By Kevin Gitau
This is probably one of the articles I have wanted to do for the longest time widely because of my interest and appreciation for South African music runs very deep.
I was having a robust discussion about African music with a friend of mine recently: ‘what’s going on?’ ‘Where is it headed?’ I find myself, as in during many occasions when talking about South African hip hop, going on and on about 25-year-old double platinum artist Refiloe Maele Phoolo, also known as Cassper Nyovest. This brother, who not only does hip hop but also figures a way of throwing some motswako in his music, has grown from being just another hip hop artist in South Africa to in my opinion, The Biggest Rapper in Africa.
Meet Cassper Nyovest
Born in Mafikeng in the northwest province of South Africa, Cassper started rapping at the age of 12 and by the age of 16, he had decided to drop-out of school and pursue his dreams. From Childhood Gangster to Slow Motion, both of which were groups that young Refiloe was part of, to signing with Impact Sounds – Cassper got his first break after Motswako rapper and Legend HHP spotted him at a performance and featured him on his album Dumela.
I heard about him in 2013 when a friend shared his video “Gusheshe” which featured rapper Okmalumkoolkat. Right there and then, these were my exact words: “This wena is too swaggy for life.” I quote these words not just as a show of my plethora use of the word “swaggy”, but it’s from this phrase that I got interested in understanding what he was about. A lot of times artists forget the fact that we the fans will choose to listen to their music, from the first impression we get, kind of like a business pitch and Cassper was straight up legit!
I chose to start with Cassper Nyovest because he has manifested every thought I’ve had for him, not just visually but with his performances and his music – this might seem like something too farfetched to say but It might occur to you as it did for me that his hit single “Doc Shebeleza” had the same success and impact as Kanye’s “POWER.”
So before I make it seem like this article is only featuring Cassper Nyovest, let’s talk about other promising rappers, but not before I speak my musical prophecy: “Let it be known that from where I sit and from what Cassper has done for the game in less than 3 years, I strongly feel that Cassper Nyovest will be the greatest Rapper to come out Africa from our generation. Watch it manifest.”
Meet Riky Rik
Sitting behind Cassper production and also a close friend of the rapper is Riky Rik. Riky blows my mind every time with his thinking.
Riky and Cassper are like Kanye and Hov – the chemistry is flawless and they make a good team though Cassper’s success feels wider than that of Riky’s, still their wavelengths in terms of music and diversity are almost the same. Riky’s production commands attention like how his visuals are supported by great visual directors like award-winning Kyle Lewis. His attention to detail and his art is brought out through his boldness even in his dressing, still suprises me. The Kwazulu-Natal born rapper whose album Family Values released last year went certified Gold.
This is not another story about the hood; this is a story about a thug living with 6 wives and one dangerous man in the hood.