Taking a recording break to afford upcoming musicians a chance, unlike having nothing new to “offer”, which is why I have carefully decided to release the State of Hip-Hop Address.
South African Hip Hop is alive there is no doubt about that, but the state of its health could be much better, the apparent lack of competition has resulted in some if not many of the top dawgs getting comfortable thus lacking the motivation to go the extra mile because the public will consume everything they release resulting in the circulation of mediocre content.
Stogie T the empire of sheep is a masterpiece so we’ll kindly leave him and the rest of the lyrical Big Five (Zakwe, Big Zulu and Stogie T, the other two spots are still open, Sir Dibi is a major contender, though) out of it because their only flaw is that their lyrics go over people’s heads and their music isn’t just for the club.
Besides them 2020 has been a mediocre year for Hip Hop and it has been this way for years now COVID-19 just made it clearer and cannot be used as an excuse, Emtee dropped Johustleburg and Wave and they were both hits but they were both miles away from a Roll Up level hit or even a Pearl Thusi level hit.
Aka Dropped MaDrugs to mixed reception, personally I would rather listen to Sim Dope, The World is Yours and Composure, and, DreamWorks over those tracks every minute of any day.
Nasty C is in his own lane and that lane puts him far ahead of the pack, he started 2020 on a strong foot with the Lost Files EP (Def Jam deal) which was fire and was better than his most recent release Zulu EP, but hopefully, he will deliver the quality we’ve come to associate with the Bad Hair genius when he drops Zulu Man With Some Power.
Sotho Man With Some Power was a scam apparently, but A Reece has long announced that he is busy working on an album, so we’ll patiently wait on him as he takes his time, which seems to be his formula and the result is always quality content.
Kwesta is another mainstream artist who takes his time in between projects and that usually works for him. He dropped 2Skeif earlier this year and it was a nice starter before the main course that is Dakar III which is apparently on the way. Given Kwesta’s dedication to the craft and the accolades, maybe taking a recording break argument might be valid, regardless of what you think about the break and giving people a chance, it is clearly evident that South African Hip-Hop needs a little more life. We simply need a young hip hop breakthrough.
It’s almost as if the mainstream cats don’t have the energy or motivation they had when they first entered the industry or maybe in an effort to stay relevant in a fast-paced industry has swallowed them into creating average music. The recording break as suggested by Scoop will aid them in reconnecting with their creative juices – it is not a complete stop. Scoop made a lot of sense, although he was met with rejection, whatever the reason, the results are watered down the music, the music that is forgotten faster than a mere fart floating in the air.
The only breakout artist this year for me is Costa Titch and it pains me to say this because Thembi and Nkalakatha are both hits, but it seems like the Zulu Rap is merely a gimmick to compensate for his average English rap skills even though his Zulu rap is equally mediocre (as a multilingual rapper who is exceptionally skilled at both English and Zulu rap I’m allowed to say this), upon listening to his back catalog, well, it seems like he is constantly surrounded by better rappers who should be the ones in the spotlight instead of him, and, maybe this points to a larger problem in the South African music industry, the tendency to gravitate towards gimmicks and superficial style over substance and skill, it’s ponytails over Cuban Cigars which is why quality hip hop music in the Rainbow Nation is an endangered species.
But Hip-Hop isn’t about to die any time soon because it’s in good hands, the underground, upcoming artist, rising stars (the name varies on who you ask and their proximity to the industry.) are cooking up a mad fire and have been for years now and that’s the root of the conflict.
Industry politics, corruption and general lack of resources like quality equipment, a competent team, money for payola, and general knowledge on how to maneuver the industry used to mean and to a certain extent still guarantee that we only hear and, or have access to a select few musicians, but with the advent of the internet or rather the rise of its role in music, has a lot more artists who are smart enough to utilize putting themselves on and the mediocre cracks in the mainstream façade are beginning to show – thus, industry big dawgs such as Ricky Rick and Scoop Makhathini have taken note and advised accordingly.
If you’re a hip-hop head who feels like SA hip hop is dry at the moment here’s a list of much better artists you can listen to right now:
Sk Supreme [HERE] | Thando Nje [HERE] | Leo [HERE] | Rude Boi Joker [HERE] |Tasha Hendrix [HERE] |Mpho Sebina [HERE] | Royal Indi [HERE] | Arteast [HERE] | Jay Hood [HERE] | Oxide On Cheese [HERE] | Kreame [HERE] |Elaine [HERE] | Vay Gard [HERE] | King Ally [HERE] | Ngwato [HERE] | Pu K [HERE] | Zusa [HERE] |Malachi [HERE] | Nayga Emessay [HERE] | Siya Royal [HERE] | Bzurk [HERE] | O.G [HERE].
With the above rising stars, there’s nothing I can really say, other than the fact that having them shinning through the South African hip-hop spotlight would actually give the game a new and solidified direction – we don’t need AKA, Cassper Nyovest or Kwesta to be versatile, we need the industry to be versatile in a sense of knowing and taking care in plugging the unseen talent that South Africa has.
In the END, Scoop Makhathini was highly misunderstood. He had a valid point which in turn was overshadowed by the very same egos acting like conglomerates within the industry. A recording break does not mean ignore your musical abilities, it simply means go recuperate and come back with something better to offer. Give yourself time to listen to your music and not the pressure of releasing junk music just for the sake of being counted as an active artist musically.
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