TODAY marks 14 years since rapper ProVerb released his debut album, Book Of Proverb. The project came hard as debuts come, setting the emcee as one of the best lyricist to come out of South Africa. And the world.
Tebogo Tekisho has grown to become more than just a rapper in the industry, now a radio personality, a voice over artist and a television producer. Regardless of the uncanny strides the rapper has made outside of music, he remains one of the fiercest emcees in the country when talking lyricists. Book Of Proverb is the sort of album every kat needs to listen to, for lessons on how to create an authentic Hip Hop album. Because like he said on Microphone Sweet Home
…I drop knowledge, buying my album is like paying school fees, so take notes while I tutor emcees…
Here are five reasons why Book Of Proverb is a classic album:
The first box to tick as an emcee, or any participant in the Hip Hop culture, is whether you’re a genuine person or not. ProVerb didn’t come in the game claiming Cape Town or Joburg as his hometown. He is Kimberly’s finest diamond. I can imagine the sense of pride that people from the city of diamonds had, when they heard Kimberly Rise.
But true to who he is, ProVerb didn’t paint a picture with glitter of the Northern Cape city, he spat about the harsh realities of the place-the high suicide rate and unemployment. But it gave so much hope to the people that, if he can make it outta there, so can they-and that’s some real shit!
Back in the day you’d find them lyrical-miracle typa dudes walking about with dictionary in hand, rapping just about anything. This way of rapping often crept into their albums, where they would go on a 20 track tangent. Book Of Proverb was quite solid, taking us into the rapper’s different chapters in his life track-by-track. It could be a long album in today’s project duration, but because of its cohesiveness, you kinda forget that it’s a 15 track album and just let it play.
The first verse on My Vers’d Love, where ProVerb paints a vivid picture of his love affair with Hip Hop dating back to his school days, is one of my favourite verses of all time. Even on Where Did She Go, ProVerb takes you through his relationship with a beautiful mysterious girl he first exchanged eye-contact with while performing, to ending up in the sheets with her. His storytelling is gripping as series on Netflix.
HIGH QUALITY OF LYRICISM
Very few kats can easily drop punchlines, metaphors and similes like ProVerb. Some kats have great vocals, and exceptional flow to help better their whole product. ProVerb relies on his skill as an emcee.
Who can touch the Pro’s style? None of
You, barely move me like a school bus with no driver,
Who can bust a flow lava, and who got enough rhymes to be your entire
Crew ghost-writer, the provider,
Grow wiser than a story told by an old timer,
I’m burning up the charts with more fire,
Today’s reading is taken from the Book of Proverb,
It’s chapter One verse one
He raps on Index.
Although this is an album for Hip Hop heads, you gotta appreciate its musicality. It has songs that are appreciated by people aren’t devoted followers of this Hip Hop culture. Women, which is an ode to all the women in his life and those across the globe, is a beautiful track that I’ve always felt was slept on. The song is cut of the same cloth as the 2PAC’s Dear Mama and Nas’s Dance.
Songs like Heart Beat and I have A Dream were songs I heard on YFM back in the day, which were instantly appreciated by the station’s various listeners. Sex, Drugs and Alcohol where ProVerb teams up with Tumi and Zubz is a fun joint that puts a spotlight on the dark side of media and entertainment industry which trips a lot of young people.
WE’RE mortal beings whose existence on this planet has an ending, but through a legacy one can live forever. Ask Bob Marley, Steve Biko or Flabba, who today would’ve celebrated his 41st birthday.
Real name Nkululeko Habedi, born in Soweto but raised in Alex, Flabba passed away three years ago after an altercation with his girlfriend Sindisiwe Manqele, who stabbed him. I remember that Monday morning in March when former Skwatta Kamp member Infa, confirmed that Flabba was no more. The whole Hip Hop community was frozen in shock, that ntja ya Gomora was gone.
Flabba left us with music he recorded with his group Skwatta Kamp, but we were fortunate enough to get one solo project from him which was the 2006’s Nkuli vs Flabba. The album won Best Rap album at the South African Music Awards in 2007.
I write this listening to a track from the album which he did with Lira, Gotta Let You Go. In the short song, he talks about the battling pain of losing his father and brother. This was a rare appearance by Nkululeko on record talking about his emotions, something which Flabba wouldn’t do because he was Nkuli’s Black Label drinking out-of-this-world alter ego.
Like the Kea Go Rata skit on the album where he’s in a club with a girl, tryna mack on her over loud music, but changes his story as soon as the music abruptly goes silent. He gave us himself in the album, the ying and the yang.
It wasn’t a traditional Hip Hop album marinated in lyricism and intricate rhyme schemes, like the stuff Proverb and Zubz were doing at the time. But like a proper comedian, he was far observant of what’s happening in society than people gave him credit. Kats like Lil Dicky are being given tags such as a comical rapper, while Flabba exposed us to such years ago. He was ahead of his time.
Zubz’s Heavy 8 is probably South Africa’s best posse cut, but Flabba’s Is’Bhamu Somdoko remix follows close behind. It pinned down the various Mzansi rap styles in one song, with everyone trying to channel their twisted sexual side which Flabba did so seamlessly. On the track Nkuli Habedi, he says he’s not your average rapper, but your favourite porn star. Flabba could rap, but was wise enough to avoid sounding like everyone around him who was chasing that US flow and style. He carved his own lane.
Gifted individuals live with an unfathomable and sometimes careless realness as if they know that their time on this earth won’t match any country’s life expectancy number. His clique, Skwatta Kamp was often juxtaposed to the US’s Wu Tang Clan because of their influence in the culture and also because both groups were bigger than the average Hip Hop collective.
Writing this, I can’t help but think of Flabba as SK’s Ol’Dirty Bastard. Both are deceased, they were both comical, abrasive, genuine and intelligent. Thank goodness he wasn’t part of Club 27, otherwise we wouldn’t have received what he gave us in his last 10 years on earth.
Rappers are usually great orators, thanks to their inexorable use of words and spitting them out in ways which should be audible and interesting. Similar to comedians. And there’s a sense of confidence that comes with the gift of public speaking.
Rapper Joe Budden made headlines last month, when it was reported that he just penned a contract with Spotify, not for his music but for his podcasts. The partnership with Spotify will see Budden’s popular series exclusively on that platform. I wasn’t amazed by this, Budden is a good speaker who can handle himself in front of the camera. He’s a good broadcaster, who knows how to articulate his opinions in a constructive and authentic manner.
Not every rapper can make that jump though. It’s not as easy as it looks. You find dope kats who can’t even handle being interviewed, let alone interview someone. But for some rappers, they didn’t reap what they sowed in the game so they found luck in the broadcasting world. Thanks to their gift in public speaking. Here’s a list of some South African rappers, who’ve gone into broadcasting and found it more rewarding. If you’re a struggling emcee, maybe your (financial) calling might be in broadcasting.
Not only did this kat go into broadcasting, but he started his own online platform, SlikourOnLife. He was never a lyrical beast, but he can make music. His platform has been running for a number of years now and seems to have overtaken HYPE Magazine as the go-to local Hip Hop publication.
Does this nigga still rap? He’s a dope presenter and a decent actor who just has entertainment vibes flowing through him. But unlike a lot of people, I thought he was a cool rapper. His last album, Inqolobane was slept on. Before he had his own show on Ukhozi FM, he was contributor on the station’s drive time show with Linda Sibiya. He was also host on SABC 1’s Fan Base.
If you ask him, he’ll probably tell you that he’s still an active rapper. But the broadcast world has embraced him, probably more than anyone on this list. He’s the host on Idols SA and one of the producers and simultaneously holds two slots on Kaya FM where he hosts two radio shows solo.
He might be the slick dressed sports anchor on eNCA, but this fella went by the name Seida Crook in his day and was a hostile emcee on the mic leaving no chance for imposters.
He started out with Pretoria clique, Ba4za in the early 2000s. He then carved out his own career as a formidable live performer in the last few years. But the rapper is now an online personality on T-Bo Touch’s online radio station, TouchHD. He hosts a show that talks everything sex in the explicit mid-morning weekly program, ThePlayroom.
ON a day the country celebrates Women’s Day, we wake up to the sad news of Pro Kid’s passing.
Linda ‘Pro Kid’ Mkhize died on Wednesday night from a severe seizure attack while at a friend’s plac. The paramedics are said to have attempted to revive the 37 year-old, but it had been too late.
Just last week, tributes were pouring in for another rap giant Ben Sharpa…now Pro Kid’s spirit is on the receiving end of these tributes.
Often juxtaposed to each other largely because of their monikers, Proverb wrote a touching message on his social media accounts. “Praying the news is not true, but if it is then my brother I wish you a safe passage into heaven. You were indeed a pioneer, a legend and once an incredible emcee. For the record I never considered you a ProKid but rather a ProKing!”
Maggz, who worked a lot with Pro in their early years in the game tweeted “A dark day-lost a brother, a friend, and a kindred spirit today, brutally heart-breaking. R.I.P Prokid.” One of the dopest songs the two laced was Celebrate which featured Sgebi. The two brought out the best in each other whenever they were on the same track.
While Stogie T summed up Pro’s travels in his career saying “From Le Club to Slaghuis to YFM to Soweto to Loxion Kulture to Backpack Rap to Gallo to IV League to TS Records to Dankie San to Rap Battles to the Charts to Superstardom to one of the best ever to do it. I am leaving a lot out. Horrible news.”
Whether a PR exercise or a genuine sympathetic message, but Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa also sent his condolences. “We’re deeply saddened by the tragic passing of lyrical genius, pioneering Hip Hop artist Linda Mkhize (ProKid). ProKid took rapping in African languages to great heights and he will go down as one of the greatest and most influential Hip Hop Artists of his generation.”
Pro leaves behind timeless music he released in his career that spanned for nearly 20 years. He released five albums; Heads & Tales, DNA, Dankie San, Snakes & Ladders and Continua. There are a number of rappers from ekasi, but Pro stands above the rest because he was able to make music, not just barrage listeners with comical punchlines with each line. A stellar artist who paved the way for this skrru skruu generation. He was second to none, whether spitting in his native language or dropping bars in his English, on beats by Dome. The last performance I got to see of the rapper was just weeks ago at Basha Uhuru.
The game changing rapper is survived by his parents, wife, three year-old daughter and his brothers. Details about his memorial service and funeral will be announced in the coming days as the family comes to terms with the sad news.