CASSPER NYOVEST

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10min3580

“The eye sees what the mind believes” and that is a scary thought considering that most of us as children of the soil, believe whatever they want us to believe. Zothile ‘Solo’ Langa wants us to believe that it is possible for a South African celebrity pretty boy to possess a high capacity for introspection and an above average level of critical thinking.

My default setting when it comes to dealing with pretty people is the prejudiced idea that evolution does not allow them the development of interesting genuine personalities and/or characters. Consequently, I was sceptical when a fellow shinobi declared that Solo’s latest musical project is fire and an essential addition to the playlist of anyone who considers themselves a mature Mzansi Hip-hop head. I have no frame of reference as it pertains to Solo’s musical journey or growth because this is the first time I have listened to any project by the Diepkloof native. I have always viewed him as a rap purist whose focus was more on lyricism than the music and I generally lack an appetite for such artists. After listening to Solo’s latest offering C Plenty Dreams, I feel bloated from the shit load of humble pie that this mo’fo has been feeding me and I have nowhere to hide my shame.

Sonically, Solo generally fuses kasi and isiZulu vocal samples with mellow melodies to create a laid-back and familiar sonic textures, which often feels uniquely South African without the usual pretentiousness that one gets from most mainstream Hip-hop artists trying to reach a wider market. Upon these textures he lyrically delivers priceless gems of wisdom to the young urban black youth of Mzansi. In the retrospective joint Imali he starts the track with a menacing sangoma chanting sample and later questions the instances of “bottle wars” that often occurs in SA’s nightclubs What is boasting anyway if it ain’t a hate on yourself…

On my favourite song on the album Imposter Syndrome, he explores the process one goes through in order to reach their dreams and/or goals by offering practical and authentic insights on how to approach such a dilemma “...jump on the stage while picturi’n people naked everybody naked, people just say shit, kodwa that’s one of my favourites…how do we walk around downplaying victories, highlighting miseries often eclipse…I’m talking about the delusion of chasing perfection while flaws are what sharpens the gift…”

It is clear that Solo has put a lot of effort into improving his creative process in order to become more musical without losing his lyricism. With that said one feels that the back end of the project he reverts back to his hold habit of monotonously rapping with generic vocal inflections which are void of any real emotions. In the kwaito influenced joint Promises, he predictably features Kwesta who recites some throw away verse to get that feature money and royalties. Solo delivers some wack ass rhyme scheme which one has heard a million times before “…I have had the visions since u pikinini ngi gijimisa u grot, figuring the business get my business get my niggers out of the woods…” In the following joint Ubuntu Babo he goes into a double-time rapping tiered which makes my eyes glaze over with disinterest over the entirety of the joint. Hypocritically though I love the last track Take me which is a boom bap tribute to Hip-hop legends who passed away in 2018 “…I have lost heroes that’s how villains are born…the cloth that I am cut from isn’t withering the storm , and what is a left is expensive fabric that you new niggers know nothing about… “

Shade!

The two interludes in this project, Highlight reel and Show the Bloopers are touching monologues by his parents which leave a “broke-ass-know it all” blogger with daddy issues feeling a bit tender. In the first interlude his mother reflects upon the circumstances that have led her towards living a spiritual lifestyle and how that ended up influencing her children. In the second interlude Show the Bloopers, Solo starts the joint with a cold eight bars which contain a moving tribute to Gugu Zulu

“…I was a defrabulator with those with no pulse, really shouldn’t be looking in those parts, pull the fuse and leave the room with no spark, Gugu Zulu put me in a go cart, who would have later known later that I would be so clutch, hope his daughter knows he had the biggest heart”

This is followed by his father, who dishes out compliments about Solo’s work ethic “…to do the right thing…ireward of doing that…iyazizela…when a person thinks about doing good right.. some people say ‘I do good so that should I die, I go to heaven’…and let’s say there is no heaven but you would have lived a good life…If you do something correct, ireward iyayizela…I promise…you will see”

In totality this project is dope as fuck, not chart climbing and internet breaking kind of dope. The hidden gem kind of dope, buried underneath the pop singles of the Nasty, AKA or Casspers of the game. This album is an important contribution to Mzansi’s Hip-hop culture because it is a clear indicator that our music can be more than just a bottle pusher in the North of Jozi. Hip-hop can be an authentic contributor to this country’s story and legacy. Due to that fact, I can’t wait for the next album from this not-so solo any longer pretty boy.

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7min16961

LAST YEAR’S OPPIKOPPI was a crime scene. And like any other misconduct, the black man is the suspect, but this time it’s him and his music that are to blame for ruining the vibes at long-running festival OppiKoppi. Or at least indirectly.

“Stop trying to cater for everyone. Keep [it] at a targeted audience. Don’t fix what isn’t broken…Oppi was and should stay a Rock festival,” said Marina van der Walt on Facebook.

Despondency came over hippies across South Africa last week when it was announced that this year’s installment of the OppiKoppi music festival has been postponed due to the ridiculous high rate of crime in 2018. The festival has fallen victim to a syndicate of pickpockets that have rampaged South African music events over the last two to three years. From Hip Hop festival Back To The City to the annual youth month celebrations at Basha Uhuru where I was personally a victim of pickpocketing- it’s become a headache for most South African event organisers.

Founded in 1994, OppiKoppi started out as an Afrikaans indie/folk Rock festival attended by a few hundreds of Caucasians from different parts of the country, in a small bar. The line-up would be dominated by alternative Afrikaans Rock artists who were in line with the Voëlvry Movement, which was an Afrikaans movement that sang anti-apartheid songs in that language in the late 80s and early 90s. The kinda boere that would chuck away Die Beeld for Vrye Weekblad.

OppiKoppi has substantially grown over the years attracting alternative African artists, who together came with a bigger and a more diverse audience. The site of Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela and Zim Ngqawana sharing the stage with the likes of Karen Zoid and David Kramer did not make long-standing patrons uncomfortable. It’s the introduction of mainstream African acts such as Afro-Pop trio Malaika, HHP and AKA that left a bitter taste on most people.

“Somehow the Voëlvry Movement that started all of this has been forgotten in the static. OppiKoppi is a living creature born through the wail of the electric guitar man. You can’t change the nature of the beast. You want AKA? You want Cassper? You want all that Hip Hop?  Then a new festival must be born that shakes to that rhythm. Why do you want to force the spirit of Rock ‘n Roll to be untrue to itself?” asked Ni-Lou Breytenbach on Facebook, responding to Oppi’s statement of postponement.

Speaking to Tha Bravado, Theresho Selesho who is the CEO of Matchbox Live which organises OppiKoppi, doesn’t think the festival’s growth has also been its Achilles heel. “The Festival has always been about freedom and fostered a safe environment where people can be free to connect, discover new acts, genres and have a great time out in the bushveld, which is a precious experience. We strongly condemn racism, sexism or any other form of discrimination at OppiKoppi. We are very happy with the strides that the festival has made over the years where a diverse audience can all enjoy OppiKoppi.”

But this amalgamation of cultures hasn’t been enjoyed by everyone though. “OppiKoppi has sold out for 20 years running before they took over. Still, the response is ‘genre diversity is something we have always welcomed’ their historical cult-like following is based on a Rock festival, not genre diversity,” said Peet van Wyk.

Over 80 cell phones were reported stolen last year, with items in people’s tents and cars taken, it’s by grace that no sexual assault was reported at the festival. “The crime incidences and stats nearly doubled in the previous year,” Selesho says. “This has in turn taken a lot of freedoms away from our fans and the safety of our audience and their belongings is our main priority.”

Selesho and his team have promised a return of Oppi next year, giving them sufficient time to find ways of guaranteeing people’s safety at the festival. Whether that’ll mean no Hip Hop or even House act, it shall be seen on the 25th chapter of OppiKoppi next year.

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7min6201

IT was almost habitual for my friends and I to immediately, after watching a movie, meet at one of our backyards to mimic what we saw on film. The countless spinning-kick attempts after a Jean-Claude Van Damme motion picture, would make the actor blush with pride.

A screenshot from the Kickboxer movie.

For us it was not only limited to film, even after watching the biggest reality TV show the WWE, you’d find one of us, depending on whoever has the most charisma on the day, being The Rock.

I was taken back to my childhood by reports that Refiloe Phoolo, better known as Cassper Nyovest, booked out the entire Mega City cinema in Mafikeng, for kids from his neighbourhood to go watch Matetwe. A great gesture by the rapper, to support local creation and also take these kids on an excursion they’ll probably cherish for the rest of their lives. Much like how Kendrick Lamar did for the kids in Compton last year, with Black Panther.

Directed by Kagiso Lediga and produced by Black Coffee, Matetwe is a film about two friends from Atteridgeville who are undecided about their life post high school and their adventures on New Year’s Eve which land them in some trouble. The two main characters Lefa and Papi, played by Sibusiso Khwinana and Tebatso Mashishi respectfully, opt to peddle their special weed called Matwetwe, with hopes of becoming instant millionaires. Nyovest poignantly had a moment of silence for Khwinana before the start of the film. The young actor was murdered at the height of the movie’s success at the box office.

Matwetwe screenshot: Sibusiso and Tebatso

Matetwe is enjoyable as finely rolled up Sativa, but I can’t help but wonder what the kids from Maftown took from the film. That pushing greens is the best alternative, when you’re out of options for life after school or has Matetwe triggered the curiosity to experiment with marijuana? Of course, there’s also the possibility that the bulk of kids who filled those auditoriums are well acquainted with Maryjane.
But when you look at how film has deliberately, placed it in our subconscious, that it’s a cultural necessity for one to consume alcohol for example, you tend to appreciate the nexus between motion picture and how we live. Countless scenes of people at a bar, a dinner table or even at a tavern jump at me, when I think of the consumption of booze on camera.

People’s passiveness while glued to a screen, is one of the main reasons why the film industry is so influential in the lives of many. Added to the fact that the average person isn’t conscious of their mental or even emotional intake.

Wars across Africa were commonplace 60 to 70 years ago, which have trickled to modern times in some states on the Motherland. But one can’t deny the influence Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo series of movies had, on young Africans’ appetite to carry Kalashnikovs in the 80s. Whether you were going over the borders of apartheid Suid-Afrika to join Umkhonto We Sizwe, or wanted to be part of Thomas Sankara’s Revolutionary Defence Committee in Burkina Faso…this selfless act was also fuelled by the desire to be a Rambo, the skilled killer draped in uniform, who could rid us of the bad guys.

Film can also be a great vehicle to inspire good in society; it depends on the underlining message. That films are portraying the impact in which patriarchy, racism, body shamming or any other form of discrimination has on people is a step in the right direction which helps to mitigate hate that some people are at the receiving end of, daily.

A movie can only do so much though. The same way a three minute ditty that lashes at government corruption can also stir you up as a citizen, it ultimately cannot stop the actual rot in public office. After all, not one of us in my group of childhood friends went on to become black belt karate students after watching Kickboxer.

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7min5060

Remember when Cassper Nyovest told Sway he was South Africa’s Kanye West, or when Nasty C said he had not experienced racism in South Africa- the rappers were speaking their truth, but one can’t help think that they could’ve worded their statements differently and with more astuteness.

On both occasions, the youngins gave skewed representation of what really happens in South Africa. People were divided in opinion about their presence on the radio show. But what’s been evident since Stogie T’s appearance on Sway In The Morning, is the unanimity in which everyone was in praising the OG.

Comedian Kagiso Mokgadi joked that “The Rand strengthened one percent vs the doller today. Thank you Stogie T.”

While Osmic said the verse should be studied in labs, high school and university, to which OG rapper Wikid agreed with, commenting “He murdered it”.  The most random adulation came from former Orlando Pirates soccer player Kermit Erasmus. “Our own legend, @TumiMolekane spittin barz, this gave me goosebumps.I had to call him to let him know,” wrote Erasmus on Twitter. While South African sprinter Akani Simbine dubbed Stogie the “Undisputed lyrical king.”

“From the interview to the best freestyle I’ve ever heard on Sway show. Personally…I am thoroughly represented here,” tweeted rapper Solo.

But there was no bigger nod than that of The Roots’ Black Thought, who sent Stogie a message simply saying “You a beat bro.”  Which left Stogie speechless.

“The moment you feel like dumming shit down, go play @TumiMolekane freestyle,” said Rougue.

Fellow lyricist of the year nominee at this year’s Hip Hop awards, PdotO tweeted “We were well represented on Sway. Thank you for that king. Mean! Mean mean.”

No has ever doubted Stogie’s pen game, but what made South Africans proud was because most people felt that his skill has long warranted him to be on such platforms.

He articulated himself well in the interview, narrating to Sway South Africa’s Hip Hop history. He did the stuff of globally celebrated South African athletes or pious politicians, in how he gave the country that fuzzy feeling inside.

It was also a win for local OG rappers, after the tough year they’ve had losing three giants who impacted the game on different levels. Wherever HHP, Pro Kid and Ben Sharpa are, they glowed with pride upon hearing Stogie rap.

Sway aptly said “Stogie T, South Africa’s finest,” as he was about to go in. He not only represented South Africa, but the African continent. His bars had more weight than Biggie, Pun and T from the V sitting on a park bench.  He brashly started by saying

There ain’t a French bottle we ain’t pop

A fresh article we ain’t copped

Benz top that we ain’t dropped

A dress model we ain’t knocked

A festival we ain’t rocked

Destined to be this hot,

He was basically saying to the American audience listening that ‘hey, I might be from that dark continent but, you ought to show me some respect’

Rapping about how in today’s South Africa, struggle heroes are raising spoilt kids and the opulent only meeting the deprived when the latter come clean after them. Directly talking to the country’s inequality.

He challenged stereotypes that Americans always pin on Africans, whilst also showing appreciation of Hip Hop culture in the US and Malcom X.

I’m a Kool G Rap alumni,

These my handlers, the kufi Nas from NY,

Jesus medallion, reading Langston Hughes,

El-Hajj Malik el Shabazz and them,

Shit in the pocket like the Audubon assassin

I couldn’t help but think of Irish poet, Oscar Wilde’s quote, “with age, comes wisdom,” after watching the whole interview. He showed wisdom, not only in conversation with Sway, but also with his raps which got a lot of people pondering on a lot.

He posted a photo of himself at what looked like the Roc-Nation offices, with a caption implying that someone there wanted to meet him. He said going on Sway was something on his bucket list, but it might just be the first step to next level shit for Stogie,since Tumi from The Volume dun did that and got the T-shirt.

 

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8min1340

BY definition, a milestone is; 1. A stone of a kind that use to be fixed beside a road, to mark the distance between towns; 2. A significant stage or event in the development of something.

The latter is where we’re at. So nominees of the seventh annual South African Hip Hop Awards were publicised exactly a week ago.

There were a couple of eyebrow-raising names, or the lack of, such as AKA in any of the categories- he decided to snub SAHHA because as he put it “I no longer submit for award shows because I no longer believe in the concept of awards”. Ironically there is the return of Nasty C, with eight nominations, after choosing not to submit any of his music last year. Zakwe, Kwesta, Da L.E.S and Cassper Nyovest are the other leading nominees.

Founded by Sowetan Osmic Menoe, the SAHHA have upheld consistency for seven years now. Ritual Media’s dependability should be noted-we had HYPE Magazine Hip Hop Awards that fizzled in the past. Regardless of the winners of the night, one always leaves the SAHHA with more discernment of the South African Hip Hop landscape. They put a spotlight on people you’ve never heard of, from provinces afar, who love Hip Hop with the same passion of a Hip Hop head in Brooklyn. This whilst celebrating past and present leaders of the game.

But one guy who gets nauseating love from SAHHA, is Cassper Nyovest. For the fourth consecutive year, Cassper is the recipient of the Milestone award at this year’s SAHHA. The Mahikeng rapper is a hard working kat that could and should never, be juxtaposed to any of the fellas nominated in the best Lyricist category because he is not one. You could argue that he’s an artist, who found a way to manipulate the game in ways that many never imagined.

At HHP’s memorial service, he said the deceased foresaw his stardom. While HHP’s hype man, Nyovest would nag the OG to sign him, but Jabulani Tsambo would turn him down because he thought Cassper could and should make it alone. “He said I’m not an artist that should be signed, I could be a business man and should be as big as Lil Wayne,” said Cassper.

Unlike the late Tsambo, I would liken Nyovest with MC Hammer. The latter is considered the first mainstream rapper who had a financially rewarding career, by pushing boundaries and being smart enough to use gimmicks and other things around his music. Unfortunately Hammer was a spendthrift, which was one of the reasons for his disgraced fade. I don’t foresee Nyovest in those sort of troubles, especially because he’s an independent artist.

His filling of The Dome in 2015,the inaugural Fill Up concert, will forever be etched on the history of South African music. Prior to this he used his ponytail and beef with AKA as gimmicks to push sales, but Fill Up gave opportunity for Cassper to display his ruthless marketing skills.It was a success- success which swelled his ambition to turn a once-off concert to an annual event. Three years down the line, Nyovest has filled Orlando Stadium, FNB stadium and is currently fiery than a campaigning student activist, as he attempts to fill up Moses Mabhida stadium. He will have that beauty in Durban to capacity, come December first.

The dude is in his moment, and you can’t front on that. Now as much as these are great feats, do they warrant him the Milestone award for four consecutive years at the SAHHA?

Are we saying that should Cassper, as I expect, go throughout the country and possibly various parts of the continent filling other stadia, be given this award until he runs out of breath? This is not about Cassper. Let the black man get his bag while he still can. But he can’t be awarded for repeatedly doing the same thing, just at different venues. The novelty of Fill Up died after his concert at the Dome ended that night in 2015.

It’s just not logical for the awards to continue on this trajectory, with the Milestone award in particular. For the safety of not sounding like an advocate for anyone, but the country’s Hip Hop, I will not even suggest who besides Cassper, deserved the Milestone award in the last few years. But take my word, there are people who’ve put in work deserving of a Milestone award. Osmic didn’t respond to questions surrounding the award.

This ruins the awards’ credibility with the fans and artists alike. It could be the reasons why artists sometimes choose not to participate, with the fear of headlines that read “SO AND SO LEFT THE REST STUNNED AFTER SCOOPING ALL THE NIGHT’S AWARDS ” as to suggest that one’s music or work isn’t good enough nor appreciated by the masses because of a gong.


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