When Espacio Dios joins my table, at some faux Italian joint in Sandton, I’m startled to meet three beaming young men, so I cautiously enquire about the crew, if they have a collective name and so on, expecting a fun or corny comeback but I’m quickly placated by their humility and openness. Espacio’s manager, Zidaan Gutta, a mogul in the making, introduces himself and the artists, one Espacio Dios and his DJ, Leonardo Lobelo. In the time it takes me to interview Espacio, I learn how millennials are changing the face of entertainment to represent them and their experiences.
The 17 year old Espacio Dios has been musical for as long as he can remember and his passion for it is palpable. His music explores universal themes of love and kidulthood, in rap and rhyme and singing, all shaped by his boundless perspective on creativity and grounded in his excellent, esoteric production. Young yet composed and uncompromising, Espacio lives to make music that is relatable; in his songs Amelia and Feral, he tells his story of a young man in love and lust, and the music is honest and beautiful. Espacio expresses a range of emotion and experience, revealing his layers and lyricism over smooth spacey beats.
Backseat Galaxy, will be Espacio Dios’ debut EP. He describes it as him handing out stars from his world to ours. His career is about to go into overdrive and he hasn’t even finished high school. He is on the brink of a new life, maybe even a new world. So I tease him about seeing him in six months with gold chains and entourage but he balks at the thought, reminding me, ‘Not everyone relates to being rich’. The simplicity of the statement strikes a chord and confirms his sincerity, his determination to be authentic and honest. I wonder how he will change as his experiences and life takes him far from Mafikeng and his quiet upbringing.
And while the internet ruined the music industry financially, it also connects artists, offers platforms that loosen the grip of record companies and provides alternatives to the broadcast of heteronormative, hyper masculine, eurocentricity offered by mainstream media. It is a new world; where people can create and express and organise and connect. And those connections and creations are changing the world. Espacio Dios is a teenager from Mafikeng but a Space God online with a following stretching from Newtown to Nairobi to San Francisco. He is set to make a stellar contribution to South African music. Look out for his upcoming EP, Backseat Galaxy and cava his Soundcloud here.