DJ Cleo, who hails from Gauteng’s East Rand, began his musical career at the tender age of ten. Having Marabi styles close to his heart, and being a bass player, Cleo sought out programming and engineering skills, even doing a stint at Allenby Campus on sound engineering, as he pursued a new concept in musicianship, that being the marriage of musical instrumental skills, programming skills and engineering skills.
A fortunate meeting with Ashifa Shabba, afforded him the opportunity to work in radio at Y FM. Cleo found producing for radio a natural extension of himself, and soon was exploring the producing full music for both himself and others.
Cleo’s debut recording was “Will of Steel which featured on the DJ Glen Lewis/DJ Fresh’s “Gatecrasher double CD compilation. The release was in real terms a great success for Cleo, and genuinely a portent of things to come, as soon he was producing and composing more and more music for more and more people. In fact whilst it would be a while before DJ Cleo would see his own debut album released, the proceeds from “Will of Steel provided the wherewithal to start Will of Steel Productions (PTY) Ltd, his wholly owned label, production house and publisher, and many hits were first to follow.
In 2003, the first of string of other artist releases, with Cleo’s compositions and production abilities in full force, hit the market. Mzekezeke (first 2 releases) and Brown Dash (Puff and Pass) might arguably not have achieved the heights they have without the extraordinary production and songwriting input from Cleo.
Not content to sit back, WOS began to sign it’s own artists in 2004, starting with Pitch Black Afro, where he produced and composed the classic “Matofotofo”, and then “Brickz in 2005, releasing another smash album, with another equally classic track “Sweety my baby”.
In 2004, in between Pitch Black Afro and Brickz, Cleo released his debut solo album as DJ Cleo, which was critically acclaimed, and to a certain extent was a compilation of his work to date. He then followed in 2005, with undoubtedly Will of Steel�s biggest seller to date, his second solo release “Eskhaleni Ext 2”. One innovation that this release brought to the SA (and world) market was the creative approach linking opera and kwaito – with “Goodbye being the result.
Many of SA’s biggest contemporary artists and projects have sought out the outstanding producing and composing skills that Cleo brings to the table, Mandoza, Kabelo, Doc Shebeleza and the Coca Cola Popstars project are amongst a few.