It’s a big day for SA hip hop today: heavyweights AKA, K.O and Nasty C are touring together for the very first time. They’re set to hit Witbank this evening and Soweto’s Zone 6 Venue tomorrow. The tour follows the major buzz that’s accompanied the recent release of Bang Out. It’s the latest single from Cashtime Life DJ and the respected scholar of SA hip hop, DJ Vigilante, and it features all three rappers.
People in SA really believe in hip hop.
‘I was speaking to K.O and Thabiso (Cashtime Life CEO), and I was just saying that it’s kind of strange that we always look to American artists and what they’re doing,’ DJ Vigilante told me, explaining the inspiration behind the tour. ‘But we’ve also gotten the culture to the point where people in SA really believe in hip hop. I think we need to start playing our own part and start getting involved by engaging more with the fans through tours and stuff like that.’
DJ Vigilante is excited by the prospect of engaging with the fans on his own tour. ‘I’ve got AKA, K.O and Nasty C on one record which is big in itself. I want this tour to be curated by me and the fans, so I’ve been asking people to tweet me their track lists. I know a whole lot of people will be asking for local songs, so I have to put those in my set.’
Each artist will perform a 45-minute sets and there’ll be guests too. ‘For the Soweto one, I’m gonna call a few friends who I’ve collaborated with and I’ll be closing it off with a few big surprises for the fans.”
He used a similar formula to his three previous major singles Pasop, Sorry Makhe and God’s Will when putting this song together. ‘You don’t want to go with beats that are too similar with what’s making the rounds in the market. Right now, the sound is heavy trap. So I decided to distance myself a bit and try doing something different.’
‘Nasty was the first to get to the studio,’ he recalls of the Bang Out recording session. ‘Then AKA came through, and he’d already written something. The last person to come was K.O. Ay man, K.O and time don’t go together. I always say that when he gets married, he’ll probably be late for his own wedding.’ There was a genuine camaraderie in the studio, he recalls. ‘It was just a whole thing of let’s just finesse with the raps. Let’s just bang out the song.’
Bang Out signals a shift in the SA rap scene which has traditionally seen some of the biggest artists reluctant to collaborate over the years.
The song itself continues to divide opinion on social media. Some have found it underwhelming considering the a-list artists it features, while others have been furiously debating who had the best verse on the song. ‘The fans will always compare and rank them, we knew that was gonna happen. But for us it was just about having fun. I’m a hip-hop fan so I listen to lyrics. Every time I listen to Bang Out, I go back and I’m like “damn, so this is what K.O was saying here” and I just kind of sit down and decode things.’
Bang Out signals a shift in the SA rap scene which has traditionally seen some of the biggest artists reluctant to collaborate over the years. Nasty C and AKA were rumoured to been embroiled in long-running feud until a picture of them standing outside Raw X Studios emerged on social media.
This is perhaps the most exciting time to be a South African hip-hop fan.
After Cassper Nyovest expressed how his beef with AKA messed up his relationship with Cashtime in his diss track Dust 2 Dust, that situation seems to have been resolved with DJ Vigilante set to release a song with Cassper soon. The game is reinventing itself and artists are starting to collaborate more. This is perhaps the most exciting time to be a South African hip-hop fan.
‘I was chatting to someone the other day about how we’ve lost the sound since 2014, which was the year of SA hip hop. But I feel like we’ve grown into different sounds, which is what’s great about new talent coming out. It shows the growth of the game. I have a feeling that this year, we’re going to go back to that 2014 hype.’
DJ Vigilante chose five SA hip-hop songs which changed things:
1. Umoya by Skwatta Kamp
2. Bhampa by Pro KiD
3. Caracara by K.O
4. Go Away by Teargas
5. Doc Shebeleza by Cassper Nyovest