A year since the release of his debut album ‘B4Now’, Blxckie takes a moment to look back and celebrate.
It had been close to five years since a South African rapper had blown up since A-Reece and Nasty C. See, South Africa has a lot of rappers, but it’s not a majority of them who become crossover superstars. For years, that gap existed and would only be filled in in 2021. By the time Blxckie released his debut album B4Now a year ago, it was inevitable he was, as he rapped on ‘David’, on his way up.
A year since the release of B4Now, which was recorded at producer 808 Sallie’s place during the first lockdown of 2020, Blxckie is evidently proud. “I didn’t want to have a crazy concept in my debut album,” he says during the launch of his collaboration with fashion brand RedBat at Sportscene in Sandton City Mall towards the end of May. “This is who I am, if ever people want to know who I am, they can go listen to it and pretty much know who Blxckie is.”
The journey Blxckie took has been taken by many before — leave your hometown for the big city with your big dreams. But, very few return home stars. For the rest of 2021, Blxckie, who left Durban a hopeful SoundCloud rapper in 2020, was the most sought-after rapper in South Africa; a Blxckie verse became the cheat code; the list of collaborators ranges from Priddy Ugly to DJ Maphorisa, Young Stunna and Ckay. The streams soared organically. Blxckie is a rapper’s rapper who’s able to incorporate amapiano and R&B into his music without confusing or insulting his core fanbase. A natural charismatic star.
B4Now was a mixture of hard raps and melodies over mostly trap-based production. Fan-favourite ‘Sika’, an extra smooth joint where he sings over a beat carried by the log drum, was a fruitful experimentation with amapiano. The single ‘Kwenzekile’ featuring Madumane and Chang Chello, released in September 2021, took off where ‘Sika’ left off. His follow-up to B4Now, an R&B EP titled 4LUV, was released fittingly during the month of love. “It’s a project I put together recently to show a different side of myself. After seeing the success of ‘Hold’ and other love songs that I have out,” he said at the EP’s listening session held in Bryanston.
The song ‘Umoya’ from 4LUV is another sibling of ‘Sika’. ‘Umoya’, Blxckie reveals, was made two days after ‘Kwenzekile’. “Shout out to Herc,” he said, “We’ve been trying to create a certain sound which is slowing down amapiano beats, have super crazy chord progressions and just sing over them instead of just rapping. I have a knack and love for kwaito and slow tempo type of things and to sing on them is a joy to me. Seeing the success of “kwenzekile” and sika, I was like it would be dope to have a song of that genre we tryna create and just make it more romantic.”
Blxckie moves like water; he’s smooth yet vicious, and allows his path to guide him to avoid disturbing his momentum. But he’s still subversive enough to avoid predictability. He adds his own touch to whatever genre he chooses to explore.
Today, it’s back to the raps. As he launches the RedBat collaboration, his new song ‘Khuphuka’ is only several hours old. ‘Khuphuka’, which leans on a catchy hook that has the ability to start mosh pits, is a rap song that finds Blxckie trying to break down how he was able to attain this level of success. “How I got all of this money, bro I don’t remember,” he raps on the hook.
‘Khuphuka’ captures Blxckie coming to terms with his success. He tells the audience he’s kind of been on autopilot the past year. “Because my blow-up happened during the lockdown, I haven’t experienced fame that much,” he tells a fan who asks him how life has been since he became a star. “It’s only when I go back home that I get to feel it.”
The last two weeks have been a consolidation of Blxckie’s journey. Two weeks ago, he was handed a total of 10 plaques one for a double-platinum single, three for platinum singles, five for gold singles and one for B4Now going gold. Some rappers go their whole careers without achieving what Somnyana achieved in just one year.
Congratulating Blxckie on Twitter, Cassper Nyovest stated the obvious when he called him “the hottest in the game right now”.
His collaboration with RedBat on a series of T-shirts is a celebration of the first anniversary of B4Now’s release, a tangible token for him and his fans. He shares he was involved in the creation of the items. During the launch, he is asked about the colour green which dominates the range of Ts and is the colour of his grills. “It represents Blxckie,” he says. “Any post that I make is pretty much green. I used to watch a lot of National Geographic growing up and it kind of etched into my head.”
His raps and infamous ‘ye ye ye ye’ adlibs will be etched in our heads years from now. As Blxckie takes the moment in, he attributes his success to consistency and having a good team.