YoungstaCPT

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Awards and elections have this in common; not everyone who contests walks away victorious. But leading up to any elections or award season, one can make forecasts looking at the landscape.

That the ANC was going to lose its grip on a number of metros in the November 1 Local Government elections was predictable as Priddy Ugly’s Soil album being nominated in a slew of categories at this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards (SAHHA). Yet only the former became a reality as Priddy was surprisingly recognized in just one category in the nominations announced this week.

“Too many good albums were submitted and didn’t make the cut. If we’re looking for five albums, it becomes a numbers game and others will automatically fall short,” said Creative Director of the SAHHA Rashid Kay. He was responding to the absence of the Soil in the album of the year category. 25K’s Pheli Makaveli, Logan by Emtee, Costa Titch’s Made in Africa, B4Now by Blxckie and Big Zulu’s Ichwane Lenyoka are the shortlisted albums of the year.

The 10-track Soil is a good body of work that Priddy Ugly released in July, together with some absorbing visuals to help narrate his story. That this album wasn’t nominated is unfathomable- more so because local Hip Hop has been starved of a consistent album in the commercial space, where temporally hot singles and Amapiano are the order of the day.

“In a case of a tie, we then look at factual numbers from Radio Monitor for airplay, and Capasso for streams and digital sales. It’s not only Priddy Ugly’s album that didn’t make the cut, like Kwesta’s album, Yanga Chief’s album, Zakwe and Duncan’s album, and other dope dope albums that fell short with numbers,” said Rashid.

Creative Director of the SAHHA Rashid Kay. Photo by Rashid Kay
Creative Director of the SAHHA Rashid Kay. Photo by Rashid Kay

Priddy’s solitary nomination came in the form of Lyricist of The Year alongside LandmarQue, PdotO, YoungstaCPT and A-Reece. Similar to Priddy, none of LandmarQue’s EPs were nominated in the Mixtape of The Year category, yet he got the nod for his pen game. “You must realise that every category has a different criteria. With Lyricist of the Year, numbers don’t count but it’s strictly about lyricism, your pen game has to be on point,” Rashid said.

That these awards have been hosted consistently in the last decade is commendable. In celebrating its 10 anniversary, they’ve introduced the Artist of The Decade category where 16 Hip Hop acts were selected, which include AKA, Gigi Lamayne, Cassper Nyovest and K.O among others. “We’re looking for consistency, impact, and achievements within the past 10 years. You don’t necessarily have to have been in the game for 10 years but who fits that criteria in the past decade.”

Another new category is Best International Act where Drake and Ye were nominated together with the UK’s Little Simz, Sarkodie from Ghana and Botswana’s William Last KRM. It doesn’t make sense as to why you’d want to nominate artists from the Western world when they already have such global dominance. It would’ve been refreshing to shine the spotlight on Hip Hop on the continent to help grow the camaraderie among African Hip Hop heads if they limited the nominees to African acts. “If we wanted an African award, we were gonna call it “Best African Act,” was Rashid’s response.

SAHHA
Tha actual Awards

Amapiano’s unquestionable domination has prompted questions about the strength of SA Hip Hop. “The “SA Hip Hop is Dead” narrative usually comes from people who are not part of the culture and don’t know the difference between Rap and Hip Hop,” said Rashid.  “Hip Hop has never relied on a song or an individual to be “alive”. The SAHHAs have been around for 10 years and they are not here to prove any point.”

This year’s awards are themed The Manifesto, as to coincide with the country’s current political climate. The awards will be streamed live on the third next month and be televised the following day on SABC 1.

You can view the list of all nominees here

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I sometimes feel like artists deny themselves classic albums, for the sake of streaming numbers. I truly don’t see the purpose of an album exceeding 12 tracks, in this day in age. A 22-track album could have 10 songs that are adequate for a masterpiece.

These and many other things swirled in my head while listening to YoungstaCPT’s album, 3T. It’s a combination of laziness and also being economical with my time, which makes me shun long-ass projects. It’s for this and many other reasons that till this day, I haven’t bothered myself to listen to Drake’s Scorpion.

I forced myself to press play on the 3T album and was gripped by the seven minute intro, Pavement Special. The sound of Adhan coming from the mosque, hooting taxis and a vendor hustling on the streets, immediately put me on a sidewalk in Cape Town. Long as it is, the intro served its purpose in pulling me into Youngsta’s world.

I’ve played 3T countless times now, and with each listen I appreciate its length because the album takes you through the world of a young coloured man, learning about his origins, through conversations with his grandfather. I’ve often felt like media has denied people of truly knowing the average coloured person you would spot in Eersterust, Rabie Ridge or in the Cape flats.

Not to suggest that Shane Eagle, Stanton Fredericks or Pam Andrews are less coloured than YoungstaCPT. The rapper from the Mother City genuinely put a spotlight on what it truly is to be a coloured person, living in South Africa today.

The first track is titled VOC,Voice of the Cape, but it could be easily interpreted as Voice Of the Coloureds in how this album places him as a mouthpiece of that community.

I was pleasantly surprised by his beat selection, I expected a barrage of Boom-Bap sounds that would accompany Yougsta’s undemanding storytelling. The shit slaps.

Ignorance is bliss they say, and my heavy consumption of music made listening to 3T slightly uncomfortable at times due to the familiarity of some of the songs on Youngsta’s album. Yaatie, where Youngsta pushes himself with the flow on the bouncy beat, reminded me of Kendrick’s Humble. While Pallet Gun cringingly jogged my memory to AKA’s Dreamwork.

YVR made me wana see Youngsta perform the song live, in front of thousands of fans jumping up and down, shouting ‘Young Van Riebeeck’ under a downpour.

There is something Nipsey Hussle-esque about Youngsta. More than just the music, it’s about their strong connection to their neighbourhoods, their street credibility, their inquisitive nature and the desire to share knowledge with those around them. To Live and Die in CA has such a West Coast feel to it, you’d swear Youngsta is from L.A.

Youngsta’s hook game on this album probably has some pop artist envious. Had it not been for the significant conversations he has with his grandfather, you could just press play and let the album flow at a party. The Cape of Good Hope and Just Be Lekker are some of the tracks with a catchy hooks.

Tik Generation and 786 presented a nice Boom-Bap interval from the Trap sound which dominates the album. Youngsta’s oupa talks at the end of Tik Generation, where he likens the 70s crack epidemic in the US’ Negro communities, to the drug problem in the Cape flats today. The conversations between the grandson and his mkhulu are important to this album as Cole’s Note to self outro on 2014 F.H.L.D.

I would understand why some people might skip their dialogue, but the old man drops so many jewels of wisdom, it personally made me wana to sit down and chop it up with the old man about other things.

3T is one of the better albums to come of Mzansi in the last five years, but could’ve easily become a classic with the slashing of some joints. But it’s well worth the listen.

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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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