Rapper Maraza gets candid about almost losing himself in the Jozi lights

“I was dealing with depression and anxiety, I was looking around and thinking I almost lost myself in Johannesburg. I was losing myself, so I went back home.”

26 November 2021 - 08:00 By Constance Gaanakgomo
Maraza has travelled far and wide to find himself.
Maraza has travelled far and wide to find himself.
Image: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape

Fame can be a lot to handle and Rapper Maraza found that out when he reached the peak of his career with his hit song Gwan that was on high rotation everywhere in Mzansi.

He has been out of the limelight for years since that song. He's revealed that was scarce because he had to shed the things that were weighing him down, and ultimately led to his depression. The 32-year-old said he had to pretend that he was happy, that he had money, cars, and an amazing lifestyle and it all weighed him down.

Speaking to TshisaLIVE he said felt pressure to release music when he was still in demand at the time, but he wanted Mzansi to see a different side to him.

“There are so many layers to me that I wanna show people different things, what happened was I started being swayed, I started feeling that maybe I should start making another Gwan. So what I did was just I decided to go home this was 2017, when I was done with the Gwan run.”

He said he tried hard to connect to himself, and when it wasn't working he left the city to go recoup at home.

“I was dealing with depression and anxiety, I was looking around and thinking I almost lost myself in Johannesburg. I was losing myself, so I went back home. I went to the river, sat with my grandfather, ate sugarcanes, climbed mango trees, went back to where we used to collect water and I did all the stuff I used to do when I was a child in high school, which I was always trying to balance, and music.”

The last musical project he released was his EP Lost and Found — more the lost part, he said. 

“The part of me that I thought I had lost, was not necessarily lost, it was disconnected, there were aspects of me that I needed to lose to grow into the Sphamandla Mhlongo aka Maraza that I am today. So I started working on a lot of music. 

“So for me I then did the lost and found EP, I was talking about all the tragedies, I was going through things that I have lost. It ends with the song lost, and then I mentioned all the things that I have lost, all the things that I'm happy that I have lost and the few things that remain, family, a rekindled love for the arts form which has been my therapy for so long.”

He released a single Ungithandile featuring LilyFaith and he is working on his album Lost and Found.

“People wanted me to repeat the same formula basically, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but for me I don’t like remaking the same piece of art and just branding it as something different. But that’s a formula that works in the business of music.

“The album is the found version of it, that’s why you will hear there is a lot of references to amakhaya, amadlozi, abantu abadala. The album is now what I have found which is me. And I’ve found a better me now that I have allowed myself to lose certain things that I have picked up along the way, that I realised were actually toxic towards me and holding me  back.  The album of lost and found is a celebration of a guy who has found ‘home’ and has returned to his roots, that’s what people are going to get next year.”


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