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Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse talks legacy & imparting his wisdom to the youth

06 September 2021 - 14:00
Legendary musician Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse wants to ensure that his shares what he's learned.
Legendary musician Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse wants to ensure that his shares what he's learned.
Image: Supplied/via Vuma's My Community Cooks

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse shares his recipe for success with young creatives.

The South African music legend sat down for a first-of-its-kind intimate masterclass workshop with some of Soweto’s aspiring creatives.

We all have our own story to tell, the story that links us to our community and helps us connect to the world. Vuma’s My Community Cooks initiative, in partnership with the Soweto Wine and Food Festival, allowed 30 of Soweto's most gifted creatives to share their stories, knowledge, and experiences through an intimate masterclass with one of South Africa's music greats, Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse.

The workshop saw Mabuse share his experience in the industry, how he earned the nickname 'Hotstix', and advice for aspiring artists.

“The purpose of this initiative is not only to amplify the visibility of undiscovered talent but also to expose them to South African icons like Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse,” says Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vuma. “By creating platforms for and initiating conversations and creating connections, we can empower and encourage the country’s creative talent to achieve the extraordinary."

Take time to master your craft 

Mabuse, whose career spans decades, says artists who want to create a lasting career in the industry need to be ambitious, make sacrifices, and dedicate their time and energy to mastering their craft. “My ambition is what drove me to excel in my craft. I would practice for hours on end to hone my skills, and it paid off,” says Mabuse.

“Because I was so used to practising on my own, I was able to play a 25-minute drum solo at an event after a power outage prevented the band from performing. That solo earned me the name ‘Hotstix’.”

It's important for artists to remain grounded and not go into the industry for the fame because no matter what's happening today, you could find yourself in a very different position tomorrow."
Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse

Don't be afraid to break the mould

Mabuse believes young creatives need to focus on breaking the mould. “South Africa is probably the only country that can produce such a wide variety of music genres. But sometimes we narrow our ability to develop and grow our creativity.”

Using Amapiano music, the hybrid genre of deep house and lounge music as an example, Mabuse says everyone seems to be following this new music trend instead of drawing inspiration from that creativity to create new genres of music that are just as exciting.

Be open to reinvention

The Burn Out hitmaker says he owes his decades in the music industry to his ability to transform himself and find ways to stay relevant, including often sitting down with young creatives so he can figure out how the music industry has evolved.

“It’s important to be open to learning new things all the time. I would love to sit down with the creators of Amapiano music and learn more about this genre, maybe ask them why they felt they should call it ‘Amapiano’, especially considering that I can’t hear the piano in the music."

It’s important to be open to learning new things all the time."
Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse

Explore other escapes, besides alcohol and drugs

Mabuse acknowledges that the creative industry can be challenging but encourages creatives to avoid using alcohol or drugs as an escape. “I’ve seen alcoholism, first-hand, numerous times, especially with great musicians.”

Instead, Mabuse focused on sports to get him through life’s difficulties and encourages creatives to choose more positive ways of addressing their stress. “There are tons of other outlets out there. In my case, sports became my drug and would numb whatever challenges I faced.”

Don't do it for the fame

Driven by a dream to better himself, Mabuse returned to high school when he was 60. He advises young aspiring creatives to adopt the same mindset and enter the industry to share their unique story, improve themselves, and leave a legacy, and not chase fame.

"It's important for artists to remain grounded and not go into the industry for the fame because no matter what's happening today, you could find yourself in a very different position tomorrow. This industry is unpredictable. It makes you famous today and flushes you out tomorrow."

By shining a spotlight on creative icons like Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse, Vuma's My Community Cooks encourages young South Africans to showcase their talents and reach for the extraordinary.

Here is what some of Sipho's mentees thought about his words of wisdom

Lungisile Makhanya – Photographer

I am Lungisile Makhanya. I am a Multimedia design graduate. I am currently a freelance photographer.

  • How did you come to be part of this project?

I heard about Vuma My Community Cooks from my business partner, and I saw the poster on Facebook.

  •  What was your thoughts when you heard that Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse would be one of your mentors?

I was very excited to know that Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse is the mentor. I became more interested in to listening to his mentor session. 

  • What lessons did you take away from Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s advice and mentorship?

That we shouldn't give up on our careers no matter the difficulties we go through and to become more innovative within our careers. 

  • What was it about Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse that surprised you or that you didn’t necessarily expect?

He is a very humble man who is also intelligent. I didn’t know that he knows so much about his own industry and all the lessons he took in. 

  • What was your favourite moment in Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s presence?

When he spoke about not knowing Amapiano and why it’s called ‘Amapiano,’ but there is no piano in the music.

  • What do you think Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s legacy is?

The type of music he sings will be carried to other artists in the future. 

  • How are you going to apply what you have learnt from this project in your life?

I will make sure that I don't give up on my career. I will also collaborate with creatives, so that we can put South African creatives on the map.

Herena Sirindza – Singer from Soweto, Gauteng

My name is Herena Sirindza. I'm from Soweto and I am a singer.

  • How did you come to be part of this project?

A friend of mine sent me a photo of the Vuma poster and it had details on how to enter to become a part of the initiative. I then sent an email with my details and my song. I received a call and I was told that I am one of the artists that have been selected.

  •  What was your thoughts when you heard that Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse would be one of your mentors?

I was excited, in fact I was ecstatic because never in my life had I thought I would share a room with a living legend. That for me was an amazing lifetime experience.

  •  What lessons did you take away from Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s advice and mentorship?

The lesson I took from him is that education is important, it is important to go to school and work on your craft as an artist. I learnt from him that it is important to not only depend on talent but to work hard, to have faith and to always give your best in all that you do. I learnt that one should always be humble and let your work speak for itself.

  •  What was it about Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse that surprised you or that you didn’t necessarily expect?

I was surprised by how calm, friendly, patient, funny and open he was. I was blown away by how humble he was, especially because everyone has so much respect for him as a legend. He really blew me away by how kind he was and how easy he made it for everyone to have a conversation with him.

  • What was your favourite moment in Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s presence?

My favourite moment of his presence was when he played the piano on stage for us and later told us he had not practiced any of the songs he played, they actually came to his mind when he was on stage. That was amazing and a beautiful site to witness. 

  • What do you think Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s legacy is?

I think his legacy is being proud of being an African, being proud of the African beautiful sound. I think it is also humanity and kindness. 

  • How are you going to apply what you have learnt from this project in your life?

I will take it with me everywhere I go, I say this because he is a living legend and he did that by being himself, which is working hard, being good to people, treating people in a kind and respectful way no matter who they are. I am going to make sure to go to school and learn more about music, work on my craft and always stay humble no matter how successful I may think I am.

Itshupeng Sereme – Drawing geometric shapes, DJ and dancer

My name is Itshupeng Sereme also known as Itshu'Prince. I'm 27 years old and from Soweto in Dobsonville.

  • How did you come to be part of this project?

I became a part of this project through my Geometry Artwork. I received a link from a friend (Madamo Sthembiso). I then sent through my entry and My Community Cooks by Vuma responded to me. They said they will help me showcase my drawing skills with the world, as they are unique. 

  • What was your thoughts when you heard that Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse would be one of your mentors?

I thought it was a very good initiative from Vuma My Community Cooks to invite Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse as our mentor because it was very interesting to learn about our South African music background, the history and upbringing of Mr Mabuse.

  • What lessons did you take away from Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s advice and mentorship?

From the advice and mentorship of Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse, I have learned that in life you should always stick to being your natural self and follow your dreams. You must also keep advancing yourself in the talent and skills that you have as an artist so you can have an everlasting confidence in all you do. Have faith in life as it dictates how one thinks and how one will make it in life. I quoted from his words that "Spirituality does never change regardless of technological advancements."

  •  What was it about Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse that surprised you or that you didn’t necessarily expect?

I was surprised to hear that he left school to fully pursue his musical career.

  •  What was your favourite moment in Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s presence?

My favourite moment during Mr Mabuse's presence was when he played the piano and allowing the universal energy to take control, as he was playing a random piece that instantly came to his mind.

  • What do you think Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s legacy is?

I think Mr Mabuse's legacy is music.

  • How are you going to apply what you have learnt from this project in your life?

The lesson that I've learned from the Vuma My community Cooks project is one that I'm going to apply in my life.  It is to remain consistent and carry on with my Geometry Artwork and dancing, as doors and opportunities open to those that never sleep on themselves. I will also keep thriving to be the best version of myself and do my best every day.


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