He’s part of the Back To The City Festival’s organising committee, the SA Hip Hop Awards, I Speak Hip Hop magazine, he has four albums under his belt and two SA Hip Hop documentaries amongst other accolades. Between traveling around the country promoting his new album and covering events as a journalist, CHEKA Digital got a chance to catch up with Rashid Kay and chat about his numerous activities in Hip Hop.
CHEKA Digital: Firstly, congrats on being the new editor of I Speak Hip Hop.
RashidKay: Thank you very much.
As Hype’s automatic rival, what different content is I Speak Hip Hop bringing?
We are not trying to be different but to cater for SA Hip Hop. We’re not even worried about what Hype is doing. We are all serving Hip Hop and it’s good for our industry.
And how are the sales figures looking?
I Speak Hip Hop is currently the fastest growing magazine in South Africa. Give us few more months and we’ll be running things.
Do you still contribute to Hype mag?
Nah, I don’t. I don’t freelance anymore. I’m full-time with I Speak Hip Hop.
Coming to Back To The City. The Back To The City issues call for a separate interview but the question on most head’s minds is what criteria are used to select artists?
The criteria for Back To The City is current material, buzz, singles, visibility…..Trust me, we notice everyone who’s working hard, with or without an album.
But artists such as H20, Pitch Black etc had no current hit singles, buzz whatsoever.
I’m glad you asked that question. This year we had an “Old School” section hence Pitch Black Afro, H2O, Infa… We are going to have that every year, bringing the blast from the past. There’s a lotta young kids who never saw Skwatta Kamp, Hidden Force, Amu, Spex, Mizchif, 5th Floor… We are trying to bridge that gap. Maybe these kids will appreciate and respect their pioneers more.
And the SAHHAs. A lot of heads complain that the awards aren’t doing justice to ‘real’ hip hop but simply follow the SAMAs’ blueprint of commemorating what’s on radio and TV. What can you say about that? What’s the main aim of the awards really?
Heads need to understand that the awards are all about honouring excellent work in every field. This is not a talent search show, the ones you hear and see are the ones working the hardest.
Please take us through the Fede Fokol documentary.
It’s about the history of SA Hip Hop from when it started to where it is right now. I researched and scripted the whole thing. It’s about time we tell our own stories.
You just released your album, ‘The Son God’. Please tell us more about it from the title to who you’ve worked with to the themes explored etc. And how do people get it?
It’s actually called ‘Ra The Son God’. ‘Ra’ is short for ‘Rashid’. I associated that with Egyptian Ra the Sun god and I just changed SUN to SON. On production, I worked with Dynamic from Joburg, Msikat from Richards Bay, Polite from Zimbabwe and Samuel Addai from Ghana. The album features Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion), Junior Reid and a female vocalist called Nana from KZN. People are very excited about my album from the response I’ve been receiving.
Being known as a hip hop scholar in the game, do you still find that people adorn you with that title and don’t consider that you are a fan foremost and your opinion is to see hip hop thrive?
It’s very difficult when people label you. Before everything else I was a Hip Hop fan, then became a rapper in high school, I started reading books and had desire for sharing information. I then became a freelance writer for various publications and even wrote TV documentaries for E-TV and the SABC. Everything I do is Hip Hop related because that’s my first love.
And do you think you’d be as respected as you are now in Hip hop if you were just a rapper and not also a writer and activist?
On the contrary, this is my fourth album and I had a fan base since way back because I’ve been vocal on Hip Hop matters. Nowadays you don’t find rappers who stand for something and have firm beliefs. Everyone is out to please by portraying what they are not.
A lot of emcees are claiming Le Club as the foundation of SA hip hop, what’s your view on that and how does it impact the new school crop of emcees?
Le Club is the foundation of what Joburg Hip Hop is today, and SA Hip Hop to a certain extent. Back then there was a Hip Hop movement where the Hip Hop culture was practiced, today new school emcees have MTV and bedroom studios, and they think they are Hip Hop. As much as Hip Hop evolves, we shouldn’t neglect the most basic elements.
You’ve done quite a lot in and for hip hop in SA. Do you feel that your efforts are recognised?
Although I’m not doing it for personal glory, I do get some recognition for my contribution. I mean I’m part of Back To The City – the biggest Hip Hop festival in Africa, SA Hip Hop Awards – the biggest Hip Hop awards in South Africa, I Speak Hip Hop – the fastest growing publication in South Africa, I have 4 albums, 2 SA Hip Hop documentaries…. I can go on and on.
And the pioneers of hip hop in SA, do you feel their sacrifices are recognised by the new school or we are ungrateful?
Just because you did it first doesn’t mean you did it right. Most of these so called pioneers might have contributed to the development of SA Hip Hop back then but they are not doing anything for Hip Hop right now and still wanna be praised for what they did in the ancient age.
In SA, we can go a whole year without having a newcomer blowing up. In your opinion, with so many rappers in the country, why is our industry only producing very few ‘stars’?
Radio is playing it safe for playing who they know, and then the new cats end up being overlooked. People are to blame too because they would go for AKA over Gingerbread Man any day, regardless of the skills.
So what’s next for Rashid?
I’m gonna go on a national tour to promote my new album, shoot a few videos and continue with the SAHHAS and I Speak Hip Hop.
And lastly, who would you rather be stranded in a desert with between AKA and Tumi? And I’m not taking ‘none’ for an answer. And please give a reason why.
Tumi – he’s fat and that means more meat for me because I can choke him to death, eat him and survive for weeks.
Compiled And Written By: @SabzaPassword