Dropping handsfree beats with the one-man-band

The trick to drumming is splitting your mind. Requiring a blend of intense concentration and raw instinct, the drummer sends her limbs around the kit on separate excursions aimed at a single point – the beat. The effect is animalistic. And even more impressive when performed with no hands. Or feet. Ntuthuko Majola needs only the tools of his vocal tract and organs of speech to form the percussion section of a band. His skill has earned the beatboxing phenomenon the nickname ‘Drumkit’.

But before turning into the one-man-band he is today Majola honed his musical ear through more conventional instruments. At school he sang in the choir and played the trumpet and trombone for the Northwood Brass Band and Durban Philharmonic Orchestra. Beatboxing played its role as a fun pastime – he’d drop beats for his brother to rap to when the two were at home. But the craft became more serious in 2008, when Majola won the Halls Free Your Voice Competition, securing him a recording deal with Ruff Records. Since then he’s been mixing it up with hip-hop’s best in a decade-long career that has seen him perform alongside the likes of Busta Rhymes, T-Pain and HHP.

Now an established name, Majola is focusing his efforts on generating a more positive name for his industry. He’s out to prove that hip-hop has the power to direct young people away from the threat of drugs and crime, and towards potential income. As an insider Majola knows just how difficult it is to make it as a professional, so he recommends aspiring artists seek out an education in their field to give them an edge. But while a firm foundation is important, the real art is discovered in the experimentation between bars.

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