Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo (born 11 March 1976), better known by his stage name Black Coffee, is a South African DJ, record producer and singer-songwriter. He began his career around 1994 and has released five albums as well as a live DVD.
Black Coffee had his big break shortly after being chosen as a participant in the 2004 Red Bull Music Academy held in Cape Town. In September 2015, he won the “Breakthrough DJ of the Year” award at the DJ Awards in Ibiza, a few weeks after the release of his fifth studio album, Pieces of Me.
Nkosinathi was born on 11 March 1976 in Umlazi, South Africa. He later moved to Umtata, the hometown of late world icon Nelson Mandela, and grew up in Durban. He is the husband to the South African actress and TV presenter Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa Maphumulo. He studied in Zimele high school which is situated south of Umtata.
Maphumulo majored in Jazz Studies at Technikon Natal now Durban University of Technology before working as a backup singer for Madala Kunene together with then schoolmates: Mnqobi Mdabe (Shota) and Thandukwazi Sikhosana (Demor).
Black Coffee, Shota, and Demor later formed an Afro-pop trio called SHANA (Simply Hot and Naturally African) which was signed to Melt 2000, then headed by Robert Trunz. Black Coffee was chosen as one of two South African participants in the Red Bull Music Academy in 2003, jump-starting him into the South African dance music scene. His first big break was when his song ‘Happiness’ was featured on the DJs at Work album.
In 2005, he launched his career with a remix of Hugh Masekela’s 1972 hit Stimela. Later that year he released his self-titled debut album, Black Coffee’s wholly owned corporate structure, his team’s home base and the jump-off point for himself, and as time has evidenced for many others too.
The album featured collaborations with the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai, Hugh Masekela, Busi Mhlongo amongst a few. Black Coffee was well received in the SADC region.
His album, Black Coffee was created using the very basic music-making software. “I don’t know how to explain the production stages of my album because all I did was put down the basic ideas that I had, I didn’t use any MIDI controllers everything was played with a computer mouse”.
By 2007, Black Coffee had become a household name in the South African DJ scene, firing up floors with his tribally infectious, vocal-laced beats. In the same year he released his second studio album titled Have Another One which featured Wathula Nje —a remix of Victor Ntoni’s 2004 jazz ballad Thetha.
Wathula Nje was later released in Europe together with Even Though featuring Bantu Soul through a European label Realtone Records on vinyl and digitally. The twelve-track album featured the likes of Siphokazi, Busi Mhlongo, and Kwaito sensation L’vovo to mention a few, it also introduced a then 17-year-old high school producer from Eshowe Kwa Zulu Natal; Culoe De Song who became the second artiste to be signed under Soulistic Music.
Black Coffee discovered and collaborated with Culoe De Song on an Afro-electronic dub titled 100 Zulu warriors.
During this period Black Coffee was invited to perform at the Red Bull Music Academy Lounge at the Sonar Festival in Barcelona, where he played alongside recognized DJs, including Little Louie Vega, Alix Alvarez, Franck Roger, Charles Webster, DJ Spinna, and Osunlade.
In 2009, Black Coffee released his third album, Home Brewed featuring Ringo Madlingozi, Zonke, Hugh Masekela, Zakes Bantwini and others.
Between 2009 and 2010, new releases from Culoe de Song, Tumelo, and the great Zakes Bantwini achieved gold and platinum sales.
In 2010, Black Coffee was inducted in the Guinness Book of World Records when he DJed 60 hours non-stop at Maponya Mall. He also won two awards in the categories Best Urban Dance Album and Best Male Artist at the South African Music Awards 2010.
In 2011, Africa Rising was launched at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. It included a live band and 24-piece orchestra in front of an audience of 8,000 and was filmed for the Africa Rising DVD. 2011 saw four other releases including Culoe de Song’s Elevation, Sai & Ribatones Here and Now, Boddhi Satva’s Invocation and the label’s Soulistic Music Cuts.
In 2012, Africa Rising DVD and triple-CD sold double platinum in a space of a month. Black Coffee featured creative artistes on the album Africa Rising, such as Bucie and the soulful musician Toshi Tikolo on the international House hit “Buya”.
In 2013, he performed globally at locations such as Southport Weekender, Panoroma Bar, Circo Loco, Boiler Room. He participated in music conferences like ADE, and RBMA in Johannesburg. Amongst a few 2013 notable collaborations are with Mi Casa, and Black Motion.
He also became one of the key speakers on his friend Vusi Thembekwayo’s tour. He was featured in numerous publications. In South Africa, he was featured in November 2013 in the Destiny Man edition of Destiny (magazine).
After his world tour which started on 12 Jan 2015 at Circoloco near Shosholoza at Blue Parrot in Mexico, and ended on 31 Aug 2015 at Circoloco at DC-10, Black Coffee came back to his home country to release his 5th album, Pieces Of Me.
Pieces of Me was released on the second week of September and got criticism overnight for the cover and title identically to US singer “Ledisi”. Musically the album got a response from social media as well as charting on iTunes ZA with the song We Dance Again he featured Nakhane Toure topping charts by 30 September. On this album, Black Coffee worked with Azola, Portia Monique, Ribatone, Nakhane Toure, Mondli Ngcobo, Kensy, NaakMusiq & Lungi Naidoo.
In October 2015, Pieces of Me went platinum in South Africa.
In 2016, he performed at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Ultra Music Festival.
At the end of 2016 he was named 91st on Resident Advisor’s top 100 DJ’s list encompassing all professional DJ’s. In 2017 he contributed to the beat of the song Get It Together on Drake’s album More Life released in March 2017.
In 2018, he released a single in collaboration with David Guetta dubbed ‘Drive’ featuring Delilah Montagu. It is featured on Guetta’s upcoming album 7.