We receive a lot of submissions here on the site, and some of it may go unnoticed due to a wide range of factors. So I’ve decided to pick up the bits which fall through the cracks and write a few words about each one. There will also be a one-on-one with a selected artist. Please note that this feature is geared towards the artists who may not have got a write-up on any platform as yet. So if you’re that way inclined, send us your music.
“I wrote this song as a dedication to my mother for Mother’s Day”, went the mail sent to the team by Alpha-Centauri, a Zim-based emcee who usually raps in English, but decided to give Shona a bash on this particular song. “Hey mom, you always wanted me to rap in Shona, so I put this verse together for you”, he says during the intermission before the third verse. The song’s celebratory approach and raw emotion captures in detail how Alpha Centauri feels about his mother; the love, the appreciation, the love and understanding of a mother-son relationship. Bar from the rather cheesy chorus, this is a decent song.
Quotable: “She’s the beacon that’s keeping the lights on bright“
It’s becoming more apparent that braggadocio has permeated African hip hop, with at-times overtly materialistic utterances from prominent artists in the mainstream. The underground brags too, sometimes overtly. What impresses is when a rapper takes subtle stabs which blur the line between quiet confidence and outright bragging. P. Chris’s conviction as he raps betrays his newcomer status to recording. According to his soundcloud, this is his first recording. He might strike a chord with a wider audience in South Africa due to his clever usage of English rhymes and a Xhosa chorus. However, only time can tell.
When Polecat, a sound engineering graduate hailing from Cape Town yet now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, sent us this brilliantly-crafted tale about his roots in the Eastern Cape, we couldn’t help but salivate. He is currently working with the very talented Dome Ts’otetsi, producer for the likes of PRO, etc. We caught up with Polecat for a short QnA.
(NB: can you spot the overly-sampled James Brown song on this beat?)
Please share a bit of your background, where are you from, and how was it growing up there?
Born Luyanda Duda in 1989, from a small township called New Cross Roads between Gugulethu & Phillipi in Cape Town. I come from a family where success is best represented by doing something “proper” in a suit and tie. Growing up in the township had its fair share of obstacles; being raised by my grandparents, having a non-existent biological mother at the age of 6 (that was when I began primary). Soccer was my everything then, until a family friend who introduced me to some clique named The Outsiders in the Khayelitsha township. I still remember I was the youngest kid in that shack; I knew nothing, I stood and watched them ninjas doing their thing, until they wrote and gave me a 16-bar script to rehearse. From that day I never looked back, never went back to that shack either!
“Insikelelo” has a heavy influence of choral music, is this something big where you’re from? What inspired the song?
Not really something big but knowing Cape Town and its musical richness I’m not surprised by my abilities to cook something solid and musical in-terms of cross genre collaborations. Look, I don’t rap about things that are irrelevant, I tell my own stories and experiences. Last year I slept in comma for two weeks; when I woke up I thanked God and my Ancestors. Everyday hustle and that kid in the backyard trying too hard to get out the hood is what inspired the song!
Is it essential for you to incorporate South African elements into your music? Why?
I’m on a journey of showing and reminding the world that South African Culture is also a lifestyle and I’m taking my music with me. So whether I like it or not, those elements have to be there. It’s who I am, South African, you feel me?! Although I believe in balance and mixing it up, here it made sense for me to script my first official record in Xhosa, though it was a difficult but fun challenge. I’m still getting used to idea of writing in Xhosa, learning the proper phrases and words.