'You don't need a big record label to be a top musician'

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Emerging music producer, singer and songwriter Leon Hlabathi from Chavani village reckons that he does not need a record label to make it in the music industry. He believes that hard work and his expertise are enough.

Hlabathi says that, as an independent R&B and hip-hop artist, he can express himself freely without the dos and don’ts that a label imposes. The 20-year-old artist is quietly creating a reputation for himself with his unique rap style, which has already won him thousands of fans. He is confident that he is on his way to accomplishing all the goals he has set out for himself as a musician.  

“The first step is independence. I want to do everything myself from start to finish and have the budget to promote both my music and myself and establish a social-media following. I also produce for other upcoming artists,” he said. 

Leon matriculated at Marimane High School in 2017 and is now a third-year law student at the University of South Africa (Unisa). His infatuation with music started in his primary school days, when he and some of his friends started experimenting.

“A few years later, I delved into it more seriously and learned how to make my own beats and record and mix vocals. After that, I started working on one of my own songs, which was only average then, but I have greatly improved over the years and continue to create music that I am proud of today,” he says.

Leon says his latest single, dubbed Stand My Ground, featuring local artist Manotry, was received well by their respective fans, with lots of comments and interaction on social media about it. According to him, the song has already been streamed more than 10 000 times on Spotify

He has already released a number of singles on streaming platforms. His most popular songs include Better Me, Dominance, also featuring Manotry, and Be My Guest, featuring Lester Matthews.



Independent R&B and hip-hop artist Leon Hlabathi believes that hard work and proper skills are the keys to success in the music industry. Photo supplied.


By: Thembi Siaga

Thembi Siaga started as an intern during 2021. He assisted with video photography and editing. He also produced numerous small documentaries, focusing on the Vhembe region and its people. Currently he works as a freelance journalist, covering stories in the Elim area.

Thembi studied at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he completed his diploma in Journalism in 2021.






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