Five years since the release of her debut EP, 2017’s In Good Faith, Kay Faith finally dropped her debut album this month. Antithesis packs 10 tracks that showcase Kay Faith’s range and her scholarly approach to curation.
Cape Town’s new wave – Owethu, Kashcpt, Hanna, Holy Alpha – spazzes on ‘Top Ten’ over a crashing trap beat. Each artist represents a different demographic of Cape Town hip-hop, from the suburbs to the hood, and expat UCT students in the case of Hanna, who raps, “Now that my face is on the internet, that is her favourite seat,” in her verse – a standout among other solid verses.
Spreading more Cape Town flavour are Phresh Clique and Bandannie, who connect on the playful ‘Slay Queen’, which aims to reclaim the titular descriptor by an all-queer line-up. Bravo Le Roux slides effortlessly through a bumpy bassline on ‘Amamenemene’ alongside VenusRaps.
‘PROUDLY CAPETONIAN’, one of the oldest songs on Antithesis, isn’t only a leap forward for Kay Faith who passes YoungstaCPT a drill-leaning beat, but a song in which she brings together day-ones YoungstaCPT and E-Jay for a notable Y?Gen reunion of sorts; E-Jay was behind bars when the song was recorded, and the hook was repurposed from an old recording.
‘Township Deluxe’, a new age kwaito posse cut, featuring OGs like Blaklez, Kaygizm and KiD X, and young bucks like Maglera Doe Boy and AirDee, shows just how much of a student Kay Faith is, and how measured she is in her curation. She told Apple Music, “All the artists, in their own capacity, have birthed a style of rap that wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for kwaito music. Blaklez is the founding father of the Sepitori-type raps that you see in Pretoria. KiD X is from [skhanda rap]; Maglera Doe Boy and KayGizm [rep motswako].”
‘On Life’, which sits midway through Antithesis, is a necessary reality check in an otherwise light-hearted project. Both Reason’s and Sipho The Gift’s verses are poignant reflections on their personal journeys, which is a lane both artists have run with eloquence and outstanding penmanship. Reason opens the song with the lines, “I just had a fight with my stepdad over money/ The back and forth over what he gave and what he owe me/ Conversation had me thinking if he ever love me/ That’s the kind of stupid sh*t you think when you just hungry,” before stating he’s operating in his own orbit and taking care of what matters the most to him. Sipho The Gift recounts the pain of witnessing dreams die while he perseveres in his own journey. He raps, “Cemeteries are my inspiration/ When I’m feeling like I’ll never make it/ I think of all those who lacked in patience/ and gave up early while still chasing greatness.” All this as muffled guitar strings scream in the background, contributing to the intensity of the record. Not overlooking the beautiful job done by vocalists Faith K and Nyokks.
‘Shark Week’, featuring Maglera Doe Boy, is a raw street banger where the leader of straata growls over a trap beat with a pulverising bassline; home turf for MDB, who handles the song without the aid of any other rapper.
The majority of the artists on Antithesis hail from Cape Town but also have a presence nationally, which is a far cry from how things were when In Good Faith dropped in 2017. Today, Cape Town hip-hop is the most visible it has ever been, nationally. And it would have been a travesty not to pay homage to the scene’s pioneers and complete the picture. Kay Faith’s got you covered. Towards the end of Antitheses, Uno July, a long-serving icon of Cape Town hip-hop, pays homage to his roots as a member of the duo Ill Skillz over a vintage boom bap beat embellished by cuts by Grandmaster Ready D, a true pioneer of South African hip-hop as a member of one of the country’s oldest hip-hop crews, Prophets of the City, and an active artist, DJ and community builder.
Antithesis closes with the sunny R&B-pop jam ‘Cinderella’ whose drums are imported from reggae, just like the dubbed-up guitar licks that dance around Nathan Blurr’s R&B vocals as he sings about a Cinderella who’s been doing him dirty.