Hemelbesem – on why we need to put our rappers on big pedastals

In the latest issue of HYPE that sports Reason on the cover, we got an exclusive with revered Afrikaans rapper Hemelbesem. Here’s more from that interview that you didn’t get to see in the magazine. He talks about rocking stages with Talib, the idea behind the name of his albumThe YMCMBesem (You Must Come Meet Besem), working with Afrikaans lyrical God Isaac Mutant and why Afrikaans raps are more skillful than any other language.

HYPE: What was it like rocking stages with Talib Kweli and Pharoahe Monch?

Hemelbesem: What do think? [laughs]. I’m a fan of both their work. But you know how it goes at these things. You rarely sit down with these type of dudes, so in the end it was just a huge honor to be mentioned on the same poster as them; something I’ll treasure forever. Jean Grae was the more accessible of the. To be honest though, I would be more excited to be on the same stage as HHP, Proverb, Zubz, Driemanskap, Jaak and Bittereinder. Oh and definitely Immortal technique! I’m more of a heart on the sleeve dude, and home is where my heart is. South Africa. We must put our own celebs on the pedestals we put international artists on. We came a long way.

Producer and musician, Dokte, has taken your music under his wing and really put a well-polished project together. Who’s idea was it to name the album The YMCMBesem?

A friend, Dimitri Kiewiet, early last year just mentioned it on my Facebook wall : YMCMB = You Must Come Meet Besem. I think I immediatly deleted that and inboxed him saying, “Keep that quiet, I’m gonna use that later”. When  me and Dok connected I mentioned that I wanted to do a track called YMCMBesem, and after we finished the track and some of the other songs, the idea turned into the name for the EP. It seemed catchy.

You’ve got a track with a legendary Afrikaans rap God Isaac Mutant. Describe working with him. The track ‘Koes Koes’ is quite up tempo and could make a radio/club banger – something we’re not used to hearing Isaac rap on.

I’ve actually recorded a full album called DOUBLE STORY with Isaac Mutant earlier last year. On that project we tried everything from serious, heartfelt stuff to comedic and even borderline silly things. I read some awesome reviews on that album and people are still raving about it. Isaac is Isaac. Working with him you got to first learn to who he is as a person, and I’ve known him for very long so I’ve accomplished some of that. I’ve learned a lot during our work together and hopefully inspired him also to a certain extent. We recorded over a period of roughly 3 months, and ‘Koes Koes’ is originally Isaac’s song that he never actually recorded but performed a couple of times. I asked him to do that track on a Seth Grey production and do a “remix” with me on it as well. In the end we felt that the track had more potential than just a song on Double Story and we knew we were gonna push YMCMBesem to a larger audience, so why not throw it in the mix?

What’s your take on Afrikaans rap in that it’s found a home in the commercial arena thanks to the likes of Die Antwoord and Jack Parow.

I’m not a biased cat when it comes to music, especially since I’m a radio DJ as well, but some of the most skillful rappers I’ve heard in the last 10 years were not in English. Very few MCs can touch the flow of guys like Jaak and Cream for instance.

You have three more weeks to copy the June/July issue of HYPE to check out the full length interview and a whole lot more from cats like Reason, Blaklez, Dbanj, Kid Cudi, Morale, MOP, Skyzoo and more!


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