Spotlight on South African Hip Hop...

I don't hear very much about South African hip hop in the UK despite the number of amazing artists out there. It was actually made illegal during apartheid & was only legalised in 1993 which is a part of what makes their MCs so passionate, fiercely intellectual, political, and often very angry. I have to say it's some of the most exciting hip hop I've heard - some people don't like the accent but the rolling Rs, crackling alliteration and vicious raspiness feels like a refreshing slap to my often underwhelmed brain.

I'm sure most people have heard about Ben Sharpa at some point, he's one of South Africa's best known MCs and I first heard about him when I used to work with the king of Hip Hop Theatre Jonzi D (you going to Breakin' Convention next weekend by the way?!).

"Hegemony" by Ben Sharpa

I also met Konfab through Jonz at a Hip Hop Theatre Workshop. Konfab came out on stage, militant and marching - informing us there was no "C" in AfriKa, he told us his full name which took about 5 minutes and at times sounded like a cacophony of bullets, kicked the most intellectual freestyle I've ever heard about Joseph Conrad, then asked us if we wanted to come back to South Afrika with him. The roaring response was a sea of fists pumping YES.

"How We Roll" Konfab ft Jaak

Kwaito - which many feel is the true, home-grown voice of the ghettos in South Africa comes from an Afrikaans word "Kwaai" which means anger, and the word "amakwaitosi" means "gangster". It's a bit like slowed down house music with singing or chanting (often in more than one language in one song) and also incorporates samples from African music. Zola is one of the most famous artists from the kwaito scene to make hip hop as well.
"Kwaito kids are made from hunger, abuse, no father, violence, guns. Now as adults we must change the game for the better. Now we must change everything we are made from. " -Zola
This song is from the film Tsotsi. "Mdlwembe" by Zola