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Don’t Single Me Out

June 8, 2018




What can you get for R9.99?


Cartrack is offering anti-theft for your car for as little as R9.99 per day. Or if you are thirsty, a 330ml can of Sprite at your local store will cost you ten rand. Or you could download the single from your favorite rapper on iTunes or Google Play store.


It’s that easy to secure the soon to be viral, ROTY contender. To be the first to ululate how much that 6 minutes has changed your life & impacted on the plateau of the game. That party starter, got it on repeat via the aux on your way to hear it in a club packed with people who lose their minds just like you at the sound of that R9, 99 single.


Despite the great effects that singles have, no one peruses the downward effect they have on the artist’s catalogue. Especially in the current climate, a lot of artists are releasing singles to compete for the same spot as other singles that are dominating the airwaves and clubs alike. Some are put out before cut off date of submissions for next round of SAMAs to battle in the largely contested, decided by voters’ category of Record of The Year. No one takes the time to discern how that one song affects the artist.


For argument’s sake, we are going to take a song that not only changed the game but ultimately, changed the artist as well, subsequently causing a ripple effect in the whole of the South African hip hop game.


“Caracara” by KO featuring Kid X was released in March 2014. It served as second single to a then rumoured solo album by KO. The first seingle was “Mission Statement” which was released a yea prior to announce the establishment of the independent label, Cashtime Life.


The Lunatik produced thumper was, for a lack of a better phrase, slept on. The fans of Teargas didn’t gravitate to the new sound. The sound was rugged and distinctly kasi. It sounded like remnants of the Kwaito era. It sounded like understudies of the DCC crew branched out and were forging their own sound still with the teachings of Kwaito basics ingrained in them. This was the birth of Skhanda. This child came into a world that was busy being fueled by a nostalgic era that borrowed from Kwaito. A lot of SA hip hop records at the time were sampling beloved old but goldies of Kwaito. Some horrendously so and lazily sampled but the stage was set, hip hop infused a lot Kwaito during the time Skhanda was born.


The slow burner that was “Caracara” started becoming a wild veld fire because as it borrowed elements of the Kwaito era, it didn’t sample it. Instead, it sounded like Skhanda was using the teachings and carving it’s own lane. 7 months into 2014, “Caracara” was set on doing the unimaginable. 1 million views on YouTube. This feat, unprecedented in SA hip hop history, set the tone for much of what was to come from the Cashtime inkling. A strong marketing campaign was launched to drive up the views. The views garnered and never looked. With this hype, KO found the perfect opportunity to announce the release of his debut “Skhanda Republic”. The run up to the album was heralded by not one but TWO singles, namely “Son of A Gun” & “No Fear (Freestyle)”. This put KO onto a run that saw him eclipse many to the coveted number 1 spot. Endorsements came in and the game had a new leader. Many songs came out with what sounded ike re-enactments of “Caracara”. “Caracara” was now not only a hit record but a template.


Lets pause this train of thought for a minute. “Caracara” is a scorcher by all stretches of imagination. Its stature (not forgetting the eternal “Run Jozi” verse which was released around the same time as “Caracara”) catapulted KO from just a member of famous trio Teargas into a full-fledged superstar. KO was now a (Skhanda) god.


Train is ready to leave, get on board.


The album drops to wide variety of cheers and acclaim. Its called a classic. It’s called a game changer bbut upon careful scrutinisation, the songs within the albums are offsprings of “Caracara”. The sounds is no longer signature but a foundation. “Caracara” is now not only springboard for many artists who try to emulate it’s success but for the creator himself. The KO who was instrumental in the classic “Dark or Blue” is buried deep within Head Honcho spotis and dungarees. “Mission Statement” is on the album and sounds like the illegitimate child in the happy, sound alike family of “Caracara”.


“Caracara” is but one of the many hip hop singles that make an artist deviate from their designated sound. It proves that artists will always go for the side of the bread which is buttered. The single, which is not taken off an album, not only stands to lead artists into a different path but sometimes leads fans astray. As fans, once we hear a single of an upcoming album, that’s the feel we associate the album to sound like. Depending on the success of the single, and sometimes the type of artist in question, you might get versions 2 up to 13 of the song you loved. You also might find the single, over time leading to the album being released, is nothing like the sound of the whole album.


Singles SHOULD be from the album not spark the album. Singles should be a window to the house that is the album. Using the single as foundation can prove detrimental if you change your style mid recording the album. Now, the album sounds disjointed. If coherence and a single thought is pivotal to your album, the only debate you should have is which song from this body of work should I release to the public so they have a taste of what they will hear in the album.


Releasing a single with no plan on how it fits into the picture the album is painting is similar to a prosthetic leg. It becomes a good to have but not a natural fit into the scheme of the whole album.


Make your single alter other’s perspective and a glimpse into what the whole project direction is.


Wriiten by: SDot

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