Dub Saved My Life: DJ Ital Steppa

‘This conscious music is like a positive affirmation’ Ital Steppa

But are you sure you are not confusing me with someone?

This was uttered by DJ Ital Steppa when he got a call from the online UK based Radio Station Real Roots Radio. The initial contact was made on Facebook and DJ Ital Steppa did not think much of it and he accepted the offer. It was not until he got the call and all the details were laid out, that he, Ital Steppa, an upcoming DJ from the township of Katlehong was sought out by the station manager himself, offering him a slot on the well established Real Roots Radio. A radio station that he listens to on the regular because it appeals to him and plays the type of music that he plays and enjoys and has basically molded his whole life around. It turns out that he was friends with both the scout and the station manager but had no clue that they were running tings. They have been following Ital Steppa also on Mixcloud and been listening to his mixes. What they heard is what they liked. A couple listens later they decided to offer Ital Steppa a slot on the radio. Everything set they did a test run and things did not run accordingly. Seven months later, DJ Ital stepped up and went live on Sunday at 15:00 SA time as scheduled.

Déjà vu – King Roots Soundsystem

Six years earlier Ital Stepa had a similar encounter when he was approached by one of South Africa’s prominent soundsystem King Roots International based in Gauteng. The owner of the soundsystem, King Roots, wrote to Ital Steppa on Facebook asking for his telephone number. Ital Steppa was a bit confused and excited at the same time, wondering what it was all about and had to wait for two days before the call came. King Roots explained to him that he was looking for DJ’s to play on his soundsystem and wanted Ital to step in and be the resident DJ alongside Mjava 45 (RIP). He could not believe his luck, and still confused as to why King Roots asked for him specifically, cos he was not popular nor playing with any sound of DJ’ing at events at that time. It turned out that King Roots had listened to Ital Steppas mixes online and was impressed with his selection. The experience he got on King Roots Soundsysem is immeasurable and really turned his life around. They played at Sundowner Bar on Thursdays to a very different crowd that Ital was used to, very different from the crowd in Katlehong Art Centre where King Roots used to hold sessions and Ital Steppa frequented. They played at Maboneng, a trendy gentrified area in Johannesburg on Saturdays and Sundays in the townships, mostly in the East Rand where Dub rules. They had the City to City Tour and one of Ital’s memorable event was the Soundsystem Culture in Afrika: 4 Soundsystem 1 arena: Kebra Ethiopia Sound, Gigs Pro Sound, Big Bad Sound and King Roots International. He started receiving unreleased songs which he would promote on his mixes, linking up with international artists and getting exposed to a world that he never imagined existed, let alone him being part of it.

‘King Roots built my career. Before that I was not taken seriously. Without him a lot of people would not have known Ital Steppa.’

DJ Ital Steppa

Trinity House

When Trinity House, a Rasta Business centre launched officially in 2017, DJ Ital Steppa was around and was familiar and close to its founders. Right from the early stages of planning, he had been informally part of the process, it then followed that he would be heavily involved with Trinity House when it finally took off. He is now part of Trinity House as show coordinator, senior resident DJ, advisor to the board and in any capacity that he can, to help build the House. There are many projects that he does with Trinity House. He worked on a Riddim for Trinity House, but because of time constraints and other difficulties, it looks like the Riddim will be shelved for now. Trinity House is also involved in a dub club movement, The movement has Selctors, Steppas from Vosloorus, Katlehong and Kwa Thema pushing dub vibes cos its music that they feel, they focus on dub and play for everyone, children, Elders and basically everybody.

I cannot talk about TrinityHouse and not mention the Dub Club Movement

DJ Ital Steppa

The Mixes

The Dubwise Mixtape is at Vol 8 now. The first mix: Dubwise Steppas Mix came out in 2018 opening up with Joshua Hales’ Battle Field followed by the dub version and one gets to be immediately transported to the townships of the East Rand where steppas set the pace and sound systems speakers buss out dub music and the vibes are just too nice.

The Dubwise mixes are divided into three categories: Dubwise Volumes, Deep Meditation, Roots and Dub Mix. All available on Ital Steppa Mixcloud page.

He also does the Trinity House Mixes and Artist Mixes. The Chantty Natural Tswanshall Reggae Mix which worked as a promotional mix for the then Chantty Natural event that was to take place at Trinity House.

Then there is the Hip Hop mixtape, paying homage to his origins, where his musical journey actually started, never imagining it taking a turn to Dub. Now Ital Steppa can confidently refer to himself as a Roots Rock Reggae and Dub specialist from Katlehong, a township in the east of Johannesburg fondly referred to as (B)east Rand, the home of Dub and Dub Steppas in Mzansi.

His first mixtape that he got involved in did not take off. It was in collaboration with The Alkebulan Dub System in a project called Words Over Dub: The Bantu Master tape. They released an album with same title and the then popular poet Afurakan voiced his poetry on some heavy Dub selection. The album was produced by Cyrus Beats under Beats from The East Label. The album had track titles like: Johustleburg, 21 Poem Salute, Blues for Madiba, Streets have Lips, Shallow Meditation.

Lebajoa Chalobe

Born in Lesotho in Leribe District, Lebajoa Chalobe grew up in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg. He studied at the University of Johannesburg and graduated with a National Diploma in Accounting. He is a father of 3 who was about to turn into an ordinary regular guy working 9 to 5, until he got acquinted with Dub. He was initially into underground conscious hip hop until one day he heard one of Mad Professors chune that tuned his ear to Dub. He frequented Katlehong Art Centre where King Sifiso The Dub Educator played some serious heavy Dub. Kebra Ethiopia Sound also had a huge influence on Ital Steppa. He cites Doc Inity, as his biggest inspiration who introduced him to a lot of new sounds. Today Lebajoa Chalobe from Leriba, is DJ Ital Steppa, a Dub Specialist from Katlehong. Thankful and appreciative of the love and support he gets from peers and Steppas alike. Dub truly turned his life around.

His advice to anyone out there is: ‘Get focused don’t get discouraged by negative people, accept criticism in a positive way. Do your thing you don’t know who might be watching. Do what you love and love what you do, one day you might get that call. Do your best all the time, stay positive stay conscious, earn your respect, Dont demand respect. Earn it through your works. – DJ Ital Steppa



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