Kyeezi gets candid about his new gig at MetroFM and everything in between

A dream came true due to sheer grit and determination.

Khanya Siyengo a.k.a Kyeezi a.k.a The Tall Wonder is a true hustler with real love for radio, hip-hop and the culture. He tells me, as we sit with a plate of amagwinya and coffee in between us, that people don’t understand how motivating hip-hop is.

That there’s so much to learn from it apart from the lyrics about sex, popping bottles, money, drugs and sexualising women.

‘For me givin’ up’s way harder than tryin’,’ he quotes from Kanye West, and for clarity, this is the old Kanye from the song ‘Champion’ off of Graduation.

This is one of the lines that motivated him. He is so passionate that he was a station director for a radio station that never came to be. But resilience is the hallmark of his journey to success. One of the attributes that led him to his newest gig at MetroFM.

This multifaceted artist, unlike your favourite rappers, is as humble as you can imagine. He gives you his true self, in-between the bromance greetings he gives his industry pals, who keep walking in and I made a mental note that this was the hang spot for the city’s cool kids in the industry.

The disc jockey turned television presenter following a stint on talent search show, Presenter Search on 3, has come to find that radio and television are not so different from each other.

‘I’d say television is more expressive because people can see you but radio is theatre of the mind. People can draw their own image of what they’re hearing and experiencing on the radio.’

This is everything he allowed us to uncover about him.

 

GQ: Before we talk about the new gig, why the name The Tall Wonder, where does it come from?

Kyeezi: Growing up I was tall and skinny, I still am actually, but people used to make fun of me. People don’t notice but I have these wide ears [Pulls ears even wider]. Don’t laugh [he motions me to stop.]

GQ: It’s kinda hard not to when you’re pulling your ears even wider. But carry on, sorry.

Kyeezi: You know, kids in primary and high school used to make fun of me. They used to call me a gherkin and used to make a sound whenever I came around. But as I grew older, I decided I am going to own my height and my thin nature. [and so The Tall Wonder was born.]

GQ: Let’s talk about your new gig on MetroFM, The Cruise Control show. When did you get the call and what were you feeling?

Kyeezi: I got the call three minutes after I finished my show On The Grind. It was three minutes past four. I reached out to MetroFM about two years ago. I literally chased the station and programming manager with my demo at the airport in my gym clothes. They heard the demo and a couple of months went by. I kept checking in with them and always with something new. It was my way of availing myself. And I get to Johannesburg and I’m told I’ll be working with PH. Bear in mind, he is one of the best DJs in the country. I grew up listening to PH and he is a homie of mine. Even before this gig, I could always hit him up. So, this deal felt like it was tailor-made for me. I couldn’t believe it. I’m still dealing with it.

GQ: You’ve been shuffling around radio slots for quite a bit, but which one speaks to you who you are as a person?

Kyeezi: Put a microphone in front of me, I’ll do any slot. I’m capable. I don’t believe I’m boxed in. Radio is about engaging your viewers and I can talk about anything.

GQ: Some of us were introduced to you when you auditioned for Presenter Search on 3. But where did it all start for you?

Kyeezi: I don’t even know where it all started.

GQ: Yeah? How come?

Kyeezi: In high school and varsity I was emceeing events. I also tried to start a radio station but it never came to be. But I wasn’t aware that I was starting. It wasn’t until I did the very first MTV VJ Search that I saw everything. I saw Sizwe Dhlomo, HHP, Azania and all these people. That’s when the penny dropped and I was like, “I think I can do this”. Three months after that, I quit my corporate job and worked at UCT Radio and started this radio show that became huge called Bread and Butter. I was playing music that no one was playing, covering artists that no one was covering. I was putting out hip-hop content that no one was touching, [as a result] Bread and Butter became a space for young people who wanted to do different stuff. It was a place that I’ve always wanted to see myself in. I was very passionate. All the other skills started to come into play as well. So, the passion to connect people to the music and the culture was definitely a driving force, the foundation.

GQ: You then made it to top 5 on Presenter Search On 3 and fast-forward a few years later, you made guest judge on the show. Was there anything that you wished the candidates would have done differently to what you did when you auditioned?

Kyeezi: Can I tell you something? When I go to auditions my number one intention is to first try and get that gig and most importantly, I always want to leave knowing that I gave you, me to the best of my ability for where I’m at. I don’t think I wanted any of them to do anything different but I wanted them to walk away having known that they gave the judges who they are to the best of their abilities. People don’t want to see a finished product, they love to see the development and the journey of a person growing and getting better.

GQ: Let’s move on to emceeing. What have you learned about emceeing and about yourself as an emcee?

Kyeezi: It’s not about the emceeing, or the dj-ing. It’s about the people having a good time. I’ve learned to pick my moments. I know when to be on stage and when people need energy. Entertainment is not about us. It’s about the people. For me entertaining is about making sure you’re having a good time, forgetting stresses from the week and building memorable moments that you will carry with you for life. Most importantly, know when to make your exit.

Cape Town International Jazz Fest 2018 📸 @mpumelelomacu #BeGreat

A post shared by Khanya Kyeezi Siyengo (@kyeezi) on

GQ: Let’s talk about what we’re currently doing. What I’m doing. From your point of view. You’ve interviewed so many big names thus far in your radio career, right? But what do you do to make sure it goes right and smooth?

Kyeezi: I humanise it from the onset. Every person that’s being interviewed has their checklist of things that they need to say but I think listeners, when they listen to their favourite artist or celebrity, they want to know the person behind the celebrity. We all have these personas beyond all that we’re individuals. So, I try to get to the human side.

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