Hip Hop has always been art. It has never been enough to just have an ear for music, great lyrical content and a skill to fuse the two and make a hit. You needed to go much further than that. You needed to be multi-dimensional, the ability to take your listeners through a musical journey, to grab them and never let up, the transitions and transpositions, just when they think you’ve given them your best shot, you expand, the ability to explore in your song all the possible dimension of music.
Cassper Nyovest has delivered this artistry so infectious and with great energy that hits you and never let up. A chorus should never be the best part of the song and people should never have to tolerate the rest of your song just because it has a nice chorus. Cassper has the ability to make his choruses as beautiful as every other part of his songs, so that musically, he is the most complete artist whose songs you never want to end.
When ‘Doc Shebeleza’ came out, there was of course the inevitable question of whether was this simply a paying of homage to the Don, or yet another artist repackaging an old song with a touch of modernity. Cassper’s ‘Doc Shebeleza’ was neither. This was simply an artist announcing his arrival (to say nothing of ‘Gusheshe’ – another great track) and the level of impact he intends to make. ‘Doc Shebeleza’ himself remains in our psych’s long after his last hit.
Cassper Nyovest is not an artist looking for approval from all you outsiders. He seems single-minded about where he is headed. Cassper seems comfortable in his disheveled elegance. He gives you the sense of someone who is everything he said he would be. It shows in his music so poignantly, so that listening to his music you never feel like you must do anything but to just feel great.
As a listener you feel no pressure to find out what the real theme of ‘Doc Shebeleza’ is about. Of course the sneakers, the long cigars, the charcoal black coupes, greeting the gods at the gate, the beautiful women with unending legs, the township community and the endless good times, it’s all there. This is a man boasting of his escapades to his friends, this is a man back home like a king. As all rappers, Cassper addresses his story, from his exes to his ambitions, and here he plays the script so beautifully; so that as a listener you start feeling good about your own story and where you are headed.
There is today no more impactful rapper than Cassper Nyovest and it takes a watch at his live performances to see this, as the audiences sing along to his every lyric.
Following his much talked about feud with AKA on twitter, Cassper would come out of it (defying KO’s warning of the twitter feuds and their potential to end careers) with a song, ‘Phumakim’, that would capture the imagination of the Hip Hop followers, in the way that Mafia Music would cement Rick Ross’s career, right when it was supposed to end after revelations of his CO past. Some artists give their best work right when they are being pressed from many sides.
‘Phumakim’ is a very clear and targeted song. It is a song of defiance. It’s Hip Hop as we have come to know it; a contact spot with occasional jabs that says, ‘nigga go back to the kitchen and cook up something better than what you doing right now, otherwise the streets is mine’. What makes it even more exciting is that these are two rappers who don’t take s@#t from anybody, because that is not the way of the OG’s. Feuds in general only make sense if the artists are equally talented.
‘Phumakim’ is more than just a feud song. It is not unlike that old Wale song ‘Shades’. ‘I never fitted with them light skinned, I never fitted in their quotas, but I’m eating all day’. Cassper is walking his own lane, musically, his style, but is fully aware that the throne is for the taking.
‘Doc Shebeleza’ and ‘Phumakim’ went on to set the best stage for Cassper to release his debut album and with no fear of exaggeration, it is an album to have and to hold. Tsholofelo went to number 1 on iTunes South African albums chart for 2 consecutive months. ‘Tsibip’ immediately standout outside of the already celebrated singles that are still doing the rounds around the country. This is one of the most complete bodies of work we will get from the pool of our talented MCs. It’s an album as complete as the artist himself.