Birth nameJabulani Hadebe
Born (1983-12-02) 2 December 1983 (age 38)
Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Singer
  • rapper
  • songwriter
  • actor
Years active2005–present
Musical career
Associated acts

Jabulani Hadebe (born 2 December 1983),[1][2] known professionally as Sjava, is a South African singer, rapper, and actor. He began his acting career in 2005, starring in several drama series and films including uGugu no Andile (2009).[3] He then rose to prominence on the drama series Zone 14, where he starred for three consecutive seasons. Sjava ventured into the music industry and signed to record label Ambitiouz Entertainment. He gained mainstream popularity after he was featured on Miss Pru's acclaimed song "Ameni" in 2015.

Sjava's debut album, Isina Muva (2016), introduced his experimental sound which fuses afrobeats, hip hop and contemporary R&B.[4] His second studio album, Umqhele, was released in 2018 to a critical acclaim. Umqhele, which continues with his fusion sound, grew his African-influenced image, and consolidated to other international regions (mainly in Africa). Before Umqhele, Sjava also released his debut EP, Umphako, in 2018.[5]

Life and career

Jabulani Hadebe was born in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, the son of Thandi Nkabinde (his mother).[6] He is of Hlubi ancestry.[7] Sjava has two older siblings, Sibusiso (his brother) and Sindy (his sister).[8]

Sjava started writing music at an early age. While at the age of ten, Sjava was in charge of writing original lyrics on songs for his all-boy isicathamiya group Abafana baseMpumalanga, while in primary school.[9] He then took composition of music a step further in high school, where he used to turn notes into songs, then teach them to his classmates.[10]


2016–2017: Beginnings and Isina Muva

Sjava's debut recording was a feature on DJ and producer Miss Pru's "Ameni".[11] The successful song also featured then-artists of record label Ambitiouz Entertainment; Emtee, Fifi Cooper, B3nchmarq, and Saudi – who is currently in the label.[12]

On 8 April 2016, he released his debut single as a solo artist, "Ekuseni".[13] He then released his debut album, Isina Muva on 22 July 2016.[14] Its title is derived from a Zulu idiom meaning "late bloomer".[15] Isina Muva was certified Gold by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) and Sjava celebrated by releasing a deluxe version of the album titled Isina Muva: Gold Deluxe[16][17] The album earned Sjava an award at the 23rd South African Music Awards for Best Produced Album.[18] It also won for a similar category at the 16th Metro FM Music Awards, and received four nominees: Best Afro Pop Album for Isina Muva, Best Male and Best New Artist.[19] Also in 2017, Sjava recorded the theme song for the Mzansi Magic drama telenovela Isithembiso, which premiered on 3 April 2017.[20]

2017– 2019: Umphako and Umqhele

The film Black Panther was accompanied by a soundtrack album curated by rapper Kendrick Lamar, which Sjava appeared on.[21] Sjava was featured on the song "Seasons", alongside rappers Mozzy and a TDE rapper Reason.[22] The album was nominated at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, making it his first nominee at the ceremony for his appearance.[23]

The lead single from Sjava's debut EP Umpakho, "Abangani" featuring Saudi and Emtee was released on 14 June 2018 accompanied by a video paying homage to their humble beginnings.[24][25] On 24 June 2018, Sjava earned a BET Award for Best New International Act at the 2018 event.[26] Umphako was released on 6 July 2018.[27] The four-track project atopped the iTunes local chart on its first day, and is described as Sjava asserting himself as an empathetic worker's champion.[28][29]

Sjava's second studio album Umqhele was released on 14 December 2018.[30] The album's lead single "Umama", was released seven days before the album was available.[31] "Umama" later spawned a version on the global music platform COLORS, where he was featured performing the song on 13 May 2019.[32] Umqhele atopped the iTunes local chart and received positive reviews from critics.[33]

On November 23, 2019, Sjava bagged Best Male Artist in Southern Africa award at 2019 All Africa Music Awards.[34]

On 26 May 2020, Sjava announced via social media that he has departed his label, Ambitiouz Entertainment. He expressed gratitude towards the label for giving him an "opportunity and platform when no one did".[35]

2020-present: 1020 Cartel, Umsebenzi EP

Following departure with Ambitiouz Entertainment, Sjava self signed to his record deal 1020 Cartel and released his Extended Play Umsebenzi on December 14, 2020.[36] The EP was certified with gold plaque.[37]


From 2005 to 2013, Sjava enrolled to acting. He appeared on several television shows; including Zone 14, Generations and Soul City and 7de Laan, uGugu and Andile, Isibaya. In August 2020, he landed on a small role on Uzalo[38] and eHostela Season 2.


Studio albums

List of studio albums, with selected information
Title Album details Certification
Isina Muva
RISA: Gold
  • Released: 14 December 2018
  • Label: Ambitiouz Entertainment
  • Formats: CD, Digital download

Extended plays

List of extended plays, with selected information
Title EP details
  • Released: 6 July 2018[39]
  • Label: Ambitiouz Entertainment
  • Formats: Digital download
  • Released: 4 December 2020
  • Label: 1020 Cartel
  • Formats: Digital download

Awards and nominations

Sjava awards and nominations
  1. ^ Certain award groups do not simply award one winner. They recognize several different recipients, have runners-up, and have third place. Since this is a specific recognition and is different from losing an award, runner-up mentions are considered wins in this award tally. For simplification and to avoid errors, each award in this list has been presumed to have had a prior nomination.

All Africa Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2021 Himself Best Male Artist in African Inspirational Music Pending [40]

Metro FM Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
Isina Muva
Best Male[41] Nominated
Best New Artist[41] Nominated
Best Afro Pop Album[41] Nominated
Best Produced Album[41][42][43][44][45] Won

South African Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
Isina Muva
Best Produced Album[46][47][48][49] Won
Album of the Year Won
Male Artist of the Year Nominated
Best Engineered Album of the Year Nominated
Best Afro Pop Album Won
Best Adult Contemporary Album Nominated

South African Traditional Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2021 Umsebenzi Best Male Artist/Group Pending [51]

DSTV Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
Rising Star[52][53][54][55] Won

BET Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
Best New International Act[56][57][58] Won


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  2. ^ "Sjava on Apple Music". applemusic. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  3. ^ "uGugu no Andile – Starring Cast". TVSA.
  4. ^ "Sjava – Biography & History". AllMusic.
  5. ^ "Sjava's Umphako EP is an emotion". Music in Africa.
  6. ^ "Sjava's mom sang his song Uthando on stage & everyone melted!". TimesLIVE.
  7. ^ "South Africans hail Sjava for displaying African pride with BET Awards outift". EWN.
  8. ^ "Mama's boy: Sjava and his mom's special relationship". DRUM – PressReader.
  9. ^ "MY LIFE IN WORDS". Bona – PressReader.
  10. ^ "Isina Muva liyabukwa". Mail & Guardian. 5 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Ameni (feat. Emtee, Saudi, Sjava, Fifi Cooper, A-Reece, mlindo de vocalist& B3nchMarq)". Apple Music.
  12. ^ "Artists who have left Ambitiouz Entertainment". ZAlebs.
  13. ^ "Sjava Drops A New Single Ekuseni". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Isina Muva by Sjava". iTunes Store. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  15. ^ "SPOTTED Sjava Isina Muva Album Launch". Zkhiphani. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  16. ^ "'ISINA MUVA' BY SJAVA GOES GOLD". HIP HOP NEWS HUB. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  17. ^ Keteyi, Oluthando. "Sjava's Album Goes Gold and Celebrates with a New Gold Deluxe Version". SA Breaking News. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  18. ^ "BREAKING NEWS: Sjava Wins Best Produced Album at the #SAMA23 for 'Isana Muva'". Hip Hop Hub.
  19. ^ "Sjava Details Why He Didn't Go To Receive His Metro Award On Stage". SA Hip Hop Mag. 8 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Isithembiso". TVSA.
  21. ^ "Every South African Artist Featured on 'Black Panther The Album'". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Watch "Sjava on "Seasons" f/ Mozzy & Reason" posted by Ebro Darden". Apple Music.
  23. ^ "Kwesta On Sjava, Saudi & Yugen's Assists On A Grammy Nominated Album". SA Hip Hop Mag. 11 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Abangani (feat. Emtee & Saudi) – Single by Sjava". Apple Music.
  25. ^ "NEW: Sjava Goes Back To Basics In New Video For Abangani". Zkhipani. 18 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Sjava Wins at BET Awards 2018". COSMOPOLITAN South Africa.
  27. ^ "Listen to Sjava's New EP 'Umphako'". OkayAfrica. 6 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Listen to Sjava's New EP 'Umphako'". SA Hip Hop Mag. 6 July 2018.
  29. ^ "Sjava – Umphako EP". Bimba.
  30. ^ "Latest songs in South Africa this week: Sjava releases Umqhele". The South African. 14 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Sjava shows love and appreciation to his mother in 'Umama' video". YoMZansi. 3 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Sjava – Umama". COLORXSTUDIOS.
  33. ^ "Sjava's 'Umqhele' comfortably sitting at the top of SA digital album charts". EWN.
  34. ^ "All the 2019 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) winners". Biz Community. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  35. ^ Sjava indlalifa [@Sjava_atm] (26 May 2020). "Statement by Sjava: Sjava departs Ambitiouz" (Tweet). Retrieved 26 May 2020 – via Twitter.
  36. ^ "Sjava aims for stars with new label - SowetanLIVE". Sowetan LIVE. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  37. ^ Adejoy. "Sjava celebrates "Umsebenzi" EP gold status with a deluxe | Fakaza News". Fakaza News. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Sjava joins 'Uzalo'". Independent Online. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  39. ^ "Umphako – EP by Sjava on Apple Music". iTunes Store. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  40. ^ Odunsi, Wale. "AFRIMA 2021: Blaq Diamond, Focalistic, Wizkid lead nominations - Daily Post Nigeria". Daily Post Nigeria. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  41. ^ a b c d "Metro FM Music Awards: Full list of nominees". channel24. The Juice. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  42. ^ "FULL LIST: Metro FM Award winners 2017". channel24. The Juice. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  43. ^ "16th Metro FM Awards 2017 ( Full List of Winners)". Youth Village. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  44. ^ "WINNERS: 16th Metro FM Music Awards #MMA16". YoMzansi. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  45. ^ "All the 2017 SAMA winners, revealed". Glamour. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  46. ^ Canham, Tamlyn. "#SAMA23: Full list of nominees". EastCoastRadio. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  47. ^ "Here are all the 2017 Sama winners". channel24. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  48. ^ "This Just In: All The Winners At The 2017 SAMAs". Marie Claire. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  49. ^ "SAMA23 Winners". South African Music Awards. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  50. ^ "Sjava Reacts To Winning South African Music Awards #SAMA25". Zkhipani.
  51. ^ Adejoy. "Full list of SATMA 2021 nominees | Fakaza News". Fakaza News. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  52. ^ "Everything you need to know about the Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards". Channel24. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  53. ^ "Who Won What And Who Wore What at the Inaugural DSTV Viewers' Choice Awards 2017". Marie Claire. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  54. ^ "Who won what at the DStv Viewer's Choice Awards". IOL. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  55. ^ "Here are all the Winners from DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards". YoMzansi. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  56. ^
  57. ^ "WATCH: Sjava wins BET Award and his acceptance speech was epic". Archived from the original on 25 June 2018.
  58. ^