In my time… The Then And Now In SA Hip Hop
“You see rhyming, I began it when I was this small/then I got this tall, nou de las I am this tall”. Hip Hop Pantsula uttered these words on his hit song “Tswaka”, emphasising his growth in the hip-hop industry.
Growth is not imminent amongst hip-hop acts and some fall off or become irrelevant in the forever-changing times of the genre. It is quite an honour to be relevant at stat quo and still be able to say, “In my time…”, and a rapper that manages to adapt is to be recognised and applauded, because scenarios like this are far and few between.
In South Africa we have seen a couple of rappers grow and blossom to the stars they are today. For an industry that’s considered young, these constantly growing artists defeat the possibility of hip-hop as a dying breed in our country. We encourage their growth because it’s all a stimulant for the rest of the industry. An artist with longevity is a legend in the making.
A few that come to mind when we speak about then and now:
THEN: Kimberly-born technical producer hosted one of the biggest Breakfast radio shows at the time – The Fresh Breakfast Show. He laced a few jingles and gave us one of the most memorable break up songs in the form of “Letter To My Ex”. His debut album The Book of Proverb, is certified classic by many. A memorable freestyle alongside HHP on June 16 where he showed his lyrical dexterity with the opening line, “I’m fortunate I didn’t partake in apartheid”.
NOW: Volvo ambassador; Palse Homme ambassador; Idols presenter and producer; and his fourth album aptly titled “FourthWrite” is currently out in stores. He is fittingly named the hardest working man in the business. Proverb grew as a lyricist, a family man and a businessman. He is now one of the most respected icons in hip-hop and the entertainment industry as a whole.
THEN: Part of the trio Entity, they brought a fresh look to music videos in SA. The group gave us one album, sadly, and as the group dispersed, AKA, Kamza and Bukz formed the production trio IV League. The trio was responsible for hits such as Khuli Chana’s “Tswak’ Stick ‘Em” and PRO’s “Bhampa”.
NOW: AKA probably has more trophies than some football teams – South African Music Awards winner, Hype Award, GQ Award, Metro Awards, South African Hip Hop Awards. His debut solo album Alter Ego, was released under ShowLove Music and his sophomore is reportedly in the pipelines. He’s also a Head Honcho ambassador, including his short stint as a presenter of a gadgets show on TV.
THEN: He was the Willards back-to-back freestyle champ. He was involved in some controversy back in the day with Hype Magazine about allegedly using the ‘N-word’ against Reason. (Nick is originally from Ukraine).
NOW: He’s the resident rapper on 5FM’s Fresh Drive for the feature, ‘The Weekly Rap-Up’ and appears on TV on the segment ‘TV to the power of 5′. With his Broadcasting Live EP released last year, Nick is readying his album Backstage Pass for a 2013 release.
THEN: Fame from the legendary Le Club and front man of the Tumi and The Volume. Live from the Bassline showcased the diversity of this emcee and stamped his name in amongst the best to do it in SA. “Yvonne” and “76” with the soulful Pebbles are some of the classic gems from Tumi.
NOW: Boss of Motif Records, which hosts talents like Reason, Perfecto, Instro (resident engineer) and Zaki Ibrahim. His new album is slated for a 2013 release. He has feature verses that are considered gems and listed in people’s ‘murdered on your own’.
THEN: One third of Motswako group Morafe, Towdee Mac gave us some insight to the complex slang in Motswako music. He produced a big part of Morafe’s second and last album to date, A Ene.
NOW: He has a solo album titled Lesson 1. He also produced the first single off ShowLove Album titled “Good Times Back”. Towdee Mac is also a qualified music lecturer.
Hip-hop is now bigger than bars and banging beats, its an income for many and should be treated as the paying art it is. Its all good being the hottest emcee on the block but that relevance quickly fades if you are monotonous and there’s no sign of growth as an artist, as a human being, and as an active member of the culture. Like these artists, you too can grow from strength to strength and build your brand and fine-tune your art.
Royce da 5’9 said it best in “Lets Grow” – “Let us grow up, now we got here/We can’t stop here, we too far”.
Written By: Siphiwe Zwane (@siphiwe_junior)