It is hard to find conscious Rap in the commercial scene and thus, it is preserved predominately by rebel artists. It is also hard to find rebel artists in the commercial scene and consequently, they dominate the underground scenes. The painful thing is that their indispensable conscious message cannot reach many ears due to lack, if any, of airplay on radios and it’s very rare for one to see their videos on television.
I recently conducted an interview with Daveyton born and bred conscious MC Khumbulani Claude Nebe. Daveyton is the ghetto township in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in South Africa. It borders Etwatwa to the north, Springs to the east, Benoni to the south, and Boksburg to the West. The East Rand is known for possessing vast amounts of dope MCs and I personally feel like it is the Brooklyn, New York of South Africa.
Khumbulani Claude Nebe is known by his stage name “Maradona” and to some of his fans, he is just “Dona.” According to his utterances, his name came in a dream. He was falling and and as he was about to hit the ground, he heard a voice wailing “Dona!” He started rhyming in 1993 through the inspiration he drew by listening to the likes of Shaggy and Shabbaranks around 1991 and 1992 but mostly he was inspired by radio, television and books and also that artistic need in him to shine.
By 1998, he had already established himself as East Rand’s rap elite with the crew called Suthu Tribe. They later split. He then hustled as a solo artist until he met Third World Riderz in 2004. They got the streets gyrating up until their split in 2006. He then underwent Ukuthwasa Ritual (Initiation to Shamanism) in 2009 and he is currently looking for a record deal.
He said his style of rhyming is personal and emotive. I asked him what motivated him to write the song “Not A Thug” which featured on HYPE Sessions Mixtape Volume 16 and he answered: “One day I was in town. I was about to cross paths with this Indian woman, and she just quickly opted to walk on the tar road – so that anybody could see her in case I rob her. That made me ask a lot about myself.”
I then asked him if he could be the President of the Republic of South Africa, what would he do to bridge or minimize the huge gap between rich and poor. He answered: “I would study what and how our Kings used to balance society. Then modernize that and try to plant the same seed in my successor, because I believe the only way to lead Africa is to be modernly African, mixed with a bit of 26ism of course – no joke!”