Stogie T

Clement Gama11/07/2018
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5min3070

BACK from a brief self-imposed hiatus, Nasty C receives a handful of nominations for this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards.

After feeling unappreciated for his efforts in 2016, Nasty C boycotted last year’s SAHHA, this was during his time as a Mabala Noise artist. Now under Universal Music Group, real name David Junior Ngcobo, seems to have had a change of heart towards the awards. “There’s no one we actually have a problem with and speaking on the Nasty C issue, we’re still not aware why they chose not to send, but it’s always love. The awards are for the community,” founder and organiser Osmic Menoe says.

Nasty C has had an amazing year, avoiding any possible sophomore jitters, he released Strings and Bling this year and has managed to stay in conversation prior and post release.

He was recently part of BET’s SA cypher together with fellow current chief emcees A-Reece and Shane Eagle. Strings and Bling is nominated in the album of the category, where Nasty C will battle it out with Da Les’ High Life, Cebisa by Zakwe, Baby Brother ya Blaklez and K.O’s SR2.

For his pen game on Strings and Bling, he is nominated in the salivating Lyricist of The Year together with Zakwe, Stogie T, Ginger Breadman and PDotO. The Best Remix, Collab, Radio Show, Video, Song of the year and Best Male and Female categories will be voted for by the public. The awards take place at Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre for the seventh consecutive time on December 19. “We have made a home out of the venue, we appreciate the professionalism and love they always show to the awards,” says Osmic.

Nasty C is nominated twice in the Song of the Year category, for Send Me Away and his collaborative joint with A$AP Ferg, King.  The same track is nominated as one of the best collabos of the year, together with Boity’s mystifying Wuz Dat. Nasty C is nominated eight times, or nine if the collab with Boity is included. Also in there is DJ Speedsta and OKMalumKoolKat in Combos Communicating, Riky Rick’s Stay Shinning with Cassper Nyovest, Professor and Major League DJs- among the list of 10 tracks nominated.

The ceremony will be broadcast on SABC 1, after being on e.TV and MTV Base in previous years. “We still with SABC 1 after the good numbers last year of 2 million viewers. We felt at home and appreciated the fact that they were willing to take a chance.”

Other artists who have a slew of nominations are Zakwe, Kwesta and Riky Rick.

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8min4742

BORN under unusual circumstances, Benjamin Button springs into being as an elderly man in New Orleans and ages in reverse.

That’s the summarised plot of the Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The 2008 film’s narrative regurgitated in my mind as I listened to Stogie T’s latest project, Honey & Pain.

As a mark of growth, artists tend switch from their alter ego monikers to being known by their I.D names on stage. Just this week, on Tha Bravado I wrote a piece about Selema Writes not going by the names Sledge Lee and Dice Mak anymore but embracing the name he was given at birth.

Artists who are genuine about this, will have their art as witness to this change. When Stogie T announced he doesn’t want to be referred to as Tumi anymore in 2016, the veteran rapper wasn’t taken serious. But his music has shown that there’s definitely been alternations.

Don’t get me twisted, Stogie T’s raps are of Tumi’s quality. Stogie has more bravado and doesn’t seem concerned about what his bars do to the environment. In the intro of Rapture where he features Jay Claude, Stogie raps:

The verse Kodak, decoded that

See it through the eyes of those

Living where there ain’t no hope at

Dealt a better card, I wasn’t

Made up like a joker

Add my legacy to the ledger

I won’t be broke Jack

Stogie’s patterns and rhyme schemes are an amusement park for a genuine Hip Hop lover. That’s why Tumi And The Volume will forever be etched on the memory of South African Hip Hop because Stogie is a superb emcee who was in a band with great musicians, creating timeless songs.

The music on Honey & Pain doesn’t have replay value, except a few songs, this is mainly due to the things he raps about. On Big Boy Raps he’s on his remember raps, in the last verse sounding like a petty OG talking about cars he drove, juxtaposing himself to rappers who are currently in the forefront of the Hip Hop.

It’s when listening to such, which makes me comprehend Andre 3000’s reason for his retirement from Hip Hop because it’s a young man’s game, especially the braggadocio side of things. Listening to some of the songs, you get a feeling Stogie’s tryna prove that he’s also got swag. You’ve got it bro, you need not prove anything.

Stogie T the storyteller is what he needs to give us more of, which he did on the track Numbers Game. The joint has YoungstaCPT on the hook and surprisingly he doesn’t have a verse on the song. I found the song quite timely considering the scrutiny that has been on the coloured community and the prevalence of gangsterism there. Stogie tells the story of one who grows up in the coloured area and the adversity they face on daily because of the barrage of social ills.

On the 14 minute long God’s Eye he went hard on a number of beats (about eight) dropping verses not accompanied by any chorus. It reminded me of his project, The Powa Mixtape in how he talked to important issues such as the pursuit of a better life by immigrants from war-torn countries.

It was good hearing Maggz on the project’s single, Pretty Flower and the new kid J Molley. The latter served his purpose on that hook.  Stogie T has a good ear for talent, which guides his choice of features. Rouge is the equivalent of a Kevin De Bruyne on Side Chick, her hook holds the song together plus she raps, while Ayanda Jiya’s gentle voice gives the song that tenderness to counter Stogie’s patriarchal stances on the verses. It’s a good song which I imagine should do well on radio.

I appreciate Joharzardousburg for the vibrant beat, its length and of course the raps. I haven’t heard anyone do a song about Joburg, painting a picture of the complex and colourful city-it’s such a rapper’s rapper thing to do. It also sells Johannesburg to those who’ve never been here.

Stogie has the rare condition of the Button disease, in musical terms at least. He came in the game making music way ahead of his time and beyond his wisdom-ironic that Button was born in New Orleans and Tumi’s music had strong jazz elements in his early days.

Now I believe he’s at his adolescence juncture, enjoying music and ripping the mic, just for the sake of it. The longer he goes though, his sound may become primitive in the name of being a young person who’s having fun.

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10min1840

IT WAS Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who said the key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.

The artist we know today as Selema Writes, is an individual whose shown consistent consciousness of himself in each juncture of his life which has allowed him to embrace change that comes his way.

It’s commonplace  for artists to change or minimally alter their stage names as a sign of growth or introducing fans to their alter ego. Tumi, of the Volume is currently doing this using moniker, Stogie T-a nod to his affection for cigars and his personal growth in the game. Mos Def switched to his Muslim name Yasiin Bey originally in 1999 but was publically known as Bey six years ago. Each individual has reasons for why they do this; even the absence of ‘Lil’ from some rappers’ names has poignant meaning. Just maybe.

Selema Writes, who last week shared lengthy posts on Facebook chronicling his life story was doing so as a way of reintroducing himself to his fans. He came into the game as Sledge Lee, a name which many know him of. But in 2014, right after winning the End of the Weak international freestyle competition in Uganda, he developed a sense of detachment to the name.

“I realized that I had achieved everything I ever dreamed of for Slege Lee. I had no more hunger to prove that I was the illest. I had a new hunger. A hunger to speak from the heart and tell my story. Everything that motivated Slege was no longer there,” Selema tells me. Sledge was the grimy nigger who was about the streets, cliques and the beefs that comes with it.

“My perspective was different but I still wanted to rap. I still wanted to express myself through Hip Hop but my consciousness was rising and I couldn’t be the kat I used to be anymore.”

Without a moniker, Selema had to find a name which would accommodate this experimental phase he was going through.  It’s ironic that he went with Dice Mak, because he gambled on his look and sound which people knew him of in the past. “During this period I formed a band with my peoples Tha Cutt and Bonibass, I rocked suits on stage and I even experimented with trap music,” he says. The ‘Mak’ in his name was a gesture to his father’s surname, Makgothi. “It was only after some time that I saw that even Dice Mak is still an Americanization. Hip Hop is already so American and for me to have a name that sounds American on top of that was too much for me.”

The harsh realization of the inequality in society, the rise of the EFF, dialogs about land and even movements such Fees Must Fall and Black Lives Matter in the US and other things have made home in the black psyche, which result in a growing sense of pro blackness in most Africans, on the continent and in the diaspora.  “Pan-Africanism and Afro-consciousness are two ideologies that I believe in strongly since I was very young. The difference is that when I was younger, getting respect in the streets was more important so that is what I focused on. Now that I’m grown, speaking for Africa and lifting up the children of Africa’s future is more important to me. And this was also a common theme with Bra Hugh. So I was inspired to be myself, an African. Not just in my beliefs but in my name too. With the hope that this will inspire other young Africans to embrace who they are as opposed to just parroting what we see from Americans.”

Selema Writes. Photo Supplied

The mention of Bra Hugh was not just in passing, but Selema’s final evolution as Selema Writes is connected to him being part of the Hugh Masekela Jazz Band. Many aren’t aware of this but the late Masekela, was Selema’s uncle. “But as quite a proud individual I vowed that I would never use his name to get me anywhere. So all along I never told a single soul about my relationship with the great legend. Upon his passing all of that changed as I was asked by my family to represent in honour of his memory.”

Selema sings in the band which travels and honours the legacy of Bra Hugh with their unique tribute shows. “So far, I have been tasked to focus on the legendary song, Stimela. We’ve had several performances this year. Most notably at the Cape Town Jazz Festival and last month at the Joy of Jazz Festival.”

Yesterday the artist released a dopely executed video for his track Toothache, which introduces him to the world. Directed by Tazna Slater and Selema himself, the video is set in a scrapyard where Selema roams around the vicinity by spitting bars with the ferocity or Slege Lee, the swag of Dice Mak and alla that in Selema’s authenticity. Mark Anthony Duckitt was the creative director. The shots and editing were neatly done.

The track is a remix of a song by a UK artist Jaykae, which Selema heard while watching series. The track basically talks about his story which involves the changes he’s gone through over the years. “This song was something I wanted to give the people after a long time of not hearing from me. It’s a way of showing my evolution from both a lyrical standpoint but also from a content and sound standpoint. I’m quite proud of it.”

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6min1740

A MUSIC video is to a song, what an image with a good caption is to an article. It takes the story forward.

Just five months ago Riky Rick said he was taking a break from the spotlight in the music, but last Friday he surprised most with the release of a spirited track, I Can’t Believe It (Macoins) with gripping visuals.

The song and the video presentation is currently being slept on in the country. According to Riky Rick, some television channels won’t air the video because of the content. He said this while thanking MTV Base on Twitter, for playing the video on their platform.

The ill-judgement of some of our broadcasters is perplexing. Local broadcasters aren’t proactive in their presentation; they always prefer to follow a trend instead of being the ones to initiate the conversation. This is just one of the reasons why television lags behind the net, but not everybody in South Africa can afford to watch videos on YouTube due to exorbitant prices of data.

I can imagine an ocean of people chanting the chorus, when Riky Rick performs this joint live. He repeatedly says he wants more money, then sounds in disbelief in the hook, not because he has gotten what he wants, but at what it cost him it seems. That’s what the visuals relayed.

But instead of money, a group of eccentric individuals seem to desire freedom more than anything- to be themselves within an uncomplimentary society. The freedom comes at a cost though, as one of them commits suicide, which then sparks the revolt. The interesting part is that, everyone fighting for something is part of the riot, not only the small group of friends who lost a comrade.

Directed by Adriaan Louw, the video took the conversation stared by Riky Rick in his rhymes, to another level. They chose the perfect time to shoot this, managing to capture beautiful light under Joburg skies, while Marco Filby’s Art Direction was complimented by the cast’s believability and wardrobe.

With the abrasive, in-your face beat Riky Rick reminds everybody who he is in the music and creative space. Steeped in Hip Hop braggadocio, from the first verse he states why 10 years in the game, he still manages to remain relevant throughout the country. But it’s his second verse on which he bluntly raps

I’m in my element, my regiment

Taking over is imminent,

Drop one song per year, and stay prevalent

Old niggers say my name to stay relevant

I couldn’t help but think of Stogie T when I heard those lines, despite the fact that the two recently settled their feud, which was sparked by Cassper Nyovest saying Stogie did nothing for him, during an acceptance speech at the South African Hip Hop Awards last year. iVenda LaKwaMashu, as Riky Rick is known on Twitter, was in Nyovest’s corner and also slammed Stogie for claiming other artists’ success.

The song has a similar refrain as Pick You Up, which came out earlier this year but unlike that joint, he raps in vernac on I Can’t Believe It (Macoins) and sounds original, rejuvenated and grimier. iVenda LaKwaMashu isn’t the lyrical-miracle typa rapper who will get battle kats like Kriss AntiB and Don Veedo salivating at his every line. But his hooks are catchy and he speaks his truth and a lot of people can relate to that shit.

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5min4270

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.


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