Few contemporary artists are as truly versatile as Sho Madjozi, the rapper-singer-poet hailing from Limpopo (South Africa). From her trilingual lyrics, performed in English, Xitsonga, and Swahili, to her colourful style of dress melding tradition and contemporary stylings, coupled with her skills as a poetess, Madjozi continues to evolve her artistic practice. Helping introduce the sound of amapiano, the soulful and chord-heavy genre of South African dance music, to the world, a style she embeds in her latest single Toro and her first release since viral hit John Cena.  
The song rings out as a celebratory tale of her ability to evade pitfalls, emerging victorious in her journey as both an artist and person. Envisaging the whole world as ‘up for grabs,’ in a moment when it's possible for artists to transcend scenes, moving beyond neo-colonial confines based around borders and perceived difference, Sho Madjozi emerges victorious, a defining artist for a new age.
For those of you who may not know you, would you like to introduce yourself? 
I guess simply put I’m a South African artist.  
Congrats on the new release! You’ve spoken a bit about the origin of the song Toro, and its links to your spirit and a testament to your power as an artist. What do you hope listeners take away from the song?  
I want it to be a song that empowers people. Don’t forget how strong you are. I’ve been through so much difficulty in establishing myself in this industry. People should know it’s not been easy but we should never forget how badass we are.  
You are embarking on some prominent global tours, such as supporting Stromae, how does it feel to be gaining international recognition?  
It’s so huge to get to tour with Stromae who is an icon and one of my favourite artists in the world. And being able to expand globally is great. Gone are the days when stardom was limited to the borders of our countries as non-America. Right now the whole world is up for grabs.  
I can’t go without mentioning John Cena and the fame you gained after your Colors performance. How did it feel to become viral and be invited to international shows after you wrote a song about a WWE fighter? 
That was such a whirlwind and so amazing. I feel incredibly blessed. When you make music you never know how far it can reach and that was an example of the fact that it can reach very far indeed.  
What would you say defines the music scene in South Africa? What does the future look like for South African artists, and are there any artists you would like to highlight?  
The future is looking extremely bright for South African musicians. And everyone that does any small thing in this industry pushes all of us forward as well. Every time the amapiano artists perform abroad or have crossover hits, they open the door not just to everyone in that genre but to South African music as a whole.  
A lot of your lyrics are written in Xitsonga. What's it like being an artist who sings in several languages and do you feel you express yourself differently in each one?   
It’s a bit tricky being multilingual. It has obvious advantages but it’s also tricky to know when to do which language. I absolutely express myself differently in the languages I use and that’s part of what makes my music so diverse and complex. 
What was your relationship with music growing up? And what influences your indelible style as an artist and performer?   
Like most people, most of the music I had access to growing up was the music my parents were listening to. And luckily they had good taste. I grew up listening to artists like Lauryn Hill and the Fugees, Angie Stone etc., which all had strong female songstresses. And from around the continent, we listened to Oliver Mtukudzi, Kanda Bongo Man and the likes and that obviously expanded my mind to a whole of sound a grew my love for this continent.  
What makes amapiano as a genre so unique, and can you name a few iconic amapiano tracks for those unfamiliar with the genre?  
There’s a freeness that comes with amapiano. You can just hear that people are having a great time while making it. From the melodies to the lyrics to the dancing, it’s not very strict. There could be as many as six people on one track. You can hear that what holds it together is unabashed enjoyment. Some of my favourite amapiano tracks are Abalele by Ami Faku, Nkao Tempela by Ch’cco. Abo Mvelo by Daliwonga, Paris by Q-Mark and TpZee etc. It evolves so rapidly. 
I first became introduced through your work through your collaboration with She's Drunk and De Grandi on the track Amadoda. Do you plan on collaborating with more club producers in the future?  
Absolutely. I have something coming with Riton soon. My voice really works for anything that is for the dance floor.
Your videos are a great combination of playful and powerful. How do you come up with ideas for the shoots and what elements of storytelling do you aim to incorporate with each video? 
What I am trying to put across is constantly evolving. I think at first I wanted to introduce myself and show that I’m going to be bright and unapologetic but now that I’ve done that it becomes more interesting than what personal stories I want to tell.  
You studied Creative Writing at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, in the United States, do you see lyrics and songwriting as an extension of that practice? What sort of themes do you touch on through your creative writing?  
Of course. My writing and my understanding of rhythm in songwriting come from my love of verse writing, as in poetic verse. Strangely in my written stuff, I’m a lot more serious and I’m usually talking about socio-political questions. A lot of my poetry, especially lately, has become more heartfelt, but then my music is more tongue-in-cheek. 
How does it feel to be part of such a creative generation within South Africa and across the continent? What interconnectivity or relationship do you feel towards other African countries? 
I’ve always felt I was African and not just a South African. Having lived in various African countries (Tanzania and Senegal), I’ve always felt connected and my music always bridged that gap linguistically and with features. What’s nice is seeing other South African artists embrace that more and more.  
Looking ahead, what tour dates or projects are you excited about in the new year?  
I’m excited about my children’s book Shoma and the Stars, which is coming out this December. And I’m excited to keep rolling out my new music next year and to do a Euro tour in the summer.
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