See Pava said I should tackle Vike, I left your homie with scars, now Kriss said I should give you the strike, they gon find this body on Mars, cos RC said for the good of the sport I should put Demon’s head on a spike, bra I think the PSL started a trend, cos so far it feels like every league is trying to relegate all you freestate stars
That’s the scheme that won No Peace Bar of the year at the Hip Hop 411 Battle Rap Awards, but nice as it was, he cherishes the Battle Rapper of the Year award more. “…It means I was consistent and it means people can actually see the hard work I try put into every battle. Bar of the year is prestigious don’t get me wrong, but that is just 30 seconds out of the year,” says the North god, No Peace.
The awards are a first for Africa, the only other Battle Rap awards to have taken place in the globe were the 2014 Battlerap.com awards. “Initially when the idea to recognize and reward battle rappers who had done well throughout 2019,we had planned on giving away cash prizes, trophies and other prizes to the winners yes. Financial circumstances related to other activities we are working on that needed a urgent heavy financial injection compelled us to scrap the idea of a ceremony, prizes, trophies and redirect the finances to other activities,” says Hip Hop 411’s Kriss. The winners were modestly announced in a series of Facebook posts throughout last week by Hip Hop 411.
The awards were adjudicated by 50% fan votes and 50% by a select group of judges. They selected adjudicators “with a high battle rap I.Q and they possess an extensive knowledge of the battle rap culture not only locally but globally as well.” Time Xone, Mdu Sibanyoni, Boy Wonder and Denis Bops were the individuals bestowed with judging responsibilities. A vote from a Hip Hop 411 TV staff member would be roped in if one category was tied, but that never occurred.
Other categories included Performance of the Year which went to Linda Strat, Verse of the Year was awarded to Verbalist while Don V and Fahrenheit’s battle was the Highest Viewed Battle as well as the Battle of The Year. “Real talk, it wouldn’t have lived up to expectation if it wasn’t [Battle of the Year]. I already knew Don was gonna bring it and if I did my bit, it was an instant classic,” retorts Height.
It’s still debatable who walked away the winner in that tussle. Both emcees came proper, not short of confidence. “We put up a dope battle, very personal as far as material goes and with that look at where it took us regarding YouTube analytics, 10 000 views,” says the 1632 emcee Don. One gets the feeling that had the awards been in existence a few years ago, Don would’ve probably gotten the same awards for his battle with Kris. His battles seem to be crowd favourites that rake up big viewer numbers.
True to the nature of calling it like it is in battle rap, there was a Moemish of the Year. That award went to Cape Town spitter Rogan, who was supposed to battle Fahrenheit in the Mother City, but failed to pitch to the battle claiming a rival gang wanted to kill him. All this after his dilly-dally of demanding a bigger cash prize, which Hip Hop 411 obliged to. “The rap battle community has welcomed this new development with open arms and excitement. Even people who are usually negative towards our work because they are aligned to rival battle leagues have been positive about it. In the same breath the will always be people who feel disgruntled and unhappy because their favourite rappers were not nominated or did not win or they feel that their friends who organise battle rap events should be the ones doing the awards,” Kriss tells me.
But these awards can do a lot in raising the standard of battle rap, should they have consistent growth and find ways of rewarding kats with actual prizes and awards. Imagine a No Peace waking up every day to see his Battle Rapper of the Year gong on his TV stand. “…it will make it more competitive and will push kats to work because we all want to our work to be acknowledged, so it will definitely improve the quality of battle rap,” No Peace says. “Battle rap is already a dope close knit family as is, but knowing there’s competition at every corner makes it even better,” says Height.
KABELO TSOAKO is convinced his neighbours hate him. Nothing screams conviction like two EPs, unambiguously titled My Neighbours Hate Me.
“I make a lot of noise wherever I live. I can imagine how my neighbours feel,” Tsoako tells me. I can’t imagine the annoyance one would have to live through, having a music producer right next door constantly making music, often in ungodly times.
But I doubt the same “loathing” neighbours imagine that, their noisemaking makhi is one of the country’s most slept on musicians.
Being slept on is,when not a lot of people have heard your material but once they do, they’ll admit that you’re dope. Being underrated on the other hand, is when your material is out there and everybody sees you, but no one considers you dope enough to be in the top five or whatever, said a friend of mine differentiating the two.
Young, gifted artists who put in the work, are rarely celebrated which can trigger mental issues in some creatives. But it’s fruitful for one’s mental state, to learn to define self, outside of their art. “I’m probably depressed three or four times a week [laughs]…but you gotta soldier on bro. I also think this mental health thing affects every artist differently.I know I make nicer music when I’m down and it’s all about trusting the process,” the producer also known as KaeB tells me.
With material that can sit well on most urban radio stations around the world, KaeB has consistently released music, under the radar for a couple of years now. The young man from Tembisa is currently pushing his single, Crown featuring Parley Wang also from the 1632. Crown is on KaeB’s six track EP My Neighbours Hate Me II that came out earlier this year.
He’s been making music since high school days, but ever since his #Cozyfridays where he dropped a track, at the end of each working week, he’s shown growth in his music and consistency.
“…I used these releases to challenge myself to make a song in a week, come up with an artwork and drop it on Friday sort of like a drill. This helped me understand how to rollout a release. The record label/agency transition happened when I had to release a compilation tape for all the #CozyFridays and I kinda just setup my own label/agency,” says KaeB.
The Stay Cozy Group is his brainchild, but he has an external management agency for bookings and his day to day management.
Slept one as the fella is, KaeB is beginning to reap the rewards of his sweat and consistency. His bouncy track Right Now with ECHLN and EMAMKAY has been receiving warm reception from those who’ve been fortunate to hear the re-released song which he first posted on his Soundcloud in Feb this year . While just over a year ago, a track he produced C&L by Melo B Jones, was on the Kaya FM playlist-still is.
“People do like what I’m putting out; I run into people who always have positive feedback about the music. I also think being more visible on social media this year helped a lot and that’s how I connected with ECHLN to redo Right Now and put it out.”
To date he’s released three projects since his first output, the Ruh Tape in 2012. His sound has grown with the pace of pubic hair in adolescence and with the graceful evolution of a caterpillar to a butterfly. When I first came across his music, he was a Hip Hop head who cut samples that would give Boom Bap rappers wet dreams. That was in 2012. In 2016 he produced a song that warranted him airplay on Joe Kay’s show on Soulection. It was a remix of Justine Bieber’s All That Matters. They also play his music on electro music label based in Singapore, Dakerthanwax.
The evolution of his sound is a result of his maturity as a listener of music, who constantly forces himself out of any box.
The Beat Makers Market took place last month in Joburg, which KaeB didn’t attend nor participate in. He never competes in beat making/producer competitions. “[Laughs] I peeped the ‘line-up’ and it was not my type of music. I’ve outgrown that style of music. I wouldn’t even enter such an event I’ll probably lose to someone who is currently making that type of style,” says KaeB.
Melodies and harmonies are a mainstay in all his music. Listening to the first My Neighbours Hate Me EP, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that dope lyrical rappers or any other artist could richly benefit from working with a producer like KaeB. Such collaborations would also dispel notions around beat making competitions which seem to be focus on just Boom-Bab beat makers.
On the same note, you will find that artists who get on these rich soulful, futuristic bouncy beats, do not do the music justice. The feeling of the song is often prioritised over its lyrical content. A balance is needed.
On his music making, KaeB says “The process varies with the mood but I always start with my drums and then I’ll add the melodies and harmonies. I’ve also made it a habit to add a hook, mostly me singing as an idea that I can build on later on.”
Hearing beautiful music come together is a joy. That’s the reason I don’t think KaeB’s neighbours hate him. In fact, the EPs probably should’ve been called I Think My Neighbours Hate Me, because quite frankly, no one from next door has complained to his face about the noise he makes.
· Apart from him, KaeB says these are some of the producers to keep an eye on in the near future. Sheeesh. Skinniez, Tsukudu, Ctea, Tweezy, Trust B1, Benny, Wichi1080 , Enkei, Sptmbr Yngstr, Daev Martian , ECHLN, Hi-Lux, Gina Jeanz, Ben Rasco, Broken Transient, Muzi, Vthevowel and Zuks.
LIKE a first kiss, debut projects are timelessly unforgettable. Might be because artists create such work without pressure and expectation from the audience and themselves. Whatever it is, the music sticks for a lifetime.
Anyone who has come across music by Las Days Fam, will tell you about the clique’s Official Streets EP, which celebrates a decade this month, since its release in August 2008.
It’s funny how the days go by…you’d swear it was just a few months ago when the EP first came out. From the get-go, you can feel the spirit of Hip Hop and of Tembisa, as you’re welcomed to the EP by HI4P’s Madpro and their other followers in the intro, with soundbites recorded at Hip Hop sessions.
Authenticity in Hip Hop, is crucial to how an emcee is received by the culture. We knew, from the jump what LDF were about; an unwavering faith clique from Tembisa, that doesn’t hold back on the bars and on their truth. Whether you’re agnostic or an atheist who doesn’t agree with what they’re saying, you respect their realness. Being a Hip Hop group that openly talks about Jesus Christ can be quite tricky, as not a lot of people would be receptive to something that’s the equivalent of a sermon on beats. But LDF isn’t just that. Their skill and close-attention to detail has earned them respect from Hip Hop heads and music lovers around the world.
“I thought the real is back, when I first heard them. That was my first impression. It’s real raps and the project was well mastered if I remember well- it was music with purpose and music with a real message, that’s the one thing that stood out for me when I listened to the project,” says Back To the City founder Osmic Menoe.
Unlike other neighbourhoods, Tembisa doesn’t have rappers who’ve cemented their place in the game. LDF was first and remains the only clique to do that. Speaking to one of the finest DJs in the country, Illawon Kane who hails from the 1632, he says “Having known Thabang (Landmarq), from back when we hosted events in Tembisa, as a consistent lyrically fit emcee with a voice that makes you wanna extend your listening cap, it was one of those moments where one would take a breather and say ‘finally, the streets are going to hear what 1632 emcees are made of.’ An EP that represented kasi out of kasi because there are a lot of dope emcees that have good music but are unable to make the same impact that LDF had with this.”
Osmic, who owns Ritual Media which also had Ritual Stores at the time, says the LDF fellas brought the EP to him at the store. “…obviously there was not many or not any record stores willing to sell local Hip Hop. The impact it had was from…the beats and the lyricism- you could tell the commitment that these guys were showing. And I remember also, plotting with Mizi when he and myself thought ‘fuck man, these kats need to get some form of a deal or a distribution deal or some sort’…Mizi used the HYPE magazine to basically create meetings for the fellas to go and meet up, I can’t recall if it was Musica or a distributer- I could be wrong, but I remember that as well,” he says. Osmic was particularly impressed with the quality of the music.
Kane mastered one of the dopest joints, Think Twice Music. “….The song grew into me as I used to listen to it over and over to get the right sound it deserved. It’s a story teller kind of song,” he says. “I was invited to the launch of the E.P as a DJ, which took place in Newtown. Proud moment it was.”
“Their consistency of releasing, at some point kinda stopped, but the beauty about making good projects is that they last long. Even if they don’t release for a good four or five years, the first project was strong enough to last a good 15 to 20 years,” says Osmic.
“Unfortunately the lucky never realizes they are lucky until it’s too late. Take yourself for instance; yesterday you were better off than you are off today but it took today for you to realize it. But today has arrived…” a quote from the Rabbi character, in the Luck Number Slevin movie is an intro to one of my favourite songs on the EP, Last Days Lullaby where everyone goes in on the beat with a barrage of bars that drag your ear to the speaker for close listening.
At the time of releasing the EP, LDF had four members; Bonafide, Landmarq, Kitron and Braintrain. The two latter members are no longer part of the group. The clique currently has three members, which includes new member Baggz.
In the 10 years since that EP came out, LDF has released two albums, Eternal Effect in 2012 as well as last year’s release, Dissent. They won the Best Group award in the now defunct Hype magazine Hip Hop awards in 2010, got a SAMA nomination at the 2013 South African Music Awards (SAMA) and won the Best Gospel Rap at the SABC’s Crown Gospel awards in 2011.
According to Landmarq, they were planning of celebrating the anniversary through the release of a remixed version of the EP. “We had a number of producers lined up, but I got side-tracked. We had planned to launch it with an event and guests.”