May 3, 2023

Skwatta Kamp On: The History of Mzansi Hip Hop | Umoya hit Song | Is Amapiano Silencing Hip Hop?

Relo, Shugela, Bozza, Nemza, Slikour… Hauweng!!



When did Mzansi Hip hop evolve and who were the few artists to be on the Spotlight by the time around the area where Skwatta Kamp come from?

I think… That’s a broad question because it’s either commercially or just in the space but like Prophets of Da City and Black Noise literally were the pioneers of hip hop in South Africa and they were travelling the world and Skwatta Kamp introduced the mainstream as the South African hip hop and that’s when started seeing greater participation because we were rooted in Johannesburg where things happened while Prophets of Da City and Black Noise where from Cape Town
So easily, one could say it started really evolving commercially around 2003/4 but from existing; it could have easily been like 1990… something like that, I mean we are on 40 years of hip hop in South Africa this year

What were the Good and Bad things about Mzansi Hip hop back in the Days according to Your Experiences?

At a time when we started, we were trying to convince everyone in the market that hip hop is valuable, the challenges were that the market thought it was an American thing because they had experienced hip hop from international acts. So we almost looked like copycats and it looked like it was not original. So first we got resistance from your community, radio, consumers and business, so it was the first thing that we needed to do with hip hop; and that was to convert people to see hip hop from a South African lands through South African artists and I think that was really the challenges when we started back then,

And the good thing was that it was highly communicative, the people who were doing hip hop, literally stuck together, although we had to do that factions of guys who were competing cos it’s competitive but essentially we stuck together and we had one goal and we all wanted to have one voice as we shared the same platforms, so I think that was the really the most powerful part of it when it started, it was the unity as different clans in different people from different areas, it brought communities together

Back in the days, Crews used to be Stronger, Nowadays Artists Prefer going Solo, How did you guys manage to survive as Skwatta Kamp?

I think everything is a sign of time that you don’t know you, don’t know… the bigger group at the time was Wu- Tang Clan, you know, we had groups like, Onyx, De La Soul… I mean there were so many hip hop groups that it felt like it was a norm, and yes you had your solo artists, but the group thing was more of a thing back then, so I guess it wasn’t a matter of survival because we weren’t in it for money, we were in it because we enjoyed the spot and firstly, we never even thought we would make money from it, so we then started making money, the money that we made was a lot for us, even though it was little when we split it, but it was still a lot and we figured out how to survive. It’s not like we were looking at some at the benchmark of this is how much we should have and we don’t have enough so we struggling, nah it’s never like that. So that was it, the survival wasn’t like a question, it’s like you weren’t get the money, you getting it now, how do you use it best

How did Hip hop manage to survive in the Midst of Kwaito back in the days ?

I don’t think hip hop literally survived, they Co-existed.

The question of how anything survives is almost like saying; how did the group of young people survive in an environment where there was a larger group of other young people who were interested in something else. It was just Co-existing, you know, there was no need to survive. It’s taste, you know, we see the world of social media, world of algorithms. People have different tastes you know and you can have a small community that has a certain taste, so I don’t think it was a matter of surviving, it was just a community that was Co-Existing and was also gradually growing at the same time

One of the Greatest Hits “Umoya”, how did the song come about and what did it mean to you guys that the song took the whole South Africa by a storm?

Umoya is an example of a song that was in part of our creative process, it wasn’t even a song that was like earmarked as a single, we were looking at a song just like “Animal” in the album to release as a single, the album was “Mkhukhu Funkshen
So Umoya wasn’t even a song we had foreseen to becoming a single because the sound was different you know, it never sounded like the hip hop songs that were out there at the time. We had “Animal” which had the aggression of hip hop and the bounce of hip hop and the metaphorical approach.
So that’s what we thought was gonna be our song, because when people heard it, they just caught it right?
But Umoya Radio played and we saw how the crowd received it, it was really the song that changed the trajectory and the perception of South African hip hop from an audio perspective for the Masses. So we never saw that coming, Everything is in highsight at this point, in the process saying we know what the song was gonna say

Would you Say Amapiano is slowly Silencing or Killing Mzansi Hip hop?

I think that every genre has it’s s phase, similarly to kwaito has its phase and hip hop has its phase then there was Afro pop… Afro pop was a thing, then hip hop came back, then house a little bit, then we had Gqom, then now it’s amapiano.

Everything has its phase and window of existence. Sometimes it is not the genre that dying but actually the youth that’s evolving, you find a new group of young people who have a particular sound (that is amapiano) and there’s a new generation of young people who will have another sound.
But what we see today is that kids are not even basing their interests in music based on one genre ,
We have this variety of interests in music right now, where people are doing different genres, so I don’t think it’s dying but once again it’s co-existing but it is not Co-existing with the momentum it had a few years ago and it’s the natural cause of consumer and music genres
Do I think the genre dies? It will never die because you find the amapiano guys dressing like the hip hop guys, it’s just the sound that literally evolves. You look at Uncle Waffles, she looks completely like she’s a hip hop chick you know, so it’s just a sound but the hip hop will never die if you look at the culture, hip hop won’t die, hip hop will always be the wardrobe, it will always be the move, a mind state, it will always be Co-existing in young people’s minds, it will always be the rebel which is what hip hop is.
So… maybe the sound not impactful as it was but I don’t see it dying,

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