Zar Simwanza, 24, features on a mix-tape by New York hip-hop DJ, DJ Greenlantern, and has had feedback from music legend Warren G.
His 17-year-old brother Michael Simwanza was fatally stabbed during a drugs deal in 2010, but Zar says he continues to inspire him in his music.
The South African said: “He was one of the people I would go to with my little raps, to see what he thought. He would always tell me to keep going with them so he really did influence me. Even now I can see him there, standing over my shoulder, telling me I need to push on, and that really motivates me to keep going.”
Zar and Michael were working on music together, but Zar said his death wasn’t something he could write about.
He said: “Something like that was such a huge blow to me because it was unexpected. You just go into a dark place of mourning, you enter this void, you’re just feeling such a loss.
“Now I can reflect on it but at the time it was too painful for me to talk about.”
Zar started writing music when he was a teenager, as a way of expressing his bottled up emotions.
His single mother was away a lot, and says he grew up “too quickly” with his older cousins.
He moved to England at the age of 17 and refused to go to school because he felt it wouldn’t teach him anything he could apply to real life. Now he’s focusing on his music full-time, and cites Tupac and Nas as influences.
He said: “When Warren G contacted me it was quite a shock. It’s good to get feedback and know you’re going in the right direction, that your work isn’t in vain.”
Follow @Zar_artist on Twitter or search Shallow Thoughts Of A Deep Thinker on iTunes( https://itunes.apple.com/