hip hop music

April 13, 2004

South African Hip-Hop: Skwatta Camp in Slate

A few months ago our radio show had a visitor all the way from South Africa, a top dog from one of their biggest record labels, Gallo Music Group. He told us about one of their recent signings, a rap group he said is one of the hottest acts out down there, and he played one of their tracks for us.

Although he seemed quite trustworthy, I had no way of knowing at the time whether he was just blowing smoke about how big his group was.. but judging by the profile that group, Skwatta Camp, just got in Slate, I guess he spoke the truth.

Soweto Hip-Hop

Shugasmakx and Sliquor strutted into the cafe, baggy jeans hanging low on their hips, their pants bunched up above new pairs of Adidas sneakers. With their hat brims pulled low over their eyes, they looked like kids I might run into on a college campus in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago.

"Hey, what's up, sistah?" Shugasmakx greeted me with a complicated handshake and coolly plopped down at the table.

Shugasmakx and Sliquor, two of the seven members of the hip-hop group Skwatta Camp, are among South Africa's brightest stars. Their latest CD, Mkhukhu Funkshen, released last year by Gallo Music Group, was the first rap album to go gold in South Africa...

...My two guests have faint memories of apartheid; they were still children when Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994, and they represent the first black South African generation to grow up in a post-apartheid nation.

"We've aligned our music strongly with the economic struggle, with what people are going through," 21-year-old Shugsmakx told me as he sipped on a fruit shake, which he pushed out of frame before I took his photograph, so that he'd look tough. "We are the youth. We have a voice and need to speak. … We talk about things that happen around us, we just reflect the world..."

...Although Skwatta Camp may look and sound American, they are distinctly South African. Their lyrics express disillusionment with the revered ANC of the liberation struggle and caustically criticize the government for leaving "the people" behind in its scramble to the top...

(Note to the author: The proper abbreviation of microphone is "mic," not "mike." No matter what K Solo tells you.)

While we're on this topic I should shout out another cool brother who once visited us from Cape Town, Shaheen of the legendary Bushradio crew, who's been representing conscious hip-hop radio down there for over ten years now.

I'd love to hear their perspective on Skwatta Camp's anti-ANC stance, which I am not equipped to judge. Hopefully someone who lives there will swing by this post and offer their thoughts.

(via quarterwit)

Posted by jsmooth995 at April 13, 2004 2:57 AM

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