Young T, whose music is currently dominating the airwaves and can virtually be heard in any taxi on the road, is a bit of an enigmatic person. The release of his latest albums, tracks and videos has ushered him into the limelight. But apparently, through all new found fame he has managed to keep his focus. One wonders how he even manages to attend classes as he tells New Era Weekend that he has gone back to school to complete his mechanical engineering degree at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Why he chose mechanical engineering out of all other subjects linked to the music industry, he didn’t say. Nor did he give the reason why he departed from his first career choice when he enrolled for studies at the University of Namibia nearly seven years ago.
But first things first: What is the deal with the Mshasho Production label, the brand made famous by its founder, kwaito musician, The Dogg, real name Martin Morocky? Surely a successful musician such as Young T, real name Tulina Ndafyaalako, would want to be on his own, under a label that doesn’t insinuate being in anybody’s shadow?
Not so, says Young T. He doesn’t feel that being associated with the Mshasho Production label could threaten his music career growth, because he “chose” to sign the deal with Mshasho. “I am a forecaster. I plan and anticipate the worst before I hope for the best, in any movement I make. I chose to be with Mshasho not because there were no options, but because I believed in it and I will continue to,” says the 27 year old singer. In fact, he explains, being with Mshasho Production gives him sufficient room for artistic freedom and flexibility, which he values tremendously.
“People need to understand that my situation is 50 percent Mshasho and 50 percent UGU Audio, my own record company. Young T is an UGU Audio/Mshasho artist,” he says of his arrangement with the music label.
This brought us to the next question: Seeing that Young T’s music career is on an upward trajectory – does he foresee himself under the same arrangement with Mshasho for the next five years?
“I have real fans out there that expect me to focus on giving them what they love… [music]. Instead of this,” he says, before speaking of how such talks are such a waste of time for him at this moment. “The Dogg and I are “real life friends” outside the whole business thing anyway. So yes, I can be Mshasho/UGU for my whole career,” he says.
He added that while his music is making waves it has not really changed a lot in his life. “Probably because I see fame as a side product that a person in my position should not prioritise. I have had a long term plan and belief that at some point, people are going to listen to my songs, so I have long anticipated it,” he explained.
He emphasised that fame has not changed who he is but was quick to mention that he never intended on being famous.
All he wanted to achieve was success. “People confuse fame with success, but at the end of the day success is guaranteed to bring fame. I think the magnitude of fame depends on each person’s area of operation. We are all famous in a certain way and size,” he says. When he first embarked on his music career, his elders were wary of his career choice. Especially when it meant putting university studies on an indefinite hold while he pursued music. But he understood then and is now proud that they have come to appreciate his success.
In fact his entire village of Iilagati, in the Ongha district of the Ohangwena Region is so proud of him that when he visits they always ask that he perform two of the famous tracks from his albums – Namtenya and Fikulimwe.
“Sometimes our people have a fear of tackling a certain task just because they have seen others fail at it. I believe that any God given talent can be transformed into a career,” he says of the elders’ first reaction when he announced his intention to pursue music.
Born and raised at Iilagati, Young T’s lower education started at Epoli Combined School after which he completed his higher education at the Ongha Secondary School.
He first started as a producer, producing for other artists, while composing his own songs. His first album, Philosophical Pages, was released in 2014 and he has since released three successful albums up to date, including The Music Merchandise and the most recent, Becoming a King.
He says he was inspired to compose his favourite song Fikulimwe while in traffic, driving a old dilapidated Toyota Corolla. The way he tells the story is that he was at a traffic light waiting for the green light to go, when someone pulled up in the line next to him in a fancy Mercedes Benz.
“I started fantasising about owning a great vehicle someday. I sang the words to myself the entire way home. When I reached the studio, I realised that I had actually come up with so many lyrics to the concept that I can turn it into a song. So I did, and everybody just happened to like it,” he explained.
Currently Young T drives around in a Mercedes Benz AMG. “Fikulimwe song wished me well, I guess,” he joked.