Samthing Soweto
Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba

(1988-01-21) 21 January 1988 (age 33)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Musical career
Years active2010-present
Associated acts

Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba (born 21 January 1988), known professionally as Samthing Soweto, is a South African singer and songwriter.[1][2] He gained mainstream attention from his feature on record producer, Sun-El Musician's acclaimed song "Akanamali", released in 2017.

Following his departure of the group The Soil, Mdolomba released his debut album, This N That Without Tempo (2010), which fuses a capella and soul. He then departed from his debut album's sound as he introduced fusions of Afro pop, amapiano and R&B for his second album, Isphithiphithi (2019).

Life and career

Early life

Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba was born and raised in Protea North, Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, South Africa.[1] He is the third of four children, who were all raised by his single mother.[1] Mdolomba was moved to his grandmother in Eastern Cape, but was later moved back to Protea North caused by substandard issues.[1] In an interview with The Best T in The City, he said, "She [his mother] thought maybe an upbringing in the EC would benefit me but it didn’t. I lost weight, not that my granny wasn’t looking after me, I cried every day…it was too much for me so she came back after a year".[1]

Mdolomba left school in eighth grade as he had problems of dyslexia . In an interview on Metro FM, he stated, "School was really tough for me.[3] It was a nightmare but I went back nonetheless." At the age of 15, Mdolomba started using Mandrax, and was also involved in crime-related actions in order to escape difficulties he faced at home.[3] He was sent to a youth detention centre for armed robbery where he started making music full-time. This eventually helped him break out of the life of crime and drug addiction.[3]

The Soil

After being released from the youth detention centre and eventually returning back to school, Samthing Soweto began taking interest to a school choir.[4] The choir was led by Buhlebendalo Mda, who was later one of the vocalists of the a capella group The Soil.[4] While attending the choir's performance, Mdolomba wanted to start a group [The Soil], describing it as: "A group that sings songs, songs that we can afford to sing. And I say afford, because everything out there was programmed or played with instruments and we couldn't afford that, so I was like let's use our voices".[4]

After the formation of The Soil, the group met the head of the entertainment company, Native Rhythms, Sipho Sithole who was keen on signing them to his label.[4] After signing and beginning their first project, Mdolomba began learning how to produce music and released his debut solo studio album, This N That Without Tempo, and also started making music with another band, The Fridge which is a nu jazz group.[4] Mdolomba left both parties due to contractual disputes and creative differences.[4]


Prior to meeting members of The Soil, Mdolomba was arrested for public robbery in Avalon cemetery at Klipriviersoog, Soweto.[5] His sentence was suspended and he was sent to a youth detention center in Krugersdorp, West Rand.[4] Mdolomba was encouraged to sing by his fellow inmates, who sang using a prison style of chanting called Gumba Fire, which includes singing Kwaito songs in a cappella format.[4] This became a major influence in him establishing the group The Soil, in terms of both working in a group, and using bare vocals as a musical instrument.[4] He also stated that the male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo had an influence on him in venturing to acapella.[6]

The Fridge

After leaving The Soil, Mdolomba continued with the nu jazz group, The Fridge. The band which consisted of a drummer, Ade Omotade, bassist Muthusi and Mdolomba as the vocalist, gained success in playing on local shows and festivals, including The Loft at Melville, Gauteng.[7] The group released their debut extended play, Bass Drum & Sam in 2011 through digital media.[8] The Fridge disbanded in 2015 due to two members of the trio relocating; Thusi and Ade.[8]

2010–present: Solo projects and Isphithiphiti

In 2013, Mdolomba appeared on poet Makhafula Vilakazi's South African poetry album, I Am Not Going Back To The Township, credited both as a guest vocalist and producer.[9] Following his debut studio album, This N That Without Tempo, which was independently released on 6 August 2010, Mdolomba released his debut EP Eb'suku, released on 4 January 2014.[10] In support of Eb'suku, Mdolomba headlined the annual internationally acclaimed Joy of Jazz Festival 2014, representing "Sounds Of Democracy".[11] He also performed at the Rocking The Daisies Festival held on 2–5 October 2014 at Cape Town, Western Cape.[12] That same year, he composed and performed the title sequence of the drama series Rhythm City, and also appeared on the soundtrack of the drama film Otelo Burning.[13][14]

In 2015, Mdolomba appeared on the Coca-Cola-sponsored live-music television series Coke Studio Africa, alongside artist Spoek Mathambo and bassist Shane Cooper.[15] In May 2017, Mdolomba made his superior breakthrough with his feature on producer Sun-El Musicians' acclaimed song, "Akanamali".[16] The song received South African Music Awards for Best Collaboration, SAMPRA highest airplay, and SAMRO highest airplay at the 24th South African Music Awards.[17]

Isphitiphithi, Mdolomba's second album was released on 20 September 2019.[18] The album broke the record of the highest number of users "pre-adding" the album on the streaming service, Apple Music South Africa, before the release of the album. The record was previously held by singer Billie Eilish.[19][20] He said, "I am surprised and excited, I didn't know there was another record to be broken, which is a great feat for me. I thank all my fans for being so supportive and loyal."[21] He released four singles for the album, including "Akulaleki" featuring BET Award winner Sha Sha which peaked number-one on the local Apple Music chart.[22]


Studio albums

List of albums, with selected details, sales figures and certifications
Title Album details Certifications
This N That Without Tempo


  1. ^ a b c d e "7 things you didn't know about Samthing Soweto". SowetanLIVE.
  2. ^ "Samthing Soweto". Incwajana.
  3. ^ a b c "Samthing Soweto details his struggles with reading and writing in school". TimesLIVE.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "SAMTHING DISHES OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SOIL FOR HIS FANS". Tha Bravado.
  5. ^ "Samthing Soweto says his community has forgiven him for his criminal past". TimesLIVE.
  6. ^ "Samthing Soweto talks about Isphithiphithi, childhood & music". Kaya FM.
  7. ^ Sbabe Khoza (2014-05-02), Samthing Soweto, retrieved 2016-04-27
  8. ^ a b "The Fridge | Design Indaba". Design Indaba. Retrieved 2016-04-27.
  9. ^ "Sharp turns on an angry road". Mail & Guardian.
  10. ^ "Eb'suku". Samthing Soweto.
  11. ^ "In Pictures: The Joy of Jazz". eNCA.
  12. ^ "Rocking the Daisies full line-up".
  13. ^ "Rhythm City's fresh new title sequence".
  14. ^ "Otelo Burning Mixtape". Akhona Ndungane.
  15. ^ "Folk meets House for a Culoe De Song on Coke Studio". Channel24.
  16. ^ "Listen Free to Sun-El Musician - Akanamali (feat. Samthing Soweto) Radio". iHeartRadio.
  17. ^ "Sun-El Musician, Joyous Celebration big winners at first night of Samas". SowetanLIVE.
  18. ^ "Listen to Samthing Soweto's Album 'Isiphithiphithi'". OkayAfrica.
  19. ^ "Samthing Soweto's Isphithiphithi Makes Apple Music History!". People Magazine.
  20. ^ "Local artist Samthing Soweto on what it's like to be top of Apple Music". East Coast Radio.
  21. ^ "'I'm surprised and excited!'". Daily Sun.
  22. ^ "Samthing Soweto Thought He Was Too Old for Chart Success. He Was Wrong". Rolling Stone.
  23. ^ "Isphithiphithi by Samthing Soweto". Apple. Retrieved 1 November 2019.