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’S one thing to win an award deliberated over by a panel of industry experts, but it’s another to be chosen by the people. The significance of this is that, ordinary people go out of their way to vote for you because they genuinely believe and vibe with you, even the OGs.
“…The legendary Zubz telling me that my music is incredible and exactly what the game needs. He had a lot of praise for me, which was a shock considering I didn’t even think he had heard about me,” says Touchline. The rapper was reflecting on a moment with OG emcee Zubz the last letter, at the SlikourOnLife Verse of the Year awards in Braamfontein last week. Touchline won the Hennessey People’s Choice Award, with 700 votes.
The Muthaland artist says he believed he could win, but didn’t think it would actually happen. “Fortunately I have manged to build a core fan base that holds me down in times like these. Plus, they really relate to 5Grand which is the song that got me the award. I can now attack some of the toughest situations knowing that they have got my back,” he says.
In a statement, awards founder Stogie T said “These awards were created to salute Hip Hop and to celebrate skill and the art form of MC’ing.”
Touchline’s storytelling is soaked in township syntax, delivered in great word play and hard-hitting lyrics. Because of his skill, he’s being compared to Pro Kid, especially after releasing the heartfelt The Procedure after Pro’s passing last year, where he rapped on the Uthini Ngo Pro beat.
This comparison can come with a lot of pressure for a young artist trying to certify his place in the game. “It’s only motivation, the only pressure is from me to hit the heights that I truly believe I can hit. The pressure is never external, being compared to my idol only validates me doing this for so many years.”
The award winner promises to release new music this year, he’s already released Celaukuthi which he did with DJ Citi Lytes.
The ceremony was attended by over a 100 Hip Hop heads in the industry such as Sabelo Mkhabela, Azizzar Mosupi, YFM’s DJ Sabby and MTV Base’s Sandile Ntshingila among the list attendees. Some of the night’s winners include Kid Tini, Kwesta and Laylizzy.
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.