationships end.

Cosi, cosi yaphela (which IsiZulu for, the end)! Thank you for reading!


link to Tha Playmaka’s Good Things (Like Winnie & Tata)…and story behind song

Originally posted on Brian dot Khoza:

“Symphonies are composed of people
Like you who make other’s spirits soar like an eagle
At a time when they are feeble” Tha Playmaka, Good Things (Like Winnie & Tata), PMB POISON: Personal Moral Regeneration…

Peace Kings and Queens!

I remember writing this song with a different name when I was dating Mrs. Play Dirty. Mylowe had a beat that sampled Madonna’s “Who’s That Girl”, so I was going to have “You that girl” being sung when I recorded it. So, for about a week I kept singing “You’re that girl” every now and then. What I remember about that relationship is Mylowe ALWAYS telling someone to leave me alone I’m in love. I was 19. Like, it wasn’t that deep really, like my big homiest or whatever when they wanted me to cheat, would just say “He’s whipped”. So, when I made the new post-break up version…

View original 442 more words

Lesson in Laws of Attraction (Goodbye to Tha Playmaka)

“I beg for God’s help. Why they love hurting me?”Nas, You’re Da Man, Stillmatic, 2001

I have had a weird day that kind of has played itself over and over in the past, but today it must stop. I guess that is why today I am not telling my closest friends but rather telling you, because they have heard the same story over and over.

A friend named Previn said if you do not learn a lesson it comes back and I think I have learned my lesson this time. My logic, which is true, was that the challenge comes back to see if you are strong enough to survive. Indeed I am so it is time for some new lessons, but look what it was!

By telling new people in my life what went wrong with people before them I have found myself in the same predicament with those very people. Today is cathartic because this has happened for years, and I always noted it. Today I accept it.

So, the videographer, the ex-girlfriend, ex-colleague and the ex-everything everybody is, I get it now. I should not have told you that somebody ran away with my money or lied or forgot work to focus on me personally. This is not a gender issue but across the board in my life. Maybe you wanted to do that damage better or maybe it was not your fault you did it, but some supernatural force. Regardless, I saw the potential and told you before hand. That is what is crazy! I hoped for a different result and thought telling you would achieve that result. We are both responsible. That is why I write so gently because I love us both.

They say I am amazing at first and want to explore such a genius. Everybody wants to make magic with me until they see that I am human and it is downhill from there. Am I doing it again? Saying what went wrong? I don’t learn. Learn what? That I must do it alone. That all I need is me.

I’ve been doing it dragging other people’s baggage for so long doing it alone should be very light indeed. This is the end of a chapter. This is the end of the playmaker, named Tha Playmaka, who helps others to his own detriment. Yes, he is the fool that has fed and clothed many but is at his wits end to see their significant contributions to his life. Only those I have not fed have helped me. How ironic! Right? I am slow learner indeed. I can afford the seasoned and should behave like it instead of trying to save people, or thinking that will be that much more dilligent. Today’s argument over whether I am angry at somebody is mind-boggling so I’ll agree with them. I am angry with you and disappointed. You have attracted it and must live with it.

I am looking around the room. My friends from a decade or two ago are still here in their absence. Their presence is here. Some new ones too, but these people whose lives I’ve saved and who swore eternal allegiance are doing well somewhere though ignorant of it due to self-destructiveness and… well, so am I? My abundance is like love; I give and never run out. Thank God.

Regardless, Mr Playmaka, Mr Save A Soul has run his course and will melt back into himself again like the Terminator. I must save up for kids’ education before they are born and make an empire they can be proud of. I already did. I must just drop some people off, and sell a hell of a true story to the world.

New me, I welcome you. No more violence or memories thereof. Just love, love and Words That Heal although they pierce like accupuncture. Because like Cee-Lo Green says,”Gunplay would be graphic if I choose to thug”. And as soon as I said that, this kind, smiley security guard just came into my office to see if I am ok because it’s late. I almost thought of him as a fool. But then I saw myself. See?

My best friend said to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve; maybe, if I was not trying to show humanity to the world.

Farewell to Tha Playmaka, hello Brian Khoza.

11 July 2014

PMB POISON features my loved ones

pmb-poison-back-cover.jpg“More than friends we are brothers
Whether or not we share a mother
More than brothers we are friends
‘Cause true love never ends
Started this thing in the 90’s
Ever since we were lighties”Cherry-Bee featured by Tha Playmaka, Welcome To The Pham, PMB POISON Personal Moral Regeneration…

It has been an epic 10 year journey to release what I wanted to be the ultimate Pietermaritzburg rap album. It has been inspired, written, recorded, mixed, mastered, packaged in Pietermaritzburg, by Pietermaritzburg-based people and will now be sold in Pietermaritzburg.

The lyrics were written from 1999 and the last complete solo song was written in 2004. The collaborations towards the end which are group songs were me being guests in 2007 (In My Hood) and in 2010 (So Gone), but I have kept them for my album. These songs will be released for free since I do not have instrumentals for them.

The background music to the rhymes beats were first supplied by Mylowe in 2003, Zoox in 2004, Arifani Moyo in 2008 and Mfanelo ‘Abz’ Mchunu in 2009. Two of the beats by Mylowe (Rhyme Pedigree Playa 2001, Welcome To The Pham) were initially intended for Stylez & Rashid’s project, but he allowed me to use them several years thereafter. Abz and Mylowe are Pietermaritzburg’s pioneer beatmakers and my favourites.

The rappers featured included my really talented brothers Peekay (who hardly raps) and Stylez who is a nationally known PMB rap veteran and one of the kings of rap in KwaZulu-Natal. Mylowe, like Stylez, is one of the kings and I started rapping with both of them. District XIII have carried the baton in my absence from the PMB Rap scene by releasing album, mixtapes and hosting events. Their online marketing track record is unparalleled.

The guys doing the monologues calling for peace and mature behaviour at the end of two violent songs (Phenduka, Murdaplot) are men we have been through real life and death situations with from emergency rooms, to funerals to general ghetto ups and downs.

The lady who sings on We Can Just Be Friends (Bianca’s Song) and Welcome To The Pham is Charity Ngubo also known as Cherry-bee. She helped us get our first live performance by hosting a talent show in 1999 and it led to us getting our first radio interview. She was part of a music society. Cherry-bee is an aspiring Jazz singer and song writer. She actually re-wrote the chorus to We Can Just Be Friends (Bianca’s Song) after being unhappy with the original, which showed leadership. She also interpretted my lyrics and melody to the chorus and sung verse on Welcome To The Pham very well, making it more professional than I had envisioned. We have performed live together and she is a consummate professional who can adapt to any environment.

This album is about my life and it is a blessing that it came out the way it did. I could improve a lot of things and the beats but that would make it a different album to what it is; a story of my young adulthood told in rhyme to the sounds of that era.

PMB POISON: Personal Moral Regeneration will be initially be available at Sophie’s Choice in Imbali Unit 1, and at the P’z Up PMB: Rhythm And Poetry Fest that will be on 17 May 2014.

Sharing my life with Everything Woman (published in The Weekend Witness,8Feb2014)

Sharing my life with Everything Woman

I believe in miracles, however they are orchestrated, and what I have gone through the past few months is possibly an example. And since it is love month, I want to take this opportunity to speak on my miracle love, Everything Woman.

It was August and I was at the end of my frustration with M’am I’d clicked with and quickly unclicked with after she started disliking me based on material perceptions. In my frustration I always remember 2pac’s line, “(Homies) know me as a player; I gotta stay true!” I haven’t been a player for ten years but I was about to try it again for a bit. Suddenly, this beautiful woman who had complemented me on Facebook some years back, and who to my slight disappointment was spoken for, reached out to me again. She wanted help with music this time, and I felt intimidated because how could somebody from London think I can help them?

Anyways, I describe my circle of friends as the love movement and one of them had passed away four ago in August. I’d been thinking on him those past few days because his funeral was on Michael Jackson’s birthday 29 August and I always remember those two milestones. That’s my brother Snoopy and our little bond was we were the two Snoopy’s in Imbali One. I was named after Snoop Dogg because of my hairstyles and he was named after the original Snoopy cartoon. She told me she was his sister, and made contact around his birthday too. Also, she had arrived at my former high school a year after I left and says my little brother was a big brother figure to her. What she says about the first time she saw me as I visited the school is quite flattering.

We met on the 31 of August at the Tatham Art Gallery, on the day I sent the long distance love interest flowers to say I give up trying to win her over. Besides business plans she told me a very heart-wrenching life story; a little more than you should tell a virtual stranger. However, her range of skills and talents and her broad knowledge of world history, religions and life still make me feel mediocre and are why I call her Everything Woman. That faith in me was heart-warming, but also it felt like looking into a mirror. I tell strangers so much too, mostly because I calculated a long time ago that I have more to gain than to lose for it. I broke my rule by dating her so soon, but I knew that I was loyal to her brother more than herself then, hoping it would grow and it did, exponentially. On Friday 7 September 2013 we began a relationship and Friday 7 February 2014 I told her I want to marry her ten times over. She said let’s do it.

I told my parents I’ve found love. Now, if I could just… find… that… ring!

Million Man March Pledge by Minister Louis Farrakhan, 16 October 1995


Now, brothers, I want you to take this pledge. When I say I, I want you to say I, and I’ll say your name. I know that there’s so many names, but I want you to shout your name out so that the ancestors can hear it. Take this pledge with me.
Say with me please, I, say your name, pledge that from this day forward I will strive to love my brother as I love myself.
I, say your name, from this day forward will strive to improve myself spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically, and economically for the benefit of myself, my family, and my people.
I, say your name, pledge that I will strive to build businesses, build houses, build hospitals, build factories, and then to enter international trade for the good of myself, my family, and my people.
I, say your name, pledge that from this day forward I will never raise my hand with a knife or a gun to beat, cut, or shoot any member of my family or any human being, except in self-defense.
I, say your name, pledge from this day forward I will never abuse my wife by striking her, disrespecting her for she is the mother of my children and the producer of my future.
I, say your name, pledge that from this day forward I will never engage in the abuse of children, little boys, or little girls for sexual gratification. But I will let them grow in peace to be strong men and women for the future of our people.
I, say your name, will never again use the B word to describe my female, but particularly my own Black sister.
I, say your name, pledge from this day forward that I will not poison my body with drugs or that which is destructive to my health and my well-being.
I, say your name, pledge from this day forward, I will support Black newspapers, Black radio, Black television. I will support Black artists, who clean up their acts to show respect for themselves and respect for their people, and respect for the ears of the human family.
I, say your name, will do all of this so help me God. Well, I think we all should hold hands now. And I want somebody to sing “To God be the Glory”.
And the reason I want this song sung is because I don’t want anybody to take the credit for a day like this. I didn’t do it. Reverend Chavis didn’t do it. Reverend Jackson didn’t do it. Reverend Sharpton didn’t do it. Conrad Rawell in Manarana Karinga (ph) didn’t do it. Dr. Cornell West didn’t do it. But all of us worked together to do the best that we could but it’s bigger than all of us.

So since we can’t take the praise, then we have to give all the glory, all the honor, all the praise to him to whom it rightfully belongs. So in closing, we want to thank Mayor Barry and Mrs. Barry for opening this great city to us. And out of every dollar that was collected, ten percent of it we’re going to leave here in Washington that Mayor Barry may aid some institution, some good cause in the city. We want to set a good example.

Born Almost Free in South Africa by Brian Khoza e-book link

Brian Khoza’s first book entitled “Born Almost Free in South Africa” is available for download as e-book for $0.99 at and the link is below. Thankful for support thus far.

Born Almost Free in South Africa book launch set

This may change, but I am mixing the first set of Nevermind Then (Vel’ Uyeke) with We Can Just Be Friends (Bianca’s Song) and performing it to Shu’s drums. I might freestyle or do other stuff depending on the mood. Rap along if you are at the show. I’ll give you my twitter, which will have the link to get you here..

Drum roll,

Do you believe in Karma?
I’m the charmer in shining armour
The Black Jack of Hearts who made the sea calmer
Margarine rhymes pack kilojoules like Rama
And I’m vain like wine to Afrikaners
I ploughed Earths like farmers
Then you came with this energy challenging The Sun
And a face that’ll have a playa mismanaging his funds
We did it the first night you keep stressing
A tough lesson
Somehow I feel you’re BS’n
You’re my Budd like Zola
Did I need Payola
To get Earplay? ‘Cause you treat me like a stroler
Push me away ’cause I’m The Sun you’re the Ola
Ice-cream I make you melt but you bowl me over like a bowler
Your essence is effervescence like Coca Cola
You’re bubbly I know you’d love thee a high-roller
But you kill me from inside like Ebola
So when your cell rings it’s not my number on your Motorola


I’m trying to write a poem to a poet

I’ll suck it up if I blow it

You know if

She feels it belongs where cornrows is

And thinks me corny and horny and only trying to score me a hit

I feel like I’m just about to bore me a chick

Who’s soft as petal but look how thorny she gets

Understandably prickly she warned me a bit

That I don’t stand a chance but it ain’t dawned on me yet

“Your chances are slim be content with a smile a day

Daily emails you’re 13 000 miles away

Find a S.A. chick before your style decays

Pursuing me you’re like a little child at play

With fire you’ll get hurt”

Comma’s invert

No full stop I’ll continue I’m gonna insert

Coins, game over? I ain’t playing no game

Gimme your lifetime I’ll give you my name.


When I walked your way

And saw your heart’s door way

I froze like an African sole in Norway
Not saying I was pervin’

But I’m observant

Mumbling words in

Gibberish I had you cursin’

You’re gorgeous

The kind a man never divorces

I would proudly follow your orders

And I just met you I wished you were not international

I definitely sounded irrational

But you’re so beautiful it made sense when I revealed

The fact that it meant I had no chance for something real

We got closer now I toast the most adorable

Oasis for one sip you’re so implorable

I gave up on writing a poem to tell how

We met, we fell out

Before you left I’ll leave the details out

We never got to say goodbye, it was on!

Thank you for the surprise, a book by Frantz Fanon.


I ponder
Looking beyond her
Even though I want her
‘Cause it’s an honor
To know Bianca
If true to my game
I wouldn’t say your name
But it ain’t no game
So it ain’t no shame
You don’t stagnate my flow
All you say is dope
Our mindsex quickies impregnate with hope
My bottom lip drops
Like albums in hip hop
So heavy with the words
I put it all in verse