If you haven’t heard of Lil Trix yet, then here’s your opportunity to clear your disappointing conscience. With a couple of records under his belt, Lil Trix is one focused artist who seems to clearly understand the direction he is moving in. It is a rare discovery to find one who is so calculated with the art. And it’s that concentration that managed to make Lil Trix one of our 2017 Freshmen with almost 15k votes counted for him. The trust and confidence from the people is clearly there, so we had to find out more about his current hip hop voyage. We had to stay woke.
Before we start, let’s talk about how you got to be in hip hop in the first place and how those crucial moments in the past introduced you to the culture.
I’ve always been a creative and I just love to create anything. It started when I was nine years old and I just loved doing poetry. My teachers would always enter me into poetry competitions. I did really well in them and that was my thing. I would then experiment with different things; in the beginning it was poetry, then I tried making video games and movies. I was young. One day I came across my cousin, he came down to Eldos where my grandmother stays, wearing hip hop gear, headbands, sweatbands, baggy clothes, and he was like, “I rap now” [laughs]. He always considered me like his partner in crime and said I should join him. I actually did make music at one point and he said I should do it and call myself Lil Trix. I was like, “Why?” He said because it sounded dope. So he gave me the name and I ran with it. I was 10 years old at that time. We were a duo at first and we called ourselves Illuzion. I got really deep into it, we made a couple of songs and he used to gas me up by saying he had a contract for a record company and I would have to speak to my parents, so I had to build up the strength to tell them what I wanted to do. It took a good year. At 11 years old, I went to my mother and asked her what she would say if I wanted to be a rapper. She straight up told me that she would be quite disappointed of that direction in my life. At least I got the strength to tell them and let them understand what I was doing. Then I got really deep into it when my sister had a toy Casio keyboard that she hadn’t used in years and wanted to throw out. I told her to give it to me so I could just play around with it. I got the proper equipment and I got the proper recording software, then I started making music on my own. And as means to not depend on producers or downloaded instrumentals every time, I decided to teach myself how to produce, and at that time I was 13. In 2009 I had my first proper solo song. I was 14 and I played it for people at school and they said it was dope. Every week a new song would come and I would send it out to people at school. That’s actually when it got really, really serious.
Damn. How real was that moment when your mom told you she would be disappointed if you went down this hip hop route?
Not to be cliché, but the ‘I told you so’ moment? When my mother told me that, it was like I was never about following what people said, even if it was my parents. If they told me I couldn’t do this, I would always just want to do it anyway. When my mother told me that she wasn’t really cool with it, she sort of accepted it in a way. Over the years (when I was 16), we actually got our first song on Yfm’s Hot 99 hip hop chart at the time and when she (my mother) heard that song on the radio, her views on the entire thing changed completely. She started supporting me, she started believing, and for her it was just a case of seeing that music doesn’t make money. In the past three/four years, she has seen that you can make a living off this. It’s very cool looking back at what she said then and what she’s saying now. She’s really supportive now.
Word. Now when you got into the game, how did you see yourself fitting in an already crowded sport?
To be honest, when I started out, I was very optimistic and confident. I thought I was the missing link in South African hip hop. I thought hip hop needed me and that’s how I felt. So it wasn’t a hard thing to see how I fitted in, because I knew that my music was what the people needed. Fast-forward, I can see competition now and I can see people out there doing their thing. There are people out there really blowing up and doing big things in this country. For me, my music is what makes me unique and what makes me fit in. What everybody is doing right now is cool and really great, but there is something missing.
So basically you are filling that gap, huh?
I’m filling in that gap, because I feel like what makes me a good artist, I believe, is my attention to detail. I just pay a large attention to detail.
What sort of mentality does Lil Trix have to dive into to tackle down the music and let the art fully kick in?
For me, it’s story. I feel like there needs to be something at that time. For me it’s not a case of what beats do you have; this beat is dope let me just write to it. It’s never that case, it’s always about a statement that I’m trying to make at the time and in relation to the project. I feel like most look at a project like it’s just an album, mixtape or just a bunch of songs put together. You can’t make a horror movie and then Barney (the dinosaur) makes an appearance in the middle of the movie randomly. It wouldn’t make sense, and I feel like that’s the way we need to look at projects, albums, EPs and all of that. We need to look at them as one thing. We need to follow that concept and follow that theme in order to make one project. We need to go back to that mentality of how albums were back in the day and we need to focus on that full package.
Now do you think that SA hip hop has appreciated your music the way you would want them to appreciate it?
To be honest, I can’t really say that they haven’t or they have, because right now I’m not really out there properly yet, so there isn’t much of an audience to actually judge that by. But the audience I do have right now, I feel some of them do appreciate it to that extent and some of them really appreciated it to that extent. Most people aren’t really fans of yours and just want to hear really good music.
But surely you must have had moments when you were frustrated by the game’s acceptance of your music?
So many times. I could work on one song for two years and would pay so much attention to it. I would go so hard on it and really feel very confident about it. Then when the release comes, it fails and doesn’t do as well as I thought it would, and I feel like that was when my audience didn’t appreciate it as much as I would. That is very frustrating, because then it feels like it’s a failure, and then I really start to hate it because of their reception. Something that I really appreciated so much.
Word. It’s interesting that you were part of Blayze Entertainment at some point and are solely handled by African Star. How have you changed from being under that umbrella?
When I went on Blayze Entertainment I was 17 years old. I was new to the game. I didn’t know anything about anything. I didn’t know you could get in trouble for tweets, and African Star and Blayze Entertainment really taught me a lot about that. My approach to music as well at that time was different. I didn’t really care too much about the world and would say ignorant things. There were a couple of times when they would shout at me and say I couldn’t do this or say that. So I learnt a lot, I was very young and naive, and I learnt a lot at that point in my life. Then came a time when Blayze wanted to focus on himself and be a rapper, so I needed to focus on myself and needed someone who was going to help me out. Blayze was really just like my manager, and it wasn’t like a record label or anything, and that’s when I went out of Blayze Entertainment and approached African Star to take me on as their client. Now my music is very careful and I’m very careful with my product.
To end it off, tell us what Lil Trix is striving to achieve with his music and what impact he wants to make.
It’s easy for me to just talk about it now, because a lot of artists generally just talk about it. I actually want to make a difference and be the difference in South African hip hop. And I don’t just want to say that, I want to actually do it. I have ideas, ideas that no one in the world actually has. I just need that platform to just express my creativity, and I just want to make a difference in the world.