Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music Africa finale is happening in Joburg: Here’s everything you need to know

Johannesburg – On Friday, Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music announced Johannesburg, South Africa as the final stop for True Music Africa, a four-city tour that unearths pioneering talent and their stories of hustling through the underground music scene to do it for themselves.

A first for Boiler Room and Ballantine’s, the inaugural True Music Africa has toured South Africa, Cameroon and Kenya.

It’s given a platform to some of the freshest talent the continent has to offer, broadcasting their performances to an audience of more than 10 million around the world, and sharing the artists’ insights and experiences of the local music scene via a compelling documentary series.


The finale in Johannesburg will bring together an impressive line-up of local house and gqom artists for a very special night in a secret location. In the last year, gqom has been disrupting the underground electronic music scene across Europe, and house music in its many regional variants has long been a mainstay for South Africa’s music minded youth.

The show on Thursday, 21 June will broadcast some of the most exciting artists from South Africa’s influential scene, including:

DJ Maphorisa
Moonchild Sanelly
Da Capo 
Uncle Partytime

The tour will culminate with the first True Music Africa Forum, a space for the continent’s music community to learn, exchange and build new ideas through panel discussions, a keynote conversation and performances on 20 June. 


British grime artist Skepta’s manager (and also a second-generation Nigerian), Grace Ladoja will kick off proceedings with a keynote discussion. 

South Africa’s biggest city will play host to some of the industry’s most respected names, who will take part in discussions across two panels:

Tech & Culture - Featuring Kenyan True Music artist, Muthoni Drummer Queen, Phenda Kuta (founder of youth culture magazine, Unlabelled) and Sabelo Mkhabela (OkayAfrica). They will discuss questions around how the digital age is helping Africa’s creatives to innovate

Club Culture in Africa – Featuring journalist Boni Mnisi (This is What Makes Us Girls), Johannesburg based DJ, Doowap (YFM), Kenny Nzama (DJ Kenzhero) and Theresho Selesho (Matchbox Live CEO). This panel will explore how evolving club cultures and new genres are challenging the typical venue set-up.

The Forum will also see performances from Doowap and the Tembisa based dance crew, Indigenous Dance Academy. 

All True Music Africa Forum panels will be live streamed here

Boiler Room and Ballantine’s are committed to supporting and celebrating uncompromising artists who do it ‘their way’. With their True Music platform, the partnership champions artists with a pioneering spirit and challenges them to continue pushing boundaries.

Ahead of the monumental event Tom Elton, Head of Music at Ballantine’s, answered some questions about the event, how it come about and much more. 


Tell us about the concept behind True Music Africa?

True Music Africa is a partnership between Boiler Room and Ballantine’s that supports uncompromising artists that ‘Stay True’ to their sound. We celebrate the pioneering spirit of artists and motivate them to keep pushing the boundaries regardless of the challenges they may face.

Boiler Room has toured South Africa, Cameroon and Kenya. Why was Joburg chosen to host the tour finale?

As with all the African countries we have toured, South Africa has a special place in our hearts. We started the True Music Africa tour in South Africa, so it just made sense to bring the finale show back to Johannesburg. What’s more, Johannesburg was one of the first cities True Music ever toured, so it’s a nice synergy for us. We have really pulled out all the stops for this show, it will be an experience not to be missed!

Why does Boiler Room and Ballantine’s partnership work so well?

There are heaps of reasons why this partnership works so well, but the key reason is because Boiler Room is so unique and fits our Ballantine’s brand ethos of ‘Stay True’ seamlessly. From the beginning, both Boiler Room and Ballantine’s have shared the same vision. The vision is to explore music scenes across the continent, dismantling geographic privilege and showcasing raw uncompromising talent that share no bounds. We believe in the creative ambition of artists that do things their way, the DIY spirit.

Plus we get to be real partners in the process – this is a true collaboration with a long-term vision; our partnership with Boiler Room is not simply a badging sponsorship, that would never work for Ballantine’s our fans would see right through it.

The tour will also include a True Music Africa Forum on the 20 June. What can we expect from these discussions? And why are they so important to have to enrich the music industry.

We are extremely amped to host the first ever True Music Africa forum. This space will provide Africa’s music community a platform to learn and exchange new ideas through panel discussions and talks from the people leading the charge in the scene. We have some of the industry’s most respected individuals and key opinion leaders including Phenda Kuta, Boni Mnisi and Theresho Selesho to name a few – they’ll be taking the stage with British grime artist Skepta’s manager, Grace Ladoja, will kick off proceedings with a keynote discussion. It’s going to be epic. 

We are so passionate about the forum because it not only champions and gives voice to a great roster of local talent, it puts them side by side industry leaders and gives them a platform to be heard by music fans around the world, through our live stream.

Both BR and Ballantine’s are committed to supporting local artists who do it their way – Talk to us about some of the South African talent that have performed thus far?

There are way too many highlights to mention. Most recent is obviously the Cape Town event we hosted last year. The focus on that show was hip-hop, so home-grown talent such as Youngsta CPT gave us a performance that had everyone wanting more. We also introduced gqom music from Aux Womdantso. His sound and the energy in the room epitomised what True Music Africa stands for. This year gqom and house will take centre stage so hold on to your hats.

Most important, how can people get tickets?

Head to for more information and keep up with all social conversations by following the hashtag #TrueMusicAfrica.


Cape Town: A Right to Shine

Douala: Ready for the World

Nairobi: The New Narrative

The Johannesburg documentary will be released at the end of June.

Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music Africa in Johannesburg is happening on Wednesday 20 June and Thursday 21 June. Tune in here to watch the broadcast live.