I’ve always had the biggest respects towards artists that fight through any obstacle to further themselves not just with regards to their musical careers but furthering themselves as individuals first. Its that kind of quality that encourages me to continuously seek out a better me within myself because if he or she can push through what they’re going through and become a better version of themselves, then I can too. One such artist that I witness build himself up with spring is none other than Ratanda’s (Heidelberg), who has over the years shifted and uplifted himself to a position that I can only describe as constructive. Having already been given a HYPE spotlight on different occasions, last year King SweetKid managed to score himself a spot on our #HYPEFreshman2018 campaign which again signifies his eagerness to not take things for granted. With already so many singles and projects shared, I spoke to King SweetKid to dive deeper into his story and how his music has carried him to this point.
“I’ve always wanted to make a living through my music because I love this sh*t with every fiber and bone ” – KING SWEETKID
I think, first of all, I have to commend your enthusiasm and drive to chase your dreams because we all know that it is not easy for anyone to make a success out of a musical career, but you seem to be doing it. It was quite interesting to find out how you were always attracted to cultural spaces. The gumboot dancing era was a shocker in a good way of course [Laughs]. When did the hip hop bug hit you though and how?
I was always involved in entertainment as my history reveals and like most of the 90’s babies, I would bump music videos on my dad’s VCR. One of my dad’s video cassettes had the Backstreet Boys, K-Ci & Jojo and Joe but the music video that stood out for me the most was 2 Pac’s ‘Hit em up’. Also, subconsciously my dad would feed me so much hip hop throughout my childhood from the 2 Pac and Biggie era, throughout the Nelly era right until the Lil Wayne era. I swear ‘Lollipop’ changed my life [Laughs]. So basically I was a gumboot dancer at like ages 7 till 14 right? One of the best to ever do it, by the way, accolades and sh*t! [Chuckles] I even made it to some front cover of a theatrical magazine (Yo… I was shutting sh*t down as youngin). I was poppn at the Dance Factory in New Town back then [Laughs], so as a gumboot dancer we would usually go on tour in Germany every 2 to 3 Years for about 6 (sometimes 2 weeks) and we’d do like 6 to 10 cities and a crazy number of performances. It was awesome because we’d collaborate with all kinds of musicians, huge bands, and even choirs. So, throughout those years I was falling more and more in love with music and of course, me being in my adolescence, some events kind of led me to record a song and I never looked back since that day. The first song I ever recorded in my life was a diss track with my then squad, that’s when Owza (my producer) asked me to come back alone the next day to try record a song and I did just that. On my last tour as a gumboot dancer, I asked my director to incorporate my rap in our choreography set and I suggested we add it also on the school workshops that we’d do during the tour. I remember asking him “please man, let me perform my songs at the schools also I won’t disappoint”, bear in mind my music was so wack at that time… Like extremely wack, the pits. But German people didn’t understand half of the words I was rapping coz I would mostly rap in vernac back then so it didn’t matter, it was wild bro I even dislocated my knee on that tour [Laughs] but he (my director) agreed to let me do it because I was bugging him so much and the tour was pretty successful, so when I came back home after the tour I was like f*ck it, I don’t want to do anything else either than music. This is it! That made me a class clown in high school because I didn’t give a flying hoot if I got the certificate or not because I knew I was good for life [Laughs]. But honestly, that’s how the bug hit me. I don’t remember myself thinking I want to be anything else other than what I am right now.
I personally have come across your name in previous HYPE print issues in the “Newcomers Delight” section. I think you appeared more than once there which again highlighted your determined spirit to just f**king make things happen for yourself. How does King SweetKid keep on motivating himself to push on forward?
My life just constantly reminds me that all I have is music, I don’t even motivate myself and I don’t know what that is… What? [Laughs] I live and breathe music so making things happen for myself is a must, its mandatory, no motivation takes place when your talent has its foot on your neck, my talent bothers me, bro, I listen to my songs and forget it’s me then I lose my sh*t instantly. That feeling right there is enough to make me want to work harder and harder, beat the odds and bring the trophy back home! I think I’ve been on the Hype Magazine for more than 3 times, this is probably the fourth time and touché I’m on the damn cover now. Next time we are doing the Sugar Edition Cover of the Hype Magazine [Chuckles] Give me 2 Years…
“I’m here to tell that story, I’m here to show people that giving up isn’t an option” – KING SWEETKID
Word. Now you’ve dropped so many records and projects already and each release always seems to reach the right ears or gain the right attention. Over the years you’ve preached the term “Sugar Season” in your music and art. What does “Sugar Season” mean or stand for? There has to be a deeper meaning behind it.
That’s a dope question… So basically, how I came about with the term Sugar Season is pretty simple. It was derived from Sweet Kid, in my defense, at that time I thought it was a good idea, I mean even using Sweet Kid as a rap name is a bit steep and a very questionable name. I remember being in the RapLyf H1 after shooting the ‘Mmino’ music video with Kwesta and he asked me why I called myself Sweet Kid, I tried explaining but he cut me in the middle of a sentence and told me to change that sh*t [Laughs.] He told me that a couple of times actually. I didn’t listen, I never listen I thought I was way too deep in the rap game and it was too late for me to change my name. So, we decided to add King to SweetKid. So, this is where the story gets interesting… I decided to move to Johannesburg after finishing my Matric to further my studies, I told my dad I was going to study IT, but we all know I just wanted to come to make it big in the city. I found me the cheapest college, cheapest accommodation and got lit but dropped out of college after 3 months and wrote ‘lowkey’ the weekend I decided to drop out. I only told my parents that I dropped out of college the day my fan base episode on SABC 1 aired in 2017 and I was like this is why I dropped out. I told my mama I’m about to be a star. In the year 2016, I went to the studio and I told Owza I needed something different, I needed my music to make sense and I needed to make mind-blowing music. We sat down and listened to almost everything that’s on the market. When we got done listening, he connected the piano and he made the ‘TDK’ beat. Yo, believe me when I tell you that that day was the birth of the Sugar Season, it’s when I decided to call my sound the “Sugar” sound. I’ve always felt like my music is nothing close to what you usually hear on the mainstream. My beat selection is weird, I’m always ought to do something that I’ve never heard before. The Sugar Season is a huge chunk of my career and it’s the core of my entire brand. The Sugar Season to me is what The Carter is to Lil Wayne, but unlike Weezy, I think the last Sugar Season I’m going to do is the 3rd one. But maybe I’ll decide otherwise in the future.
It’s very common that I see you partake in any given hip hop opportunity which reveals how much you value any given platform, well according to me… Over the years you have strived to pierce to the top of the game in SA hip hop. What have been some of the major challenges that you have faced & conquered so far that have even surprised you?
I mean I wouldn’t call it challenges thus far bro just dealing with industry people and its gatekeepers has kind of been dragging, so many fragile egos involved and so forth. But just like any other indie artist or upcoming artist getting on major platforms is a hassle. My pride only exists outside my hustle for music. I’m not afraid to approach whoever, wherever for whatever. Nor am I afraid of getting a “No”. I approach almost everyone I meet in the industry for work and none of them take me seriously, none! Even the pap industry people flex [Laughs] But you’re playing yourself if you think I’m not going to be one of the biggest artists the country has ever produced, so every no is just another story to tell when I’m popping. I’ve never had a single deal in my life, I’ve always been alone meeting people along the way who help me, and they somehow leave, but I’ve gotten so far without a single hand out I can’t stress it enough.
“I feel like more platforms need to be implemented for artists to show case their talent ” – KING SWEETKID
What is the story that you are trying to tell with your music? Is every drop connected or random?
I grew to realize that in life the most important character a human can possess is resilience, bro being able to bounce back from anything and everything that is intended to destroy you is probably the most powerful tool one can learn and teach. I’m here to tell that story, I’m here to show people that giving up isn’t an option, that no matter what life throws at you laying down isn’t an option. Every drop is connected because without that connection I wouldn’t be able to reach the hearts of the people who listen to my music. Look, I grew up in the hood just like any other black kid. Nothing special about my upbringing, I went to school with Afrikaans learners experiencing racism and sh*t but as an artist, I had to decide which route I want to take, am I going to tell stories about the hood? Am I going to go straight to the money raps? Should I just do gimmicks? Should I do punchline rap? Do I rap in English or rap in vernac more? All of those questions got answered when I realized that I’d rather tell stories about matters of the heart. Making you feel nostalgic, making you feel something that only music can make you feel, mostly happiness and motivation. So, I decided to rap mostly about heartbreak, self-motivation, and everything in-between. My new music is breathtaking honestly.
So, what is your current opinion on the state of hip hop in SA?
We’re almost there I think most of the artists I’m coming up with all have incredible visions with regards to their careers, only a few want to get signed now and I’ve also noticed a few n*ggas are actually going on tour now. Not that pap sh*t we used to do, getting a bunch of shows and calling it a tour. No… Everybody is looking to take it to the next level. Nobody wants to be famous & broke. And sonically we’re basically up to par. Man, there’s a lot of dope mother**ckers in SA. I am one of the few artists that are actually fans of the culture, I bump all the homies. I find it so difficult to hate good music. We’re moving well, of course, there are a few glitches that delay the progress. The ego is one of them, but the real ones always have their intentions and hearts in the right place for our culture. Also, somebody tells SA rappers that they won’t die if they collab with other dope rap artists, I mean we might kill you on your own song but that’s not the point [Laughs] The point is to get the music across.
What would you say are the negatives of SA hip hop culture?
There’re definitely not enough platforms for our hip hop culture, for the most part, I feel like more platforms need to be implemented for artists to showcase their talent and for content producers to practice their creativity. Think about it, everybody wants to do the same sh*t, n*ggas want to get on YFM, Shiz Live, Hype Magazine and then get on Live AMP and there’s like a million of people submitting to the same publications but we see the same artist on rotation. Till this day Hype Magazine has never had consistent competition. Ever since I started rapping being on the Hype Magazine was a huge achievement, so you’re telling me that one publication is supposed to cover the entire SA hip hop Industry? There should be a lot of Hype Magazines, there should be a lot of Shiz Lives more platforms dedicated to SA Hip Hop only. We just need more than what we’re offering. I’ve been around since the ‘Siz N Scoop’ era and I believe that has to be one of the greatest times of SA Hip Hop. More talent, more rap, more authentic hip hop shows, more cyphers, fewer politics, and fewer egos. The most important thing was changing the game or bringing something new to the game, but not taking anything from the new era, we still lit [Laughs]
How would you define success for yourself?
Success to me is a lot of things so defining it would be something I’d struggle to do but I will say this, I’d consider myself successful after buying my mom and pops both cribs followed by cars. I think success is working so hard until you reap the benefits, I mean if your plan was to fly to the moon and you use every resource at your disposal to make it possible and you actually fly & land on the moon, I consider you successful at flying to the moon. So, my plain definition of success is reaping the benefits of your hard work, simple. I’ve always wanted to make a living through my music because I love this sh*t with every fiber and bone so once I’m able to do exactly that when I’m not yet successful. I could win a million awards but if I can’t feed myself or whoever I’m responsible to take care off then I ain’t successful for sh*t
And what are your plans for 2019?
Next Level, I’m planning on hosting the biggest show of my career thus far, I’m also planning on dropping the Sugar Season 3, I’m currently working on an EP with of the boys from the Punchline stable which I’m very excited about. I started the year running. I’ll be dropping a fair amount of content; this is the breakout year for me so there’s really nothing I’m doing that isn’t going to be a big deal. I’m not stopping at anything I actually plan on doing everything they tell me I can’t do. I’m going to be the biggest, no CAP.
Lastly, you made it onto our 2nd annual Freshman cover. The campaign wasn’t an easy one but you here. How did being a part of the whole experience make you feel?
First of all thank you to Hype Magazine team for considering me as a freshman, honestly when the top 30 names were released I was skeptical on whether id make it to top 7, but me being me I put in 100 % into the campaign, I probably campaigned harder than any other candidate because I ain’t got sh*t bro, only a few friends who support the hustle and these dope ass songs. I campaigned with a R0,00 budget [Laughs] when I say R0,00 I mean R0,00 most times I wouldn’t even have data to vote or ask people to vote [Laughs]. I was going through a lot in my career, so the freshmen cover campaign was the biggest news I had received after a year of hustle and no big news. The experience was awesome man; this cover marks a huge mark in my career. I’ll be looking back at this cover in future when I’m poppn and this will be part of a story I tell. I love making music because this sh*t makes me feel immortal, I won’t die because my music, interviews, videos and my word stay here on earth forever even when I leave. Besides that, I love breaking boundaries, so this was more or less another opportunity for me to prove my excellence, my grind, and my undying talent.