Following the mass exodus of talent from his label, Cashtime Life, Cashtime co-founder, K.O has been at the centre of a lot of speculation and ire stemming from his preference for not addressing the public whenever there is a problem.
As a result, the streets have filled the void provided by his silence with their own conclusions about what goes on behind closed doors at Cashtime. Part of his reason for the public silence stems from his view that posting problems on one’s social media timeline is never done with the aim of finding a resolution, he feels as though there is always an ulterior motive for making such a move.
The drama at the label originally began when Ezee ‘Ma-E’ Hanabe’s brother Ntukza (real name, Bantu Hanabe) parted ways with his Teargas members in 2015 citing an apparent family rift fuelled by his lack of equity in the business. OK Mzansi reports that he didn’t even have any idea that the label was being launched until he saw it on Twitter.
The fact that Teargas was no more made it easier for the label’s protégés, Cashtime Fam, to flourish as the youngins burst on to the scene with the hit single, Goodbye. The trio – made up of Kid X, Smashis and AB Crazy – had quite a good run before losing their first member as soon as they began. Kid X and Smashis later went their separate ways but chose to stay with Cashtime.
K.O (real name Ntokozo Mdluli) says he began the label with a Young Money, Cash Money Business (YMCMB) vision in mind. He had also been inspired by what Oskido had achieved with Kalawa.
According to him, the aim was to create a platform to launch young artists in the same way that Oskido did. Afterall, BET Award winning artist, Black Coffee got his start working with Oskido. As did DJ Tira – who now has Afrotainment, which has also allowed its own artists to flourish beyond the label.
K.O’s vision was compromised earlier this year when the group’s first lady, Nomuzi ‘Moozlie’ Mabena, announced that she was leaving the group a few months after she joined them. She did not give an explicit reason for the move but she followed the announcement with a lukewarm song and promised that we would get our answers in the song. Spoiler alert: we didn’t.
And while we were just getting over that news, Kid X decided to announce, on live TV in August 2016 that he was no longer a “Cashtime tsosti for life.” In the same fashion as Moozlie, he dropped a single following his departure. He just opted out of taking pot shots and promising us juice in the form of music, instead, X decided to use his craft to say ‘thank you’.
And while all of this was going on, K.O had absolutely NOTHING to say (at least not to the public). “I just chose to handle things like a real G,” explained the rapper.
“If something happens on social media, I don’t do the whole back and forth with whoever might have started it. Let’s say it’s someone that I have access to… I’ll give them a call and be like ‘okay cool, so what’s this about?’ and we’ll sort it out and it ends there. It’s up to them to go back the same platform where they started it and tell people that we’re good, because I don’t do that.”
And that is exactly why fans of Cashtime, Moozlie and Kid X had a field day sharing their opinions on the matter via social media. A lot of their criticism stemmed from the fact that they believed that K.O used his position in the label and its resources to ensure his own success ahead of that of his own artists.
“What has put me off is investing time and even emotions into other people. Because I sit there sometimes and look at some of the guys on the scene and even my peers and I’m like ‘can you imagine if I was only focusing on myself and investing my resources into just the K.O brand? I could be somewhere else’.”
Even though the rapper never addressed these allegations on the timeline, he saw them all and said that he felt let down by X and Moozlie because they never publically absolved him of any guilt. He did however reiterate that he still speaks to Moozlie regularly and that there is no bad blood between him and X.
“After going through all these things, you kinda check the rear view mirror on some ‘shiiit, was it really worth it?’ I find myself being vilified for doing good and sharing my blessings with other people and trying to help them. I have no regrets though”
The ordeal hasn’t been without its lessons though. He promises that we will be seeing a more vocal K.O from now on. He even encouraged fans to ask him directly (via social media) anytime they want to know anything in future.
“From now on, you’re going to see a more vocal K.O on social media on any burning issues that have to do with my brand.”
What he won’t be doing though is stepping away from running things. “There is no way that I could ever walk away from something that I started,” he explained.
Looking back on everything, he attributes the problems with Moozlie and X to the fact that each artist at Cashtime is responsible for working on their own brand and album.
Cashtime just provides support and resources but it is up to each artist to work on achieving the vision they had in mind for what kind of artist they want to become.
“Work ethic, talent and business acumen is what will take an artist far, Cashtime only provides a platform.”
I personally found this quite odd. Young artists may have talent and lofty dreams, but, they certainly lack the network and the type of experience required to achieve what Cashtime expected them to achieve on their own. So, I asked K.O why they chose to go that route instead of offering intense guidance at the beginning before allowing more creative control on later projects.
K.O claimed that he and his partner, Cashtime CEO, Thabiso Kati, had been very hands on in the beginning in order to ensure their artists “got off the ground,” but said they had to take a step back after their artists asked them to.
He added that this was because these unnamed artists felt as though they needed a chance to show what they were made of and gain success on their own terms. Fair enough.
According to K.O, when their artists were allowed to do this, their numbers dwindled and their projects weren’t as well received as they had been under K.O and Thabiso’s tutelage. He believes that he and Thabiso made the mistake of not stepping in at that point and making it known that maybe it was time for them to be more hands on in light of the dip in momentum. “Every decision they made for their careers after that was their sole responsibility,” he added.
“You are in charge of your own business and if you make a move you are responsible for it. We can only help if we are roped in fully.”
Case in point; the label’s recent push to finally release Maggz’s highly anticipated album as well as his announcement of a November 4th release date.
Maggz has been quite the talking point ever since he joined Cashtime. Mainly because he has yet to release an album despite being with the label for quite some time now in addition to the fact that he has been lauded for his ability as a rapper.
I was surprised to learn that the release date was determined soley at Maggz’ discretion. K.O said the label is yet to hear anything that he has recorded, which makes them anxious as they may need a significant amount of time to work on the album in order to make sure it’s ready for that release date.
“We are not going to chase around a grown man, we respect his space and we respect his business.”
The same goes for the label’s lesser known artist, RnB singer, Masandi.
Although, K.O says Masandi is a different case to Maggz who joined the label as an artist who had already established his brand and sound. Masandi is yet to figure that out. However, K.O does commend the singer for heavily involving Cashtime in everything he is doing in order to achieve his dream.
Despite the fact that K.O has decided to postpone his own album in favour of moving things along with his remaining artists, he promised that he won’t fall completely off the radar.
He has two upcoming tracks with Witness the Funk and Smashis respectively and he claims that he will be investing more time in working as a producer. He will also be shooting and releasing a video for his single, ‘Fallback,’ because the fan response to the single (which was originally meant to be a throwaway track) has been so amazing.
What’s next for Cashtime?
Well, the drama doesn’t seem to have affected the brand. K.O said a number of established and up-and-coming artists have reached out and expressed their desire to work with and join the label. There may even be some new additions on the horizon as the rapper promised that they will be making some announcements in the coming weeks.
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Main image credit: Photo by Anthony Bila via K.O’s Instagram.