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.
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.”
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.”