Muzikifi: the story behind South Africa’s top trending YouTube video

muzikifi south africa youtube video

South Africa’s most watched video on YouTube this week isn’t a movie trailer, a snapshot of Pretoria’s anti-Zuma protests, or even the latest episode of Skeem Saam.

Nope. It’s a mesmeric short of a man experiencing Soweto’s cultural and musical delights for the first time.

Random? Definitely. A remarkable watch? Oh yes.

“Did she REALLY put a spell on me?”>Did she REALLY put a spell on me? was published over the weekend and took South Africa’s YouTube charts by storm. It steamed to the top of the trending list within three days, and remained there for much of the week.

At present, the clip has over 100 000 views, and that number is steadily growing.

I was initially planning to write about the video’s random success as just that: a mere random success. But that’s not what we do at Memeburn.

Instead, we reached out to the man behind the video, simply known as Muzikifi, to better understand the clip sneaking its way into South Africans’ playlists.

Muzikifi’s eponymous channel is still young, blooming from a combination of failed promises and a love for content creation.

He initially planned a television show, he tells us, “but every time I went into a meeting, the idea for the show got dumber”.

“But it still, it sounded better than a real job. So I got to thinking…if they think I’m good enough to star in my own TV show, maybe I am. But why do I need them? I’m supposed to be on-camera, and they also want my ideas. All they’re doing it trying to dumb down my ideas to appeal to a television audience,” he adds.

He found comfort in the internet, and more specifically YouTube, as a place to cultivate, harvest and experiment with ideas.

This after a number of plans fell through, including a failed con which allowed him to travel to South Africa.

‘On YouTube, there’s always someone even weirder than you, who will ‘get it’

“Speaking of dumb, though, this inspired me to take a friend to a big television convention, where we pretended I was producing a TV show,” he explains.

“The trick is, all producers pretend, until they get a cheque from someone. So, it wasn’t just me. I met some equally imaginative people there, one of whom conned me into coming to South Africa, promising he’d give me a free filming crew, in exchange of a piece of my non-existent television show.

“It sounded like a good deal to me, but when I got to South Africa, it turned out there was no TV crew, anymore than I had a TV show.”

The situation was eventually “sorted”, and the resultant content will be used in future videos, Muzikifi tells us.

“[As] 90% of my own video watching is YouTube, I thought I’d start there, maybe get a bit of an audience, while being able to do weird things without anyone telling me I’m not allowed, or telling me their audience is too stupid to ‘get it’.

“Because, on YouTube, there’s always someone even weirder than you, who will ‘get it’.”

But what’s with the name?

“The name came about because an organisation wanted to turn my project into a VR thing. So I was just thinking of cool ‘life and music’ names,” he reveals.

“I remember making up some music on a piano, when my world was shattered by love problem, playing and playing away, and feeling within a few minutes that the world was put in a kind of order, and everything was okay,” he elaborates, explaining the musicality of his videos.

“In my darkest moments I’ve literally seen a golden light around me that made everything seem okay…I’ve thought I’ve seen this golden light with my eyes, I mean, not just felt something. I think music, at it’s best, touches this, or even brings it about. Puts you in touch with something beyond…above, outside.”

“Music can be a profound, and even helpful thing. But moreso [sic] if you actually participate in it.”

‘The name Muzikifi came about because an organisation wanted to turn my project into a VR thing’

This video doesn’t seem to be the last we’ll see of the enigmatic creator either.

Muzikifi explains he’ll be stuck editing content until June, but has a number of projects lined up, including a “a best selling 4 ½ Amazon star book that got a national television show about it” and a “ton of amazing video from musical adventures in several countries”.

But even with the sudden success in South Africa, he doesn’t quite foresee a career entirely vested in YouTube.

“[M]y purpose is to try to inspire people, with those very few ideas that I’m actually sure are important,” he notes.

“The world would be a much better place if more people thought this way, rather than thinking they’re ‘producing content’, which sounds like manufacturing toilet paper.”

Andy Walker, former editor


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