“With “theRAPy”, FonZo delivered an excellent project; the likes of which we haven’t heard from a young rapper since AKA dropped 24/7/366 in 2009.”
FonZo, a young rapper who hails from Port Elizabeth and resides in Cape Town has steady been making a name for himself through releasing singles and freestyles over the past two years. His potential was recently recognised when he won The BlackBerry Mentor Competition; judged by SA’s self-proclaimed Prince of Hip-Hop, AKA.
On the 1st of July, FonZo released his long-awaited mixtape titled “theRAPy”, hoping to establish himself as one of the most promising young rappers in the country. With this in mind, I reviewed the 16-track mixtape to see if he succeeded.
The intro sets the tone for what to expect as FonZo steps into a Group Therapy session revealing that he wants to get some things off his chest. Then “Memories” kicks in, and the up-and-coming rapper reflects on some of the most important memories of his life. He raps about his first day at school, leaving Port Elizabeth and moving to Cape Town, missing his family while also spitting about making the most outta opportunities, then flips the script on friends who say he’s changed and the pressure he’s under, all whilst smoothly showing –off his talent over a melodic, old-school sampled beat.
On the next track “The Symptoms”, you can hear FonZo rapping freestyle with no hook or chorus. He opens up to his therapist about his fears and dreams, how he feels ahead of his peers and winning Grammy’s instead of SAMAs as he’s gunning for the top spot. This is a more boastful FonZo with lines like: “Your mind’s on the SAMA’s well mine’s on the Grammy’s. Put my all in this music, I don’t feel there’s a plan B.” “The Illness” produced by Best Kept Secret is a remake of Kanye West’s Theraflu with a fresh twist; another track showing-off his ego. This time directed directly at his competition, FonZo states: “Wrote this verse on the graves of these rappers that I’ve slayed”. Fortunately he has the bars and delivery to back this up.
On the Clams Casino-produced “The Suffering”, FonZo switches things up a bit with a playful track on a Ying Yang Twins-type production. This may be one of the less impressive tracks on the mixtape, but a fun one nonetheless. He follows this up with “The Treatment”, on which he shows his introspective side as he raps about his dreams, the doubts and fears he has, living with no limitations and having nothing to prove to anybody but himself. Oh, the Kanye West sample on the hook is a nice touch, making this one of the stand out tracks on this here mixtape.
On track 7 titled “The Reality”, FonZo features yBliz as the two emcees go head-to-head and trade secrets about how they will destroy their competition. Lyrical to say the least, FonZo outshines his guest by balancing out his boasting with humility. “I’m thinking, can I get a deal by the end of this mixtape, or am I living out a sealed fate,” spits a confident new kid on the block.
“The Freedom” features a rapper named Von Leigh, as the two spit verses over another Clams Casino production. Unlike the previous track however, the chemistry is not as in sync. FonZo outshines this featured artist with little effort, while Nadine had the hook on lock. The title-track “TheRAPy” is one of the catchiest offerings on this release and should have you singing along with the hook by the end of the track. FonZo digs a little deeper with his content as he opens the track by rapping about the racism still existent in South Africa post-Apartheid.
Other tracks worth mentioning are “The Talk”, “The Man”, “Thanks”, “Swervin”, “Hometown Hero”, “Cheer Up”… you see where we’re going with this right?
In conclusion, “theRAPy” is a well constructed project. From concept to beat selection, lyrics to features; everything is meticulously selected. Track after track FonZo delivers with clever wordplay, punchlines, well constructed verses and flawless delivery of his flow. Some of the featured artists fail to match the bar set by this young rapper, but with only 3 of the 16 tracks featuring guest verses, this doesn’t hurt the overall sound of the mixtape.
The Theraflu (“The Illness”) and Can’t Tell Me Nothing (“The Man”) re-productions are excellent, and he gives both tracks a whole new feel. Where most rappers would have just taken the original beats, FonZo decided to put his own stamp on them. This is a risky move but it pays off in this case. As does his version of J.Cole’s “Cheer Up” and his decision to trade verses with XV on “Swervin”.
Another impressive feat is the fact that the beats have been expertly selected, with not one worthy of slander. This is impressive as most rappers struggle with this aspect of the recording process. With “theRAPy”, FonZo delivered an excellent project; the likes of which we haven’t heard from a young rapper since AKA dropped 24/7/366 in 2009.
Written by Ashraf Stakala (@ASHownsCHEKA)