When asked about his birth name all he is prepared to say is that his stage name was created out of his first name, Ayifani, which loosely translated means it is not the same.
That he holds an honours degree in computer engineering and tried his hand in geology before settling for a career in music sums up the kind of “cat” Ifani is.
He was born in Mthatha but raised in Port Elizabeth and educated at UCT. Before going into the music industry, Ifani worked for giant brewer SABMiller as a process control engineer and a software developer.
He has been in the game since 2005 but only became a success in 2010. The 28-year-old rapper incorporates Xhosa and Tswana into his offbeat rhymes.
He has now signed with Sony Music and his debut album titled I Believes In Me, featuring artists such as Bongani Fassie, Kelle and Nomsa J, will hit the shelves on April 29.
He already has four singles – Ewe, See Live, Shake and Chocolate and Vanilla, featuring Blaksuga. Chocolate and Vanilla has made it to number one on 5FM and YFM.
He says he wrote Ewe – meaning “yes” in Xhosa – as an outrage to the entertainment industry that rejected his demo before he made it big.
“Ewe is me venting. Every time I submitted a track, they said ‘no’, saying my sound was monotonous. I thought to myself, ‘A yes will come one day’. I was a pest until they stopped rejecting my music,” he laughs.
His flow is fresh and he says it is inspired by a lack of acknowledgement during his upbringing.
“I decided to be myself in music generally because I never fit in with others. I was discriminated against because I was born into poverty. People did not want to associate with me – the scruffy poor kid. In that environment, your imagination grows because you want to be something,” Ifani says. “Everything that happened in my life turned into music.”
Although his music is personally driven, he likes to think of it as a fun sound. “My songs are not deep in a sense that they don’t talk about depressing issues.”
Talking about his latest single Shake, he says: “This song, as vibrant as it is, is a prayer. Underneath all the excitement there is a serious message.”
email@example.com; or Twitter @bongirand