[Cover story] Kashcpt to Jozi

Versatile Cape Town hip-hop artist Kashcpt speaks to HYPE about relocating to Jozi, the importance of collaboration and his continuing expansion.

Written by ubereatzz, Photography: JR Ecko

Kashcpt took a big decision for his career when he moved from his city Cape Town to Jozi in August. This move, which he manifested on ‘CPT TO JOZI’, the opening song of his sophomore mixtape CAPE TOWN RADIO 2, released in April, has proven a good one. Kashcpt has been continuing to anchor himself in the music scene; recently, he was part of FILA and Drip’s promotion campaign alongside influencers Molly P, Azi and Crystal. He’s previously worked with Nike, Sportscene, Flying Fish and Standard Bank.

“I am a full-time musician, and I moved up here to Johannesburg also ’cause of my daughter, she’s in Cape Town. I’m just grinding up here, ‘cause everything’s here, the industry, from Monday to Monday, it’s going down. In Cape Town, it’s like a Thursday to Saturday thing, that’s the gap,” Kashcpt says. “It’s more laid back in Cape Town. If anything, there’s no pressure. This side keeps you on your toes. For me personally, I got regulated very quickly when I came up this side, I saw how quickly everyone’s working and is consistent about that. So, just matching that, I feel like it’s very important and I’m still trying to get there and have a routine just to match that energy and be on that level. But yeah, it’s definitely somewhere where much more can happen as opposed to Cape Town. I was very closed-minded at one point when I lived there.”

Born Kelsey Kyle Minaar in 1999 in Walmer Estate in Woodstock, the vocalist and rapper describes himself as a big representation of his city to the rest of South Africa in terms of what it has to offer musically. “My goal is to just try and do the most for Cape Town, being out of Cape Town, and show the world the creativity Cape Town houses. If anything, just being at the forefront of that and promoting that.” Which explains the CPT prefix in his stage name. “The name ‘Kash’ was inspired by Johnny Cash, who was extremely diverse in making music as well as making music containing sorrow and moral tribulations,” he says.

The world

One of Kashcpt’s biggest selling points is his diversity. On CAPE TOWN RADIO 2, he delivers hardcore raps on songs like  ‘Mobbing’ and ‘When I’m Gone’, makes use of amapiano’s log drum on ‘Pour Up’ and jumps on Afrobeat production on ‘Feels Like’. His range allows him to deliver laidback melodic songs like ‘Pray For It’, a gospel song with touches of Afrobeats, to the thumping ‘Mobbing’ with which he has started moshpits from Street Fest to Rocking The Daisies.

The word “world” reoccurs in the titles of songs on CAPE TOWN RADIO 2 – ‘Jorjas World’, ‘Change The World’ and ‘Running The World’. “I’m taking all of these inspirations, all of these elements, but I wanna make it my own thing, the world, but in my own way,” Kashcpt says, explaining the significance of the word. “I just like trying new things, in essence, trying new sounds. Everything’s experimental, there’s never one genre that I wanna stick to. I do have my favourite types of genres, but I like being diverse.”

But, in 2017, when he started making music, things were a little different. “When I started, it was just kind of raps, and from then until now, I’ve just been experimenting with different sounds and genres. Still trying to just find my own pocket,” he says.

His range of musical influences is quite wide: Travis Scott (“He would probably be at the front of all [my influences]”), Eminem (“Growing up, I listened to a lot of him; I was inspired by him”) and Afrobeats artists such as Omah Lay, Burna Boy and Wizkid (“I reference all of them a lot in my songs, even their flows”). On Chris Brown, he says, “My best friend put me on, I wasn’t even listening to his songs and I’d learned all of them just from my friend singing them, so I was always inspired by him, even the melodies, the harmonies, it’s Chris Brown mostly.”

This openness can also be attributed to his upbringing, he says. “My mom and dad weren’t together when I grew up, so I grew up in different households, but it was dope ’cause it gave me more insight; like my dad didn’t believe in God and my mom is very religious. My mom’s parents are Muslim, so I go to a Muslim household, come back into a Christian household, and then go to my dad where it was just like some energy-type of belief system,” says Kashcpt. “So, I feel like I definitely got shaped like how I thought, how I grew up and how I saw things. Just the perspective, I’ll say, gave me a better perspective than just seeing things from one view. And you also… you go to Robben Island and I learned a lot of history just from where he he was, I meet the people that he was chilling with and I’d learn from them. And being around my grandparents, they just influenced me, like there are different types of churches. So they were Baptists and Baptists play like bass guitars and sh*t in the service, and I liked that. I never saw that before.”

Collaboration

His diversity has led to interesting collaborations. One is with fellow genre agnostic artist Blxckie on ‘Denims’, one of the biggest songs on CAPE TOWN RADIO 2. The music video is currently sitting on a healthy 260k views and counting. “I made ‘Denims’ before Blxckie was on it. It was just like a vibe when I made it. And then I sent the record to Blxckie, I was like, yo, you feeling this? He was like yo, this is hot! Sent me the verse literally ASAP. And then yeah, it was just one of those things that we didn’t have to force,” Kash says.

Another major collaboration is ‘Ja$mine’ from 2020’s CAPE TOWN RADIO, which features Never Broke labelmate J Molley who also appears on ‘Running The World’ on CAPE TOWN RADIO 2. “That collab was crazy for me, man, because at the time, it was someone that I looked up to… still look up to him and I’m still grateful for everything that he inspired me to do. Yeah, that was big for me,” Kashcpt says.

He feels Durban singer Kaien Cruz whom he featured in ‘All of Me’ on CAPE TOWN RADIO 2 is as versatile as he is. “We actually knew each other outside of music before we started working together, a year later she just became gang also,” Kash says. “She can also do any genre, that’s what I like. I sent her that record, she was also feeling it and sent it back relatively quickly.”

Some of these collaborations come about in a very interesting way. “All of my songs up till now were freestyles,” Kashcpt says. “I freestyle everything and I don’t sleep, I work better at night than I do in the day. Still trying to fix that also. But most of the sessions that I’ve had with anyone, they’re never planned. I just pull up on them, or we’ll be out, and then I’ll say, let’s go to the studio.”

The other side of collaboration

But some of his collaborations have lead to clashes. One of Kashcpt’s most memorable songs are ‘Late Nights’ and ‘Up and Lost’, which he worked on with FLVME for his critically acclaimed CandyMan project, which dropped in 2019. He later spoke out on his dissatisfaction with working with the talented artist on Twitter. A series of now-deleted tweets addressing his concerns got the streets talking. “Eish, I won’t lie, I don’t wanna bad mouth anyone, but we’re talking about facts at the end of the day,” he says, when asked about what led to him venting that day. “I was thinking about a lot of things that day when I posted the tweets about not being paid for those songs and that was the one thing That was on my mind, it was eating me. And so, I was just like yo, my n*gga, I gave you these two songs and you didn’t even care.”

He goes on to explain certain conduct that he doesn’t fully agree with on how FLVME handled the distribution and crediting of featured artists he had on CandyMan. ‘Late Nights’ is one of the most played songs on the album on Spotify, and only comes second to ‘Ride For You’, which features The Big Hash. “It was just on some weird vibe, like yo, why you not showing who’s a part of this project? Even Malachi, Hash, and everyone who’s on CandyMan, no one got credited. And that was my issue with that. Eventually, it got sorted out. My publisher and my team reached out to him and told him that they’re gonna take the legal route if these issues aren’t addressed, and after months and months of nagging, FLVME and his team fixed it. It didn’t have to take as long as it did, but yeah, eventually it got sorted out,” Kash says.

One would think after all this hassle, Kash would be reluctant to work with FLVME again. “It was weird for a while, and I was hearing the stuff that he was making, and I just thought, wouldn’t it be dope to be on that same wave as him? The gents in the team weren’t too happy with just moving on and being cool like nothing happened, so it only became a chilled environment or a chilled space now recently, I would say. So now, moving forward, especially ’cause I’m this side, I do wanna collab with him. I wanna definitely lock in with him.”

Intentional: Mansa Musa is Never Broke

Kashcpt, formerly part of Mansa Musa Ent, signed to Never Broke in March 2018, the same management and label that J Molley is under.

The story of how he ended up signing with Never Broke is encouraging, as it shows Kashcpt was intentional about who he wanted to handle him and his brand. Wherever Never Broke artists were booked in Cape Town in 2017, together with his producer, Baker, he would do his best to perform at the events for free to get their attention.

“At the time, there were a few people trying to sign me and it was just weird chats; people just wanted too much or I couldn’t own the music I was making,” he says. “So, I spoke to Nav [of Never Broke] and he broke it down and told me what his vision was and what he wanted to do with my brand. And I liked what he was saying and I saw how I could be a part of that and I chose them, just ’cause I felt like I have more creative freedom, to be more, not ownership only, but I wouldn’t feel like I’m selling all the work that I’m making, I could still own it.”

As part of Never Broke, Kashcpt has gained mainstream attention as he is one of the most consistent musicians we have in South Africa and he’s always dropping appealing visuals for his songs. “We are always shooting something, I think out of the 16 songs, we’re doing six videos. So far ‘Pour Up’, ‘Denims’, ‘Mobbing’ and ‘What I Like’ have visuals out already and I just came back from Cape Town where we were shooting ‘When I’m Gone’ with YoungstaCPT, and that visual is gonna come out next, and another song, but I’ve forgotten which one.”

CAPE TOWN RADIO 2 charted at number 5 on the hip-hop charts on Apple Music and continues to be the best tape to gauge how good Kashcpt is in these genres he loves dipping his talent in. He mentions his wish to make different EPs dedicated to each of the genres he loves – like hip-hop, R&B and Afrobeats – in the near future. “I want to expand so that I can’t be labelled as just this one artist, I wanna be the unexpected guy. And, whenever I come out with a new genre, I want it to be like a body [of work] people can hear, and not just like one song that I’m pushing out and I’m just trying something. I wanna put something together that makes sense before I drop it,” Kashcpt says.

This interview appears in issue 24 of the monthly HYPE ezine available for purchase here.

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