The Rise of Kiddo CSA

Kiddo CSA’s artistic talent is a kaleidoscope of diversity, blending lyrical genius with an effortless and smooth tone. As the rap game takes notice, it’s only a matter of time before Kiddo CSA becomes a household name.

This story appears in HYPE magazine #31, available here.

TEXT: THEO MOKGETHI // IMAGES: WARNER MUSIC SOUTH AFRICA

Hailing from the east of Joburg, Sipho Ncube, better known as Kiddo CSA, is the highly anticipated rising star of the SA hip-hop scene. With his diverse artistry, he possesses lyrical genius and a smooth, effortless tone that sets him apart from the rest. Kiddo CSA has been knocking at the door of the music industry to move from the underground to a mainstream level, and it started with his online freestyles, which he used to showcase his lyrical ability. Little did he know those freestyles would catch the attention of DJ PH, who, in 2020, placed him on the track ‘Gotta Go’, with living legend Da L.E.S and the late Tumi Tladi. “It was crazy,” Kiddo CSA says when asked about that moment. “That’s when everything became real,” he says. “Like, that’s when you could see you’re not delusional; you’re actually nice because you can make it in the game. For DJ PH to hit you up and say, ‘I want you on a song’, and not because they heard it from a label or they heard it from this guy… He saw me on the internet. It was a confirmation at the time for me to continue pursuing this music thing.”

To add fuel to the fire, Kiddo’s friend and producer Undfind, who is based in Los Angeles, was able to share one of Kiddo’s freestyles with accomplished Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins, who was blown away by Kiddo’s lyrical ability. Right away, he sent Kiddo a song with just a chorus and asked him to spit a verse, and that’s how the song ‘Stay Down’ came to fruition.

MAINSTREAM

Kiddo’s vision for his career became clearer as Warner Music South Africa started knocking on his door to offer him a deal he couldn’t refuse. He officially joined the label in October 2021. “It’s been dope,” he says about his experience with Warner, “because there are certain resources you don’t have independently. Having a music career is different from having a business. If I have products that I’m selling, like if I bought the product and I’m selling it back and someone’s gonna buy it, that makes me money. But with music, you are selling the product for a specific number of years without the return on investment. So, when you’re doing it solely by yourself, it’s pretty draining on the pocket, and stuff like that. So having a label that’s able to offer you resources and offer the mentalities that they have, in terms of the expertise that they have in music, it’s dope, because it also puts you in a different mental perspective.” We’ve seen artists switch up their sound after signing with major labels. Asked if he would do the same, Kiddo shares an epiphany. “I really think I was very stubborn about that last year,” he says, “because I was making my own thing, but when I started doing shows, I realised that I can’t keep making things for myself, because the shows don’t go up as much, you know. It’s dope music, but people need to listen to it in different settings; the shows are where you see your relevancy, and that keeps you going forward. “So, I started making music and doing research by going to clubs and also listening to what’s actually being played – the BPM, the sound, the 808s… whatever the case may be – so that I could get to understand what I needed to come back with. And I think, yeah man, it’s fun, because you’re just experimenting, you know. It’s not like I’m making music for other people. It’s like I’m still making music for myself but in a more experimental way.”

I REALLY THINK I WAS VERY STUBBORN ABOUT THAT LAST YEAR BECAUSE I WAS MAKING MY OWN THING, BUT WHEN I STARTED DOING SHOWS, I REALISED THAT I CAN’T KEEP MAKING THINGS FOR MYSELF, BECAUSE THE SHOWS DON’T GO UP AS MUCH, YOU KNOW. IT’S DOPE MUSIC, BUT PEOPLE NEED TO LISTEN TO IT IN DIFFERENT SETTINGS; THE SHOWS ARE WHERE YOU SEE YOUR RELEVANCY, AND THAT KEEPS YOU GOING FORWARD.

WHEREVER A MIC’S AVAILABLE

Kiddo CSA’s love for hip-hop began at home, where his family played a lot of different sounds and genres. As a child, he didn’t have many friends and mostly stayed indoors, so making music became a way for him to have fun and express himself creatively. It explains why rapping and making music are second nature to him. “I don’t like to write my lyrics. I prefer to freestyle instead,” he says after explaining that he doesn’t stick to a particular creative process when making music. “The luxury of having a creative process also goes with the experience and the type of money you have,” Kiddo says. “Like, there are rappers that be like, ‘I want to be in a room by myself and it’s dark and it’s…’ you know. Sometimes I go to the studio and it’s eight people, and I gotta make music, bro.” Kiddo makes music wherever there’s a mic available.

LONDON

Kiddo CSA had the privilege of going to London last year in October for a recording boot camp, where he met and engaged with various artists and producers. This opportunity gave him a chance to work with a singer-songwriter from London, UK, Monique Lawz, who recently collaborated with him on his latest single, ‘Window’, which has been number one on radio for a few weeks, and still going. “It didn’t even take more than 30 minutes to make the song,” Kiddo says. I was not surprised, as the chemistry between these two artists is electric. I could feel it in the room as I was interviewing Kiddo, and Monique was on the other side of the room, hyping him up as he answered my interview questions. Monique Lawz, Kiddo says, will be on his upcoming project, Worldwide Eye, which is due for release on 28 April. Kiddo mentions that he worked with different producers from all over the world. The project features five songs, and the cover art was shot by the one and only Mishaal Gangaram. So, what kind of message does he want his fans to take from his music? “The sense of hope,” he says. “I think with my music, if you’re gonna listen to it, like the song that’s currently out now, it’s fun. But you can still hear a line that says something like coming from the bottom is not nice but you can work your way out, or whatever. So even if we’re having fun, it’s still from an educational perspective. It’s like I was trying to say – the listener must have just a sense of hope and faith.”

This story appears in HYPE magazine #31, available here.

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