How To Develop SA Hip Hop

SA Hip Hop has been on the mainstream for quite some time yet it’s still struggling to breakthrough in terms of sales, the same way other Urban Pop genres have achieved.
Therefore I decided to speak to some of those who active and directly involved in SA Hip Hop, about what they think the problem is and what should be done to develop SA Hip Hop.
This is what they had to say:

iFani hay

“There is a great following but little buyers, it’s not really cool to buy – easier to download tracks. What’s great on one hand is that u have so many producers who are making music in bedrooms and kitchens.

I don’t think it’s a case of anything going wrong. It’s where most artists’ heads were and ultimately it’s the hip hop heads, media and the public that determine where music goes. If radio played a different role and you don’t have a player and referee situation like you have on some radio stations, it would be healthier. With everybody and their dog managing to have a studio in their bedroom or kitchen, this has lead to a lot of music being recorded that shouldn’t be recorded. The quality has been compromised with far to many wannabes doing the music for the fame and more than likely to get laid. The “let my buddy be on a track so that we look cool” instead of “just how talented is this person…” or maybe wack rappers even paying credible rappers to do a feature is not really good for the music.

What needs to be done in order for SA Hip Hop to develop in all levels. Get the right compilers and gate keepers to radio and TV, who are able to feed the public great productions and music. Get rid of the clicks, people are not listening to the music rather the name that is rapping or worse still being influenced by the payola vibe.

* Payola – A bribe paid to DJs/Presenters/Compilers/Producers for TV or radio airplay in return.

We have some amazingly talented producers, if people gave the tracks the time they deserve. For example, don’t mix a track in 1 day, take 3 days and get it right. Then we will go somewhere. Sadly the “chasing the dollar” syndrome and bling lifestyle is not going to go away for a while, and that in my mind is one reason that we are going to have a hard time giving the real talent a chance to be exposed, but you will never be able to keep real talent down…it’s there and it will eventually get its shine.”

“There are various ways to build any industry not just a hip hop industry. The world loves patterns and consistency. Once the world understands your pattern and your consistency it finds a way to plug into your movement and makes you a part of the bigger world. When I talk world I mean consumers, broadcasters and corporates. What the local industry lacks not just hip hop, is that pattern and consistency that feeds the world. We don’t have a constant output of content to feed broadcasters to respect us as a consistent industry so they rely on the states, we don’t have a delivery pattern so they put their trust on majors who will constantly deliver something weekly whether it’s from a big artist like Eminem, Beyonce or some country music. This is because majors represent groups. So Universal maybe represents Def Jam, Interscope, Geffen and already they deliver each artists content according to a consistent priority which the world has adopted as a pattern.

Do some research and see who the artists under these groups are and realize that they are not big because of just their talent but because of a consistent pattern or machine that’s been built around them. The only difference between each one of them is budget allocation.

We are struggling to build an industry because we’re always talking about the problems but we not talking about our businesses processes to learn from each other or build each other to create processes that the world will respect.

The only reason brands are willing to fork out millions for international artists is because they’ve created a value for their pattern and consistency.
If our delivery pattern and consistency is ironed out people get adapted to it, we create a need, which creates a demand and people will be willing to pay for it because it’s reliable.
In my opinion that’s how industries are created if people can’t consistently access our music they lose interest and buy what’s available, if TV can’t consistently get our content they buy international, if we aren’t consistently sharing knowledge to build the respect and structure of our business the brands pay global artists the big bucks.

So yeah we can all think we’re different and smart but truth, of the matter there’s only one way to become an industry. When we look at what we have and make that work so even those sleeping realize they are left behind. That can only be done if we work as groups but as we’ve proven to the world many times we’re too competitive with ourselves and too incompetent to work with ourselves.”

“The state of Hip Hop in SA is becoming exciting year in and year out. There’s a new crop of artists that is coming out now, they are more business oriented, know what they want and are able to develop themselves into these brands that will have a longer life span than artists of yester years.

Recording companies were on the bandwagon of this culture and were not knowledgeable at all on this genre. Some were able to do their best to develop and promote artists. Some artists got caught in a frenzy of being known and becoming instant celebrities. This made them to forget about the actual business side of things. Record companies realized this as an opportunity to exploit these wanna-be superstars because they never had any business acumen.

Artistically, our artists are growing even though you find that there will be a couple who are totally missing the gist of their artistic delivery. Hip-Hop is growing steadily even though the sound has changed and just a number of things are changing. The interesting part is that artists today.

We always hear of development in soccer and all other sporting codes. Hip Hop needs development as well. Development must be conducted through Hip Hop Workshops, Hip Hop conferences, similar Moshito Music conference. Without development, we will be discussing this very same issue in 10 years from now.

Hip Hop artists are being recognized across the country and even in the African continent. The corporate business is also paying a lot of attention to this genre. Artists are getting into business deals with the corporate world that are worth at least a million rands, this is just the beginning. They are becoming more aware on how they should conduct business and how they treat themselves as brands.
SA Hip Hop is growing.”

“We have too many MC’s and not enough mics. More artists need to be developed into bigger platforms. Having said that, other aspects of Hip Hop are being ignored that’s why careers don’t reach greater heights. There are other careers than rapping in Hip Hop: Bloggers, Publishers, Lawyers, DJ’s, Accountants, Promoters and Distributors.
Pick one and become a game changer.”

“Together We Can Do More! This a simple guiding principal which is tried and tested! Selfishness is our biggest challenge as the South African Hip Hop community. Structurally we are laggard because Selfishness continues to stifle our growth!

Although this motto (working together we can do more) sounds simple, it requires consistent, selfless, non-discriminatory contributions from the entire Hip Hop community!
Empower someone, impart the Simple principal & encourage them to do the same!

The future is bleak if we continue to focus on self! Hip Hop will keep on creating a generation of unknown but incredibly talented ‘contributors’ who die with their ‘music still inside them’.

“Underground is still very much separated from commercial and each person has their own reasons as to why this is so.
Compare it with another genre like House music, you don’t find such distinctions.
This separation in Hip Hop bubbles up to the media and they too feel like they have to make the distinction and as a result the Hip Hop tracks that blow up are the ones that are considered commercial.
If we (the Hip Hop community) were to change this perspective and see Hip Hop as one then the people in the higher seats will also abandon their view and every rapper will then stand an equal chance of blowing up and since there will be more rappers in the game, Hip Hop will grow as a genre.
There’s also too much hate in Hip Hop at the moment. Rappers and fans alike are not appreciating each other and this is making us move at a turtle pace as Hip Hop.

Almost everyday I get a link on Facebook and Twitter to download some rapper’s song and sometimes they are emailed to me. I can confidently tell you that Hip Hop in our country does not lack any skills. These rappers are killing it out there. It’s just that no one is paying attention to them and they’re also not working hard enough to get their music out there. So artistically, we are very much fine. Problem is “blowing up”.

Think of Hip Hop as a sport like Boxing. Two men fighting each other until one wins. After some years, boxing became very lucrative and made millionaires out of folks who beat each other up inside a ring. Boxers kept boxing and fans kept watching. So where did the money come from? Educated and smart minds from other industries such as law and marketing. As Hip Hop we need to attract similar minds to our genre. How do we do that? By making music and performing as much as we can to our fans. By hosting ciphers and shows and gathering fans. But uniting as rappers and combining our fan base. Once the masses gather, our jobs as rappers is done. Smart minds who don’t rap will bring the money in.

If we don’t change today, the future will look just like today looks.
We need to unite as quickly as possible. Underground has to unite with commercial. Rappers have to unite with each other. Promoters have to make more shows and gather more crowds. No more spending time in your bedroom recording, it’s time to go out there and rap to the crowd. If the crowd is not there, create one. Then our future will be bright.”

“I think its high time artists show life through music. Most claim to be documenting life experiences through song but I think we do not tackle real issues that people are going through.

I feel the day we can each have a course to fight and stand for something then Hip Hop in SA will have better meaning.

If we can do more collaborations especially outside our very own genre.If we can stop taking our listeners for a ride by starting to produce authentic music.

As a movement and a culture, Hip Hop has lost its course.
It’s like a country with no leaders therefore lacks a form of responsibility.
A school with no teachers and principal therefore lacks in guidance, and a gain of insight
A hospital with no doctors. We are losing lives because we are not sharing the gospel on how to save lives.

The game needs leaders to give better direction. We have become hooligans who only care about making it and becoming stars.

We just have to overcome a few things but wither way we continue to March on.”

“SA Hip Hop is growing and hard working rappers are getting a bit of something. It might not be what they deserve but it’s something. Something to encourage them to push even more and work harder, but some take it as an insult because they feel they deserve more. Granted, Hip Hop culture is taking over the airwaves, TV commercials and all. Hard working rappers are soon to get what is rightfully theirs if they carry on with their hard work. The emphasis is on hard work because a lot of rappers sleep on that and claim stupid titles; they’re the dopest and deserve the respect. Well with that kind of mentality you won’t go anywhere, instead the dudes whom you feel they should bow down to you because of your level of skill will be the ones getting paid, getting all of that you talented MCs are supposed to be getting. There is a lot of talented rappers out there, hungry, angry, frustrated and all but some got themselves to blame because they are waiting for something to come them. Well gone are those day, hard workers get to eat regardless of their skill. It is unfortunate but it’s reality.

If you are not impressed with what you see on TV, hear on radio, watch on big events, then get up and do something about it and stop complaining.

The most important thing is working as a team rather than individuals because you can’t do everything by yourself, a strong team with united players always wins. You just need to have one goal, same dream, common vision, and you all must be in each other’s visions when you’re visualizing.
On this togetherness note, collaborations play an important role because we get to introduce each other to our different worlds. This mostly helps those who are still bubbling under when featured by the big acts. So all about building a forum and the willingness to share.
Hard work, focus and perseverance.
The industry is a mess but there is still bread there, we just need to be united and smart about it, we’ll all eat.
Together we stand.”

“I doubt there’s any winning formula. Right now, at the moment, I’m just being real to myself, real to the fullest hence the album is self-titled as ‘Zakwe’. I gave that nothing but me, so I can’t say if you do this, this is what works. We’re doing it all, we do good music, we do shows, we do tours, we do beautiful videos. You can never really say that this is what we should all do so we can sell. One thing I understand though, is how people have accepted South African Hip Hop, especially vernac rap. I know personally that the songs where I rap in vernac are the songs with most impact.
That’s part of being real too. That’s what I think”

“There’s already breath in the artform so what needs to happen is to start doing a full body study of Hip-Hop as the study is poor. MCs need to know the role of other elements. The focus seem to be 90% on Rap getting developed … The other elements make Rap look beautiful. Wen people(Non Hip-Hop) look at Graffiti on the walls of Jozi, the first thing that comes to their mind is “It’s Rappers that did this” and not all Graffiti artists Rap. DJs are also not getting enough credit and the ones that are making a come up need to work on the complete idea of Deejaying. Mixing and Lazy Stabs seem to be making one a DJ around here… And an average listener (Hip-Hopper) needs to start demanding more from whoever is on the decks as much as the prefer specific skills from wordsmiths.

Regular Workshops can help cover all relevant issues and demands for growth, and build our numbers depending on who’s organizing and what the direction is.

Hip-Hop down here is like Joburg to South Africa, first thing people(tourists) jump on is Soweto. So what we need to do is introduce the right thing to people. Give platform to every element evenly. It’s not easy to find good B-boys today in my area but going an extra mile to find them helps a lot, I get to show those who wanna be Breakers how it’s really done, and they can now go home to work on different styles…
Once again, the regular that happens. The better the wannabe grasps the concept.

For artists to work together, there has to be a constant and consistent activity that gets them moving.
That will surely see the numbers (following) grow.

Bottom line to my theory is, the Hip-Hop must be studied and understood. There are books on it yet most of us take advantage in its abandoned info and ignore the most important parts. We choose the artistic part of it yet very few balance art with the business side then later on, the successful get hated on by either the lazy and talented or the talented and uninformed.”

By the sound of things, we know what is wrong and what needs to be done but no one is doing anything about it.
It’s like we are waiting for somebody from somewhere to do things that will change the game for us.
Let’s talk less and do more.


Unity, Progress and Prosperity.

Rashid Kay


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