Words by Azola Mona
It’s been quite the journey for Ndumiso Buthelezi aka “2LeeStark”- we first heard of this talent alongside Truey Donatello on their 2009 “We Run The Block” mixtape collaboration with Headhoncho. Their “B.OS.S” offering fired up the streets of Cape Town, and it was evident that big things were on the horizon for the duo. A few years and solo mixtapes offerings down the line, 2LeeStark is back like he never left. Following the 20th of January release of his first official single off his up and coming EP, 2LeeStark’s “OFF BOYZ” has been making and riding waves. The personification of taking it all the way to the top is what you can envision If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the energy of an OFF BOYZ performance. Fresh off a week of back to back performances and ambassadorship announcements- I took some time to kick it with 2LeeWho Baby. This is what the OFF BOY had to say…
Q: When did you start rapping and what made you fall in love with making music?
I started rapping from when I was a kid so yeah, we been putting these words together from the jump. I’ve been formally on the mic/stage since 2009. In terms of why I love music, my father is my inspiration. He had me on music since I was a baby. His CD collection is his pride and joy but my upbringing sonically.
Q: You’ve been in the game for quite a while, since your TNT days with Tru, can you give me a brief overview of your career thus far?
In a nutshell, A beautiful struggle. TNT was the first time I was on stage, doing what I love, so since then, I have been fighting the good fight for the music.
I have grown as an artist from stride to stride, and knocked on the door for about 8 years and we are now at the point where the music is reaching many places. It’s a beautiful thing to see come to fruition.
Q: Known to take things all the way to the top, tell me more about the OFF BOYZ. What/who are they, what do they do? And how did the name come about?
OFFBOYZ is our record label. It was started in frustration out of the fact that no one really gave me/my team a chance to shine. I was tired of waiting and hoping some major or one of the older heads in the game would take recognition of what I was doing in the industry.
The inspiration for this then comes through in the energy. We are always hungry to take it to the next level and that shows in the shows.
The name comes from this same ideology of taking control and running with everything you do. “Going off” is a slang term used in our circles as being overly hyped/excited. My character embodied this and I have always been super hyper active in general from the shows to the music.
So it was fitting to call the label “OFF BOYZ” because well, it’s self-explanatory, that’s what we are.
In terms of what we do, we are a strategic recording agency, dealing with artist management, creative artist strategies, visual communication studios and brand management.
Q: You’re pretty new in the mainstream market. And you’re making sure to solidify your spot from the onset. What’s your experience of the game been?
The love has been fantastic. I really appreciate all the support I have been getting. Special shout-outs to the DJ’s, who have honestly been the back bone of the rise of my sound to the mainstream market. Speedsta, PH, Ms Cosmo, MVD and DJ Capital deserve a particular special shout out for their support and drive in the growth of the OFF BOYZ movement and song but of course the whole community has been behind the growth. We only hope to push even further on this journey. We really are only starting to see my presence in the game. It is a long way to go, but I’m sure it will be super fun!
The media has also had a huge impact on my work and growth. Hype, Slikour on life and The Plug. The Street Word Is and V-Entertainment have been on the pulse of the OFF BOYZ movement, and that has been really dope!
Q: I’ve been following the journey on social media, and your EP is coming out soon, please tell me more about that? (How long you’ve been working on it? What’s it called? Tracklist? Etc.)
INSIDE SCOOOOP! I have been working on this EP for 8 years essentially. Having had two mixtape projects that I have done with artists, this solo project is one that I have been waiting for!
The name of the EP is titled “Public Service Announcement”. It will be between 7 – 11 tracks, we still deciding on the songs and still have a couple of features to round up on it so yeah.
This is basically my statement of intent in the game and my “coming out party” so to speak, so expect a lot of aggression and unapologetic drive/energy on the project. Probably project of the year if I may humbly say so myself.
Q: You have recently moved from a 9-5 to choosing to pursue your career full time. What influenced that decision and how are you finding it balancing your career, personal life & fatherhood?
My career has seen massive growth in strides since leaving work. I was allowed by the mother of my child and girlfriend to pursue this dream because she could see how badly I wanted this and that it was were my heart was.
It has been so hard for me though. I am nowhere near where I need to be and the flip side of the fun and “rap life” is the reality that hits every day to provide for my family and those around me.
Luckily, my team believes in me and I am so thankful for that. The support is incredible and the belief in me inspires me daily to do better and be better. From my family, OFF BOYZ, Until Until and my friends by extension, they have all really allowed me to back my dream and hopefully, one day, make my Daughter proud.
Q: What are your inspirations and who/what influences your sound?
My daughter is my biggest inspiration. I just want to do right by her. In terms of my influences, I listen to anything that sonically sounds good, so the inspiration really comes from all walks of music life. From drum and bass to 90’s rap, anything can influence the next song I make.
Q: You’ve recently been affiliated with Belaire Africa and announced as an ambassador for Edgars Active & Jabari, how did those collaborations come about?
Right time and right place more than anything. There is no formula to these things, I just think the right fit is happening with the right brands. I am very particular about how I strategically position my brand I think the portfolio of brand partners we have really reflect the 2Lee Stark brand in one way or another.
Q: What vision do you have for your career, what’s your 5 year plan?
I got a three album plan. For now, that three album plan is on course. I’m writing songs today that must tie in to the story of my musical journey in three albums time. So that’s the mind frame myself and the team are in you know. I don’t know if that will be in the next five years or not for this to be completed but yeah, that is the plan.
Q: Any new singles/ collaborations we can look out for in the near future?
Can’t let the cat out the bag but of course, expect the OFF BOYZ remix very soon, the OFF BOYZ music video and a SECOND music video will be out in the next month. And the EP is coming of course too.
Q: What are your thoughts on the current climate of the SA rap/hip hop industry?
It’s there for the taking and OFF BOYZ is putting it’s hand up. We hungry, we ready. Good luck to the competition.
For more updates on his appearances, and music release dates follow @2LeeStark