Humble genius Cassper Nyovest answers his critics with Thuto

For the past couple of years, it’s been damn near impossible to separate Cassper Nyovest from his humility – it was in every Tweet, every Instagram caption, every interview and eventually it got on every one of my nerves. At first I didn’t understand why, and I thought he bothered me, but the more I seethed internally about every ‘I’m so blessed and so humble’ the more I realised that it wasn’t about him at all.

Of course I understood that when The Powers That Be do so much for, and with, you that you fall at their mercy in awe. But I didn’t understand why humility is always forced upon successful black people and stressed as a trait one should have. One should be ecstatic, it seems, to have a seat at the table and not celebrate it despite how hard one might have worked for it, and earned it.

I was waiting for the bravado, the entitlement, for him to sit back finally and bask in his own glory because he deserved it.

Nyovest rose from strength to strength but there still remained a pungent stench of society’s expectations of him lingering as far as his image was concerned. He was the ‘Good Guy’ – during that well publicised beef, in person, in his community, back home in Mafikeng – and a part of me was always waiting for him to show up to the rap life and, for lack of a better term, be an asshole.

I was waiting for the bravado, the entitlement, for him to sit back finally and bask in his own glory because he deserved it.

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My frustration with his image wasn’t about him at all, but rather a projection of how I felt about what kind of lives successful black people tend to lead. I was frustrated about the fact that even when you bust your ass, you’re still expected to not say you did. And no matter how many accolades you get, some people will still refuse you your praise because they don’t like where you came from.

Had anyone said, when he first appeared on our screens with his debut single Gusheshe, that the blonde-ponytailed chubby dude from Maftown would one day soon have his own cellphone, platinum-selling albums as well as be an ambassador for international brands like Ciroc, I would have laughed in their face. Many people would have. Gusheshe was a catchy song but it gave no glimpse that the man behind it was a fucking mastermind.

See, even when I wasn’t a huge fan of the man, I never believed anything Cassper did was a mistake – he had too many Wins for it to be by chance. Hell, even that tired beef he had did him some good. It was always intriguing to me how he was undermined by the media, the industry, and even some ‘fans’, and yet he still managed to Fill up the Dome and collaborate with artists no other African artist could say they so much as got a follow back on Twitter from. The man’s focus was unmatched, his work ethic unparalleled and the world around him reacted accordingly – with adoration, respect, support and lots and lots of money.

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Now, if you’ve ever listened to a Cassper Nyovest album you know two things:

  1. They’re long as shit.
  2. His sound is very versatile and he caters for everyone – fans from the North to the Kasi and the Braam cool kids in between. Really, who else can say they’ve collaborated with the Mahotella Queens and DJ Drama?

Point number 2 however made it hard for some fans to really get into him as a hip-hop artist. Hip hop isn’t much for variety and experimentation beyond the genre and the fact that he easily (and successfully) moved between the rap/Kwaito/Gqom genres had some of the yute dem shook.

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‘Why yes, we all loved Ngud’ and Slyza Tsotsi but you’re also going toe to toe with the biggest hip-hop act in South Africa so where exactly should we put you?’ was the vibe for a bit, especially because at some point it seemed like the gatekeepers of the South African hip-hop industry had banded together to shun the dude who didn’t fit into their well manicured image (You can hear this referenced completely or in passing on about 90 per cent of his verses).

With the release of Tito Mboweni, however, it became apparent that Nyovest had finally had time to stop and look around for a second at what he’d managed to create. He didn’t need the industry cool kids’ acceptance, his fans accepted him, and they were loyal. His team was loyal and talented beyond measure. His friends were loyal. He had everything.

Tito Mboweni wasn’t just a catchy song; it was a celebration of himself – of what he’d managed to do for not just him, but those around him. It was Serena throwing down the racquet after a win; Beyoncé throwing down her mic and announcing Blue Ivy to the world at the VMAs – simply put, it was success and even those who claimed to hate the song must have felt that.

With his third album, Thuto, Cassper not only shows up, he shows out. It’s a perfect snapshot of where he is now as an artist and as a man and the honesty and clarity he shares on tracks like I wasn’t ready for you ft Tshego has finally made a whole and complete fan out of me.

Thuto is the album I’ve been waiting for from Nyovest.

We’ve had two albums of nostalgia and second guessing and humility. Thuto is the album I’ve been waiting for from Nyovest. The work of someone who has earned the right to tell you what the fuck is really up – about business, love, life, things that matter.

Nyovest on Thuto is confident, sturdy and inspiring in the way only experience can be and this is what I’ve been waiting for not just as a consumer and a listener but someone who’s watched the come up of a young man everybody wanted to only ID as a dropout from Mafikeng.

Cassper Nyovest has finally showed up to his own party and to quote the man himself: ‘Y’all came here in an Uber, nna re tlile ka masepa’.

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