XAPO BANK brings you stories of The Few: Part 4 of 4
Introducing Siya Metane, aka Slikour, award-winning hip-hop icon, accidental entrepreneur, author and trendsetter.
In this four-part series, Xapo Bank brings you the extraordinary journeys of The Few. Four South African changemakers share their stories of quiet revolution, purpose and impact beyond their own realms and limitations. For The Few, vision is the key to new possibility.
Slikour shares the highs and lows of his illustrious, boundary-breaking career.
A boy with big dreams and slick hair
Siya came from Zulu and Shangaan heritage and grew up in Leondale, east of Johannesburg. “It was a hub of progression and excitement. Lots of artists recorded there. There was basketball and rap. We were a bunch of young guys who were inspired by the world.”
His nickname Slikour originated on the basketball court, when he was a little boy who was self-conscious about the fact that his parents wouldn’t send him for a salon haircut. “I was doing my own little S curls at home with a little comb and some pomade. The hair curled on top but it was slick on the sides, so the guys started calling me ‘Slick’ and it grew from there,” he says, smiling. Today he’s still touched that his industry name came from the community.
“You know, that was at a time when I dreamed that I would be something one day, and I still think I’ll be somebody someday,” he says with a wry smile. So what made him believe he could be special? “I used to see things that other people had that I didn’t have and I would wish that I had it. And then one day I thought to myself, maybe I have something special too. That was where the journey of discovery started, of what I do have, what I can do. What those ingredients are inside of you.”
Even though he was always the smallest and got teased, he had strong opinions. His Standard 9 (Grade 11) teacher once advised him that he might be able to become a prefect if he could just learn to keep his mouth shut more often.
But for Siya, that was not to be. His destiny was to become a highly vocal hip-hop artist and entrepreneur, with strong beliefs on why we exist and our place in the universe.
Click here to watch the full episode.
Our place in the world
Siya’s philosophy is that in all situations – whether it be your teenaged or adult years, in marriage or divorce, or in parenting – there are things you have inside of you that make you feel the pain of the things you are going through and that help you to overcome the things you are going through.
“Whenever life gets tough, it’s a reminder from God that you’re not a sacred cow, you still need to work hard to be alive in this world. Being alive is not for free.”
Siya believes when you strip away wealth or possessions, all people can essentially be judged on what they are adding or contributing to the world. “If you’re not adding value, you’re a spectator. You can contribute as a leader, or you can add value. Even if you don’t have the skills, you can add the vision. Think of Steve Jobs – he didn’t build computers himself but he had the vision for Apple. Ideas are just as important as the things that already exist in the world.”
“The mind will accept literally anything. If you tell it it’s small, it will believe that. The person that’s telling you you’re small, is probably smaller, and they were probably also made to feel that way,” says Siya.
Gratitude to formative caregivers
“I’ve always had very nurturing, caring women in my life. I’ve never heard my mother or my sister curse, let alone my cousin. If I spent time with them, the core thing in my family was love. What bothers me about today’s world is that it’s often without love.”
Siya’s father was a taxi driver who was involved in their lives in an “old school dad kind of way”, changing his nappies when he was a baby but not being around every day of his childhood. Later on, when Siya wanted to start asking his father questions, he had already developed dementia. What he did know about his father, however, was that he grew up walking 30km to school and back every day. He also knew that he too wanted to be a father who changed nappies. “As a father, I wanted to get involved hands on,” he says.
The privilege of giving back
For Siya, it was one of the great joys of his life to return to Leondale recently to donate kit to the local basketball team. They are all wearing his logo on their kit. Another special part of the experience was to show his son where he grew up, how hard he worked to get where he is, and to have his son witness how he is giving back to his community.
From xero(x) to hero
Siya was still working for Xerox as an engineer who fixed copiers when he shot to fame as part of hip-hop group Skwatta Camp. His father convinced him to invest the first R100 000 he ever made in buying a taxi. Five months later he bought his first car, but was hijacked. “That was my early journey of growth in terms of myself as a human being, versus the work I put out,” he says.
He views the Skwatta Camp group as the people God brought into his life so that he could “learn to crawl, then walk, then fly”. They were some of the first artists in the local industry to work with brands in 2005. He later got involved in the marketing world and media platforms. Through his platform business https://slikouronlife.co.za/ he became one of the early pioneers in terms of partnering with the music streaming platforms and allowing the music community to create and share their own stories and content. He also built a payment platform years before fintech platforms were a thing.
“I don’t build things based on trying to be bigger than this bank or that recording label. I just find gaps, because my people are suffering. SlikourOnLife is strangers, but love, at the same time.”
Growth is stepping out of comfort
For Siya, the ultimate path to growth is the willingness to step out of your comfort zone. Part of this for him is also “running away from the fantasy of success”.
“People start making mistakes when they get consumed by the fantasy of their own success. I want to be successful because I care about the impact it’s going to make, but I don’t care if people knew it was me that made the impact, or that it was something I created 20 years ago that is enabling artists today. I don’t care what people say about me after I’m dead. We’re supposed to give, release, forget.”
Part of the act of stepping out of a comfort zone, for Siya, is also to operate in the realm of creating businesses that do not exist yet. “When you fix things that don’t exist yet, you move with a lot of faith. I like bringing love to spaces where there was no love or building collaborations in spaces where people didn’t even see each other.” For Siya, creators operate in the realm of faith and newness.
“I can tell you, half the things I’ve done, I didn’t know what they were going to result in. Sometimes you have to do things that make people uncomfortable if you know there is a greater good in the end.”
Don’t miss the full four-part series The Few, brought to you by Xapo Bank. Four South African visionaries share their stories of wisdom, passion and purpose in their chosen industries, from music to art, fashion and technology. Click here to watch the full episode. DM
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