Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo is a legend in the South African music scene. Known by the stage name Black Coffee, he is a DJ and music producer, easily Africa’s most prominent electronic music producer. In the past few years, he’s gained a lot of international attention. He has collaborated with artists like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Diddy, Akon, and Drake.
Black Coffee was born in Umtata, the hometown of Nelson Mandela. On the same day that Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the 14-year-old was in a car accident that resulted in a serious injury. He lost all use of his left arm, a permanent injury that changed the course of his life. Until this year, he took many pains to hide the injury because of his insecurities. Although the injury initially made him think of giving up his dreams of making music, it ultimately gave him a new level of drive and focus.
That drive has certainly paid off. He’s put out seven albums since 2005. He has also won a number of awards, including SAMA Best Dance Album in 2013 and 2016, BET Award for Best International Act: Africa in 2016, and DJ Awards Best Deep House DJ in 2017. As a DJ, he’s performed all around the world, including a headline spot at Coachella in 2016. Black Coffee was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for playing the longest ever DJ set of an astounding 60 hours. His style is unique in the realm of electronic music because of the South African flair and jazz influences that permeate his sound. It’s this unique sound that makes him such a hot ticket, with artists like Jay Z eager to work with him.
For Black Coffee, music is more than just music. “Music is the ultimate answer to a lot of things,” he says. He sees it as a great connector with the power to change lives for the better. The DJ is also changing lives for the better with his foundation, the Black Coffee Foundation. Inspired in part by his car accident, the foundation strives to give back to deserving people in need in South Africa, especially people with disabilities, orphans, and youth. When he’s not jet-setting around the world or creating tracks in the studio, he prefers a quiet night at home. “Most of the time I forget I’m Black Coffee,” the producer told IOL. As a husband and father, a movie night at home with the family is far preferable over a night out at the club.