We chat with former Disneyland performer, Fenty Beauty model and Afrobeat artist Londiwe Ngubeni (aka MsLolo) about her latest album and most meaningful milestones, and where to go for live music in Hong Kong
South African-born Londiwe Ngubeni, better known by her stage name MsLolo, has made a name for herself in Hong Kong, the city where she found her footing as a solo artist and shares her love for Afrobeat culture. You may have caught her opening the “Festival of the Lion King” show as Rafiki in Disneyland Hong Kong a few years back, modelling for Fenty Beauty or even performing live at a local club. At the end of 2021, she released her debut album, “A Different Breed”, which features a fusion of authentic Afrobeat music with Asian influences.
Ahead, we chat with Londiwe for our 10 questions, covering everything from her experience working as a performer at Disneyland to how she found success in Hong Kong and where she likes to listen to live music.
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Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born into a big Christian family in Durban, South Africa. I moved to Hong Kong a few years ago when I was cast to play Rafiki in Disneyland Hong Kong’s “Festival of the Lion King” show in 2008. I later started working on my music career in 2017 and have been performing in local clubs and events since; I recently launched my Afrobeat album. My first love is music but entertaining is my passion. I was born into a musical family so music has always been a part of my life. I cannot remember a time in my life when music was not a part of me, so I can really say that music chose me! All I did was fall in love.
Can you tell us more about your music? What encouraged you to become a singer?
After spending some time in Hong Kong, I noticed that Afrobeat was becoming a more well-known music genre here. I identified this through dance when I realised that there are so many talented dancers who would incorporate the Afrobeat rhythm and culture into their performances. I later started my own research and study around Afrobeat, particularly on how it had grown into a global sound enjoyed by a multicultural audience.
The sound originates from West Africa, particularly Nigeria. It’s a style mixed with West African and American jazz plus a bit of funk and soul. I’m excited to share my new album, titled “A Different Breed”, [with] 10 Afrobeat tracks on it all sung in English, and have already started introducing it on some South African radio stations. I plan to continue pushing it in Hong Kong and in other countries. I believe that anyone can relate to the lyrics and stories I share; more than anything, the beats are vibey and fun to dance to.
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How has your experience working in Hong Kong as a creative professional been so far?
Hong Kong is where I felt like my career was being solidified. It has given me an opportunity to create something unique and express, or exchange, the vibrant heritage of Africa. But it is challenging to start something new, and I also enjoy that I am a commodity.
What was your favourite part about being a performer at Disneyland?
More than anything, I enjoy sharing a stage with people from different parts of the world and learning about different cultures. Disneyland Hong Kong has the most talented performers, and I enjoyed meeting new people and creating friendships.
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Can you share your most meaningful milestone?
It was when I decided to launch my solo career and produce my own album written by myself. It’s always been my dream.
What do you do in your downtime?
Because my life is almost like a party — when I am not out and about, I enjoy quiet time at home listening to music and watching movies. I especially love having long phone and video calls with my family.
Juggling singing, acting and modelling, what are three things you do to maintain work-life balance in your day-to-day?
It is not as hectic as it sounds, but keeping a good old schedule helps a lot to make sure I am not overwhelmed by work or overbooked.
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What are five goals you have for this year?
I think setting goals sometimes puts pressure on us as human beings. I just take life as it goes. I wake up every morning with the mindset of achieving something on that day, big or small. I work and put the effort that I can into everything I do. I do, however, plan to also have fun, exploring more of the Hong Kong culture and people, sharing my music, and creating strong and happy relationships as I go along.
Where do you like to go for live music in Hong Kong?
I am usually busy when it is time for live music but if I am not working, I occasionally go to Foxglove where my friends play.
If you had one piece of advice to give to aspiring singers out there, what would it be?
Make music because you love and enjoy it. Do not make music because you want to become an overnight sensation. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful. It’s different for everyone. One can release one song and make it big but one needs to put more effort into understanding their environment, finding a unique gap, and working very hard before finding success.
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All images courtesy of Londiwe Ngubeni. Follow Londiwe on Instagram to see more.