“Well our journey will never fully be the same but I will say trust God with the process…”
Zamokwakhe Charles Mpanza popularly known as Chealex Mpanza is an artist in every sense of the word. Born and bred in Eshowe, Kwa-Zulu Natal.
He is a jack-of-all-trades and definitely a master of everything. We stan a multitalented king! He is a rapper, songwriter, scriptwriter, actor and director. Chealex Mpanza was that smart child who was able to sing every song and advert on radio.
Mpanza’s childhood was not smooth sailing at all. Growing up in a home witnessing his father abuse his mother affected him negatively, after his parents’ separation he became his father’s victim too.
His father was a karate sensei and would wrongly use his skills to kick him even in public, thus leading to Chealax’s bubbly character and confidence slowly disappearing as other kids started to mock him.
When asked what kept him going during that unfortunate period in his life the star said… “It was God to be honest. I have strong faith in God that everything I went through won’t be in vain, He’s preparing me for a great purpose.”
Chealex Mpanza then began to bully other kids and later got involved in crime. His mother came to his rescue by moving him to another town where he realized his love for music.
“It was funny how I realized that. I was a big fan of Shaggy’s My Angel song and always sang it at school but with my own lyrics because I didn’t know the actual lyrics. Some girls asked me to write them the lyrics of the song and I wrote my own and days later half of the ladies at school were singing those lyrics like they were original and that’s when I realized I have something to offer in the music space.”
Chealax lived with his aunt at the time who was not happy with him doing music as she associated it with crime, therefore sent him back to his hometown, Eshowe where he escaped and went to Durban thinking he would stay with his friends who were also in the music industry, unfortunately that plan didn’t materialise.
A local criminal rescued Mpanza. He was a drug abuser who gave him a place to rent for R10.00 a bed per night and that lasted for two weeks as he ran out of money for rental. This then led to him living on the street and in unfinished buildings, until a Good Samaritan saved him.
Mpanza has survived many incidents in his life, both personally and musically. However, he is adamant that giving up was never an option.
“I held on for far too long that giving up never made sense in my mind because there will be no difference between someone who gave up back then and me who gave up now, truth is we all gave up”.
Mpanza’s fighting spirit is quite admirable. He is resilient and a living testament of the notion – hard work does pay off.
Being an artist is not for the faint hearted and this is especially true in Mpaza’s journey to the top. He has survived a lot of unfortunate events including being called up to Johannesburg under false promises that he’d be signed by Ghetto Ruff with a music group he was part of at the time, only to be robbed of R900 that was apparently for studio booking.
The other group members went back to their respective homes and Chealax was to stay on the streets for the next six months until rescued by a woman who was involved in crime such as robbery who was later arrested. Mpanza was shot in 2007 and that was his wake up call and has been active in the music industry since 2007.
Chealex Mpanza took us back to the day he got shot.
“One of my homeboys had a fight outside of our flat and he came to me running to inform me and I went out without thinking and not knowing I was the target. When I got there the guys wanted to fight me and I fought back and started beating them up and two guys said we are coming back and it was less than a minute and all I had was shots fired – I didn’t run away thinking it’s police breaking the fight kanti they were shooting at me. More than 10 bullets were fired at me but only one bullet was able to get me and two more people got shot in that incident. I still thank God to this day that I survived it”, Mpanza said.
In 2016 he finally got his well-deserved big break in the music industry. His music got play listed on major radio stations like Yfm, Capricorn FM, Rise FM, Thetha FM and Tru FM with a single called Uzwile.
When SA POSITIVE NEWS asked him about his debut single “Uzwile” the talented star had this to say… “Yo that song gave me a hard time writing it. The inspiration came to mind when the news of my staying in the street reached my hometown Ntuzuma and I wrote it to inspire myself to rise above that negativity. It became a prophecy because I started experiencing success after it came out. I was super stunted to hear it on radio and how far it went.”
2016 was really a monumental year for Mpanza, a defining moment in his career. It was definitely his season to shine. His love for music plunged deeper and his music skills were honed.
Mid 2016 he released his second single called That’s Me which won him the highly acclaimed Slikour On Life underdog competition and went number 1 on The Stir Up 5 FM by Ms Cosmo. The song also got play listed on a number of major stations and it even got him his first TV appearance on Etv Hip Hop Shiz Live.
“All Glory to God with that. I was trying all I can to push and try to copy the PRs strategy since I could not afford one and when I got that Shiz Niz call I broke into tears of disbelief that we actually did it. It still feels like a dream that a song I wrote in a park not expecting much would go that far.”
Mpanza has international stardom aspirations. He would love to collaborate with some of the finest local and international acts such as Zonke, Lira, Shekinah, Simmy, Pharrell, Kanye West, J Cole and KDot.
Answering the question, “Where is your career heading? What’s your vision? The multifaceted star had this to say…
“International standard most definitely. It is to mentally equip the fatherless child and street kids to be street graduates and make them view themselves better than what the world sees them and that they have a lot to offer in life with the street lesson.”
Mpanza is currently working on new music even though He is not sure yet if it is a project or what. He is directing many music videos and planning to tap into the filming industry hard to hone his script writing skills.
His message to young and upcoming musicians who would like to follow in his footsteps is crystal clear.
“Well our journey will never fully be the same but I will say trust God with the process”, he concluded.
Chealex Mpanza’s story is so inspiring. It’s a story of a young man who against all odds fought long and hard, making sure that all his dreams become a reality.
SA POSITIVE NEWS wishes Chealex Mpanza all the best in his future endeavours.
By Sinenzolo Mondi – Nduku