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Humans

Youngsta – One element of Hip Hop is knowledge of self by Sandy L, photography by David

The reason I started rapping is that I heard certain messages in music and that unlocked an idea or a thought in my mind it, in turn, made me want to spread a message.

I am giving back to rap what rap has given me. One thing you must always remember is that one of the elements of Hip Hop is knowledge of self. In order to have knowledge of self you need to know yourself well. You need to understand who you are, because that is what you are giving to the people-yourself. If you are lying to them, they might buy into a lie. Now they are living their life based on a something you just thought sounded cool or something that you thought you could get successful doing. Now you got thirty thousand or fifty thousand kids who are all going to follow that. Just because you wanted to make a buck out of it.

Whereas I am trying to spread a message that a few people have said. I am going to say something that other rappers have said in the past, but nobody has reported it from Wynberg yet. Nobody has reported it in 2014 yet. I started doing this when I was 18, I am 22 years old. Four years in and I still have a lot more stories to tell. It’s just from life that I am taking these stories. I am not watching movies or sucking it out of my thumb. These are things that I have seen, things

I am going through. I want people to know that I am human, I am relatable I am just like them. I do the same things they do. I get on the taxi like they do, I get on the train like they do. It’s just that with the gift that I have been given, I use it. I don’t ignore it, I don’t pretend that I am not special. I know that there is something that I have that other people don’t. So that is why I rap, I want to bring that across to the people.

Question 1…

That wasn’t even question one, that was the intro?

Yes. You said that you have to know who you are…. this is a tough one to start…

That’s fine. Bad news first.

You said you have to know who you are to do what you are doing. So tell me who are you? However, you feel like answering, in a few words or however you feel.

It never goes one or two words with me. It always goes to a paragraph. In short, I think I was a child who watched a lot of TV, listened to a lot of music and spent a lot of time on his own. With that I made the music that was playing on the TV because I was interested in music videos. I made that, you could say my hobby. Other children like to play soccer outside or play cricket. Some of them liked rugby, I liked rap. I was heavily influenced by the entire culture not just the music itself because when I watched the music videos I saw the clothing. In the music videos they are standing wearing the clothing, maybe they are standing behind a wall of graffiti and there are DJ’s in the video as well. So without even knowing I am getting influenced by the entire culture of Hip Hop, not just the rap. Even though I am just a rapper now. If a DJ comes on, I still have respect for what he does. If a dancer comes on and starts b-boying, I still have respect for what he does. If a guy starts painting on a wall, I still have respect for what he does, you know.

So without even knowing my whole life was basically being engulfed by this Hip Hop thing. I didn’t even know that’s what it was. Its just that I found that intriguing as a child, since the age of six. My mother would even tell you, I never wanted to be anything else. She asked me if I was sure about this. She asked me almost every year of my life. “This rap thing isn’t stopping son, what next”. There was nothing next, this was it. I am Hip Hop, its cliche and a thing other rappers have said before, but I understand why they say it because once you get into this, you have to walk Hip Hop, talk Hip Hop and thinking-hop. When I am in the shower I am making little beats and choruses and stuff. When I am eating I am thinking about music. It is part of my life it is who I am really.

You wrote your first song when you were twelve what was it about?
That was like a really childish song.

Well, you were twelve.
So I was basically talking about what other rappers were talking about. I was just basically imitating them. But my wordplay was good, I can say.

What was the message?

I am the worst, freshest twelve-year-old you will ever meet in your whole life. I am the cockiest twelve-year-old child in that song.

Do you have it up somewhere?

I didn’t release it yet. I will though…..

In one of your songs ‘Hella,’ you talk about uniting the cities as in Johannesburg and Cape Town…..

The thing about Johannesburg and Cape Town is that Jhb has the industry and Cape Town has the art. If you look at how the Hip Hop scene in JHB was built, it was built by Capetonians- POC and Ready D, they took it from Cape Town, Mitchell’s Plain to Johannesburg. They build the Hip Hop label, the first successful label, that was in the early nineties when was born.

Ah my word yes, you were just born. 

 So its like Cape Town is the originators of Hip Hop but it was taken to Jhb where it then became  a successful running machine. A business, because Jhb has the resources and stuff. But it was built by people from Cape Town. The whole culture of Hip Hop itself like Ready D is a DJ but he an Mc as well and  B-boy and he was coming with a crew it wasn’t just one guy, it was a whole unite of people who were all providing the elements of Hip Hop. I would say that is the big difference that Jhb is the industry and Cape Town is the art, okay back to you.

A message from one of your songs for the kids “Don’t do drugs kids, try to do something good’. What else would you like to say to the kids that listen to your music and are influenced by it?

The thing is that I will always tell the next generation is, to be better and improve on the things that the previous generation didn’t… like my mother told me not to do any of those bad things. She used to warn me not to play outside with those guys or not to sit with those guys. I never used to listen. I did it anyway. Now when I talk to a child and I tell them not to do drugs or don’t smoke weed or whatever the case may be. I first have to look at myself and ask myself if I adhere to those rules. Do I follow that standard, and it’s hard because some of these kids, they know that I don’t. In some of my other songs I am talking about smoking weed again, you know what I mean. So also for them, its hard for them to see past where they are at the moment, their existence is now and their reality is now. For me to say don’t do drugs because its going to impact you negatively in the future. They are not thinking about the future, they are thinking about the now.

Who am I, I was just as bad as they are when I was their age. But that is the reason that I at least try and put some positivity in the music. I can say I did my bit to assist and I know there is going to be, I wont say all of them, but at least one or two if them can at least think “Okay this is somebody whose encouraging me to go a different way”. It’s hard to not listen to your friends when you are sixteen/seventeen years old, you want to fit in. You want to be cool, you want to go to the latest parties and wear the latest clothes. You listen to the latest music. If you listen to what is playing on the radio at the moment they are not telling you not to do drugs. They are telling you to turn up and to twerk. It is also hard when they are being fed that all day and here comes this guy who lives around the corner in Cape Town, he is saying guys don’t do drugs please. Who are they going to listen to, me or the millionaire? I do what I can, I say my piece. I put it on record for all to see that I did say it and that I left it there for the world.

Last one, unless there is something else you want to tell me, man of many words.

I got too many words.

No such thing. The words from one of your songs ”I was lost’. I want to speak about this because I think it is the most normal thing in this world to be lost, it is part of a process and something we will experience many times over in our lives.

I would say in my teen years, like most others, I was probably the most destructive and shit like that. I got in trouble with the law. I got in trouble at school a lot. I got in trouble with my mother and my father. A lot of my family, they were quite worried about me in those years. They didn’t know what I was going to be. Every time I said rapper they thought it was a joke. Like I told you my mother would ask me every single year “What are you going to do?” and every year, the same answers “Mommy, I am going to be a rapper” Its crazy, you must think about it from her perspective, she had never seen a successful rapper come out of this place. Out of, number one, Wynberg and, number two, Cape Town and, number three, South Africa. In her mind that was not a feasible idea, Was she going to put money into that? Where would she send me to study for that? Where can I work to go be a rapper? You cant do that. So its self taught but I would say it is a gift and a curse almost because I taught myself, but I taught myself by looking around at pain and suffering and bad circumstances and the negatives taught me actually how to turn it into a positive because I have to understand the dark in order to rap about the light. I have to know the light better than I know the dark, because this is what is happening I am making the transition to a more responsible person.

Through all of those things, there must of been a reason why I went through what I went through and I did what I did. Now I am able to tell stories on behalf of myself and others whose stories you are never going to hear. Some of them are going to end up dead and some of them will end up in prison and stay there.

The message is very important because it is powerful.  I always try and write honest, that is my number one thing. Write exactly how it went down, word for word.

In Cape Town the legends are here we have the Black Noise, BBK’s and the  POC, since them, no one else has emerged. There have been some guys who have taken a swing at it and still no luck . Now with this new generation the “Y generation” the kids of the nineties and shit, we are coming out now and we are like “fuck this” we are taking a stand. I am tired of how things used to work. I know you guys started this and you are the pioneers. We will never forget this… we will never forget it, nobody can change that in history. But this is a new story now, this is a new age. A new generation is taking over and they mustn’t be afraid to give us the torch because we are going to let it burn bright.

 

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