Rapper, entrepreneur, trend setting socialite and reality TV star are some of the titles that describe the phenomenon that is Da L.E.S. At only 26 years old this premier entertainer has had a career that has seen him share stages with heavyweights such as Kelly Rowland, Rick Ross, T-Pain and 2Face in concerts across the African continent.
Da L.E.S has never been one to follow the status quo and this is evidenced through his story. He was born in Washington to South African parents who were studying in the United States and after spending his formative years in the U.S. the family returned to South Africa in 1993.
His first notable step into the limelight came with the establishing of African Hip Hop super group JOZI in 2007 (signed to the Ghetto Ruff music label on a 3 album deal). The impact of this group on the musical landscape has been nothing but monumental, with their first album Muthaland Crunk (sales: 30 000 copies) earning them their first MTV Africa Music Awards trophy (Best Live Performer) in 2008. The group’s debut album also went on to be nominated for numerous other awards (South African Music Awards, Metro FM Awards and Channel O Awards).
While the pressure of being in a group that has just released their debut album would be overwhelming to most artists, Da L.E.S only increased his momentum by working on his solo album Fresh2Def(sales: 12000 copies). The story behind the album is an unusual one, with its inception being a result of time that L.E.S spent in studio with fellow Jozi member Bongani “Bongz” Fassie. What was supposed to be one track developed into this multi award nominated album, largely due to the chemistry between these two childhood friends.
Da L.E.S explains “Bongz & I have been friends from the age of 14, the evolution of the album was based on our love for Hip Hop and our joint determination to put hip hop on the map – a goal I think we achieved”. The personal element in this album is readily evident as it was this album that allowed him to showcase his lyrical versatility and unique eclectic sound. A sound, which best represents his own personality and influences that in turn define his rapping style. Fresh2 Def is woven out of a lyrical introspection of L.E.S’s desire to continually enhance and refine his ability as an emcee.
Such was the critical success of Fresh2Def that L.E.S is still regarded as the king of ‘fresh’ not only in South Africa but the rest of Africa as a whole. On this, he shares “my personal style from rapping, to dressing has to be FRESH!” a statement that any of his over 47 000 followers on Twitter can attest to (handle: @2freshLES). The album kept impressing critics and continued on to be nominated for the SAMA and MAMA awards.
In an industry that is known to corrupt its superstars it is not only impressive but also inspirational to see L.E.S maintain a cool composure through his rise through the ranks. Has remained humble through the experience and in his words he says “My parents have kept me grounded and I try my best to surround myself with positive determined people”. It is this thinking that has earned L.E.S his seemingly endless list of accolades.
Despite being a relatively new group, such was the allure around Jozi that they were invited to perform at the 2009 MTV Springbreak event in Panama City, Florida. In the same year Jozi went on to release their second album Wildlife (sales: 16 000 copies) which resulted in no less than 6 hit radio singles. A single from the album Diva was selected by Nokia as a feature giveaway at the launch of the OVI platform.
The accolades continued to rush in with Jozi performing to over 1.5 billion people worldwide at the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. This album proved to be a further success with the group picking up the Best Hip Hop Video Award in the Sounds Of The City Awards in Nigeria and four award nominations for the 2010 Metro FM Music Awards (Best Group, Best Hip Hop, Best Video and Best Styled Group), as well as a nomination for the Artist Of Year in the same year’s MTV Base Awards.
In 2011 the Muthaland Crunk Boys took to the stereos nationwide with Let’s Get This Party Jumpin’, the 6th single from their Wildlife album earning them yet another award nomination – this time for the coveted Best Record Of The Year for the 17th Annual SAMA awards in 2011. Always ones to maintain their momentum the group continued to shine with the flighting of their reality TV series Jozi – Moving the City on the South African national broadcaster SABC1.
The series followed Jozi and their manager David Kibuuka across Africa as they searched of new sounds, which they then fused with their own sound. During the filming of the series, the group recorded an album aptly named Moving The City(sold: 11 000 copies), in which they displayed their new sound. Many touted this new album as proof that Jozi had massive crossover appeal, as the album’s many hits had a variety of Electro, Shangaan, Naija, Khoisan and house infused beats.
2012 started with yet another milestone for Jozi, this time performing in Equatorial Guinea at two of the official presidential New Year’s celebration events. The group returned to South Africa for a performance in their home city Johannesburg (nicknamed Jozi) on top of a 20 storey building, to a virtually unlimited audience, using the live online broadcast platform SkyRoomLive (http://www.skyroomlive.com/). In late 2012, the album Moving the City was nominated for Best POP Album at that year’s SAMA awards.
At the beginning of this year L.E.S made history by winning the Tropika Island of Treasure in Jamaica. 2013 has also thus far been yet another bumper year for Jozi with the Moving The City reality TV show being nominated for Best Reality TV Show at the SAFTA (South African Film Television Awards) awards and Best TV Series at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. The series has aired on both the SABC and also on HiTV UK.
On the solo front, L.E.S is currently working on his second album MANDELA MONEY (due for release in September 2013 via Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa). In true L.E.S style the album has already spawned two major hits KONTROL (featuring South African Hip Hop superstar AKA) and HEAVEN (featuring AKA & Maggz). He describes the underlying message of his new album as “It’s a mix of making a better future for all around me and spreading the word that we can all achieve MANDELA MONEY status…”
It is through showing unrelenting dedication and an unsurpassed flair for music that Da L.E.S has achieved milestones that have proven him to be a cut above the rest. Through his involvement with Jozi he has become recognized as one of the best performers in the country. As he explains, “rapping is something that lives within me continuously, let me just hear a beat and I automatically want to just start rhyming”.
Outside of music L.E.S has many interests that he pursues. He hosts and is the concept owner of an invite only Annual All White Pool Party (in its 5th year) which has become a regular fixture for celebrities, media and sports personalities. His love for skating and flair for entertaining landed him a performance at the 2012 Maloof Money Cup World Skateboarding Championships in Kimberly, South Africa.
His outlook on his immediate future is as follows “to release a banging Album and continue to work on my personal brand!”. This is a goal that he is sure to attain as his star keeps on rising.
For Booking DA Les : Booking@djsproduction.co.za / 0813401356