“That was Nsikelelo Langa Senior ladies and gentlemen, um…lets go hard immediately” - these words echo from Solo’s 2010 tape titled No Shades of Grey, signaling his desire to conquer the local scene and possibly beyond the boundaries of South Africa.
Talking to Solo felt one got the sense that this man has a plan, and he is keen on implementing it. How he re-appeared in our radar is by no means an occurrence of luck but clearly a matter of self-belief and talent. He meticulously details how his journey thus far hasn’t been a road filled with handouts but rather hard work and patience.
“One can’t really pinpoint where they started rapping but I dropped an EP titled ‘No Shades of Grey’ in 2010.”
Solo came onto the scene in 2010 with an EP called No Shades of Grey. The EP was released exclusively on his website for six months and then the site was shut down. The tape had a video for one of the songs titled “Bad”. Solo’s resurgence came in the form of three songs, namely the first single “Stardust”, “The Frolic” featuring his business partner Kabomo and Vuzu presenter Dineo Moeketsi, and what may be called one of the biggest collabos in the form of “Stardust Remix” which featured Tumi and Proverb.
“Listen to the song, listen to the verses. I’m a lyricist foremost. If you listen to Stardust the original, that’s my life story. I wouldn’t want the remix to feature the currently hot MCs but rather people that will relate to the music I make and the story I’m bringing forth”
Solo clearly states that the big names are not by any means a way to get attention but rather they contribute to the feel of the songs. He also says he is glad people are talking about the Stardust Remix, not only because of the names included but the skill that is prevalent across the 3 minutes 56 seconds. He feels he earned his mettle on the track and that’s a preview of the album. It also serves as bragging rights in an arena of top dogs in the hip hop pyramid, he held his own amongst the two gods of SA hip hop.
“Release date is something that is discussed with the label. The album is ready. Its called ‘Dreams A Plenty’. As soon as I have the date, I will communicate it to people. I can’t wait for you to hear it.”
The albums conundrum in the South African market continues to be a problem for artists. Solo understands this and his company, 1988 Music, has a deal with Universal in aims to reach a bigger audience. The two songs, “Stardust” and “The Frolic”, are currently available on iTunes. He also states that this is only the beginning for Solo the artist.
On what is he bringing into the hip-hop market, Solo promised an honest artist with a personal story to tell on the mic. He also acknowledges the ‘turnup’ movement and has no gripe against it but also states he should be judged on merit, skill and lyricism.
“I have a number of artists on the album. All the features contribute to the story I’m putting across. From Bukz to Reason to the pianist, all the artists I have ensured that Dreams A Plenty is as musical as I want it to be.”
Solo states he is not afraid of being overshadowed in his own offering, he attests to his skills as an MC and has carefully selected who he wants on the album. From MCs to pianists, they all have a role in constructing Dreams A Plenty. Upon discussing the features and musicality, a common thought we shared was the album will transition smoothly from start to finish. He also mentioned the album is mixed by one of the highly acclaimed engineers in the industry in Instro of Motif Records fame.
“What I am confident of is I’m not the same as the crop of the rappers in the industry. We are all hip hop but we are not the same. I’m Solo and people will see that with the album. They’ll know me and have no problem of distinguishing me from the other rappers”
The confidence is evident and who can say they were on the same track with two gods of SA hip hop AND held their own? CHEKA Digital wishes Solo success on his career and that’s why he is the first on our 2014 Fire Starters list.
Written By: Siphiwe Zwane (@SDotJR_)