Things Take Time. This sentence has been at the core of my thoughts these few days because of the honesty that lays within its conveyance. Life brings so many high expectations sometimes that even the slightest thought of a setback can result in the conclusion that you are unworthy or are not part of the “selected” that have been chosen by a higher power to succeed and prosper. I’ll admit that I’ve been a victim of that at some stages of my life and not only were those stages depressing but they blinded me from understanding the secret to growth. Patience… Things Take Time. Thinking about this sentence over & over again also gave me a reinterpretation of its meaning of Time probably being the most valuable currency in existence today which should be dealt with respectfully. How often do we take Time for granted? How often do we misuse it’s power only to later regret the wastage created? A lot? Things Take Time… man these words hit me hard, so much wisdom bringing so much clarity at once… I couldn’t have gotten into this state of mind without an encounter with a man that has emerged victorious his life all thanks to his respected towards Time and the patience it requires to maximize one’s triumph in life. YoungstaCPT… One of SA hip hop’s purest, a campaigner for his people who has gone on a journey to tell his Unbreakable story alongside CAN DO! Described as “a first-generation product of post-oppressive South Africa who’s assumed the responsibility of raising the morale of Cape Town’s rich but often forgotten cultural heritage”. Youngsta’s story is most definitely one of a kind that screams resilience. And so with the help of CAN DO! HYPE collaborated with the consumer-facing brand of Nampak Bevcan to further share an Unbreakable YoungstaCPT story that we all can appreciate. Enjoy!
So, first of all, thanks for giving me the time to talk to you… I’ve been excited about this one because it’s my first time talking to you and it’s your first HYPE cover.
No doubt, you’re a great lighting man… Psych…[Laughs] You’re the worst lighting man I’ve ever met in my life.
[Laughs] I know bro… So, like I was saying, I’m excited about this one because, from our side, we’ve always wanted to do something with you. You’ve been on a lot of HYPE issues prior to this so the relationship has already been there, and we’ve been watching your career soar too of course…
I’m very excited that I’m on the cover this time. Am I on the cover? I’m just double-checking…
[Laughs] Yes bro… I think I just want to kick-start this off, before the rest of the questions come, by doing an analysis of how far you’ve come as part of our conversation. Youngsta so many things have happened, you’ve dropped so many tapes & songs. I mean the numbers are just ridiculous. So, when you do analyze your voyage as an artist thus far, how does that make you feel man?
I mean, I’ve always tried to predict the future and you know, I’ve tried to come up with scenarios that are more favourable for us, but at the end of the day… I mean people told me in 2011 that I should drop an album (Guy Fox). People told me when I was 19 to do certain things, sign to a label, move to Joburg and sh*t… So, I couldn’t have predicted that it was going to turn out this way because I’m in Joburg but I’m not staying here you know? And I did stay here at one point.
Yeah, I remember you were down here at some time…
Indeed in 2015/16. So, I mean there are a lot of things that just happened organically and happened naturally. The mixtapes were something that I felt was more natural. People forced me to make an album, people forced me to make albums because they said like “ahh… but these are mixtapes and that mixtapes aren’t really big here in South Africa”. I even remember AKA telling me that I was the first bra he knew who got famous of tapes and does everything.
Real talk… I can’t think of any other artist that blew up off tapes solely because of the consistency.
Yeah, like most guys got big off singles. Singles and albums, you know… that was more or less a standard in South Africa. So, like I say, I couldn’t have really predicted how far I’ve come now. I’m very proud of it because we didn’t follow a pattern or a systematic formula.
Yeah, real talk…
It was just basically “learn as you go along”. Me dropping an album in 2011 called Guy Fox was simply because people were telling me to make an album. When I got a lot older, I realized that it doesn’t actually matter what the label is like… It doesn’t matter if it’s an album, a mixtape or EP. In today’s times, the classifications are all screwed up, you know? So, I could have made an album last year… I could have made it the year before last, but I just felt like ending things off on 30 mixtapes. 30 is a good round number.
That’s a huge round number too.
That’s a good solid number. Some people have counted and told me that there’s more than 30. I told them to shut the f*ck up, you f*cking up my tally… Don’t f*ck up my tally, my tally is 30 and that’s what it will be. You know, but as far as the progress that we have made, all independent, all from Cape Town being based in Cape Town and still being able to travel throughout South Africa. It also shows the talent that laities in Cape Town have. Maybe you don’t have money to come stay in Joburg. Maybe you don’t have money to make that move and migrate. So here I am creating a pool for us all to exist in.
Word. I remember you once mentioned in an interview that Joburg wants you, but Cape Town needs you. Can you elaborate? Because that hit hard, and I was just like damn that’s very deep man.
And that’s true. I mean you guys don’t need me here. I mean, there are so many other rappers to choose from. We were discussing how you come to Joburg as an artist from outside of the city and while you’re in Joburg you work the circuit. You do TV, you do radio, you do the collaborations, you go to the events, you attend the listening sessions or whatever the case may be and your name is buzzing in Joburg for all that time that you’re doing it, but as soon as you leave then it’s gone. I’m lucky though to have a staying presence because of the collaborations, because of the launches and the performances, the music videos, this and that. I managed to keep my name out there. But as soon as I leave my name goes with me, you know, and that’s the thing about Joburg you need to constantly be here so that the people can consume you. People need to consume and always see you. They must hear from you, they must see that you were at the party with this one. When they go on the page, they must see that he was chilling with this guy in that club. Do you know what I mean? It’s a package deal. It’s not just about the Raps. So Joburg has that kind of “here today gone tomorrow” thing. They’re always looking for something new.
I guess when you put it that way Joburg is pretty greedy huh?
It’s pretty greedy. And so, I say they don’t need me, they just want me here so they can say like, yeah, we got him as well. We got him plus the other 50 other rappers that are here or are trying to make it the same time. Whereas in Cape Town there’s no one… If I leave Cape Town tomorrow, like forever & for good, and close the booklet. I can’t tell you when there’s going to be another bra like me to emerge. I can’t tell you…
I mean you are the Cape Crusader after all
The Cape Crusader bru, like literally taking the flag. This is eight years later and there’s is still no one from Cape Town You can name that can match me. Still no one.
That’s a fact. I tried though…
I tried as well [Laughs] but there aren’t many artists like me, and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way because I mean the OGs are still there doing their thing but that’s exactly what they are, they’re the OGs. Those are the originals, and this is the new generation. It’s 2020, I’m not even thinking 2019. I’m in 2020 already, you know what I mean?
I hear you but of course, we definitely still acknowledge guys like Dope Saint Jude, Uno July as being at the forefront of the revolution in Cape Town?
Indeed, because if you look at a guy like Uno, he was in Ill Skillz, you know what I’m saying? And he went solo not too long ago. So now it’s about him rebuilding his name as Uno July, not as Ill Skillz, but we know him from Ill Skillz. So, I’m talking about this in the sense of like new blood guys, like when I came out of nowhere. Nobody knew me in Cape Town. Uno didn’t know me, f*cking Garlic Brown and them didn’t know me. DJ Ready D didn’t know me. I came totally out of nowhere.
So Youngsta what do you think then happened with the Cape Town hip hop scene? Because you know with regards, change & social justice, Cape Town was recognized as marching those narratives back in the days and was looked at as the hub of conscious hip hop in SA. The guys that were pushing the narratives of change came from there. Prophets of Da City… Driemanskap… & many others. Those were the guys, but then a change came that found Cape Town sort of pushed to the side. I don’t know what happened but perhaps you could give me your understanding.
You know, I was a kid at the time those guys were like really soaring, topping the charts and performing overseas and shit. I really had little knowledge of the industry which is why I don’t always like to discuss those things because I wasn’t there personally, but from what I can see on what has gone on… It’s just a case of growth man and I basically think the industry outgrew us.
Damn, that baffles me to hear that.
They outgrew us bru because Cape Town is very kind of stuck in its ways. It’s more of the conscious militant hip-hop sound. You know what I mean? Only because of the oppression that we feel in Cape Town. I mean, I think for more or less, the way I see it, South Africa is a black dominated country aside from Cape Town. If you look at it, like from a holistic point of view, stand back and you just observe this piece of art here, you’re like black, black, black, black, black, white [sniggers] You hear what I’m saying? So, because of that, our artists are constantly talking about the struggle. We are constantly talking about how it’s like to come from the bottom and try and succeed in a white man’s world as Tupac would have put it back in the days. So, I mean people don’t always want to hear about your struggles and how hard it was, and you know how gangster growing up there is and about jail… People don’t want to hear that sh*t all the time bru and so I say I think SA hip hop outgrew us because even if you look at American hip hop, they’re not rapping about that. The sh*t they’re selling? They’re not rapping consciously. Yes, you get Cole, you get Kendrick, you get your childish Gambino’s and sh*t like that. You know, those are the anomalies, those are the unicorns.
So, I suppose that would be me (the anomaly/the unicorn) but just in a South African context. I’m one of the guys that are trying to push that narrative, the same original Cape Town narrative. Even Dope Saint Jude is doing it, you know what I mean? And there’s a handful of other artists as well, but I would say like, in terms of prominence and visibility, I’m the most visible one that’s pushing that message from Cape Town, so it hasn’t really changed much. It’s just that you hear it less, you know… If 20 people are talking about partying and one guy’s talking about education. You’re probably going to hear 19 guys louder than the one speaking about education. You know what I’m saying?
I feel you but hey look at how things are for you right now… You know, the debut album is coming, 3T. “Things Take Time” which in a way connects to what you were talking about at the beginning, like how at first people would force you to drop.
People were pressuring me…
When did you feel that you were actually ready to drop this album besides obviously dropping the 30 tapes?
Yeah, the 30 mixtapes… like during that time, I had this idea like should I do an album or should I just carry on with these mixtapes? I mean the mixtapes are kind of like me playing it safe. I don’t invest too much money in it. Every now and again a heat comes out of those tapes and I can ride that sh*t for like another few months or so. I shoot dope videos and upload the song which gets played on TV. So I was like, I don’t need to make an album, I don’t need to because these mixtapes are basically doing the same justice as the album would have done but just in terms of an industry standpoint to call something an album, as I said, the titles don’t matter nowadays, but to call something an album by me naming it, it means I’m going to put in extra effort, I’m going to put in extra money. I’m going to put in extra promotions. I’m going to conceptualize it. I’m going to try and take longer to write and I’m going to take time with the beat selection… Because I’m not just going to choose this beat because it sounds dope in 2019 and then you know make a whole album that sounds like singles. I want to make like substantial music, music that actually has information in it that you can take home and go listen to and feel like sh*t, I didn’t know that about Cape Town or I didn’t know that about colored people or whatever the case may be, you know? Because I feel like we did that with American music, we consumed everything.
Yeah, there’s nothing more to consume from that scene anymore…
There’s nothing more. We know everything. We know how they dress. We know where they shop. We know they’re slang. We know they’re neighbourhood’s, what they drive and what they eat. I mean down to knowing where they’re chilling and on which corner. We know all that sh*t. So, I think it’s time that we basically replicated that but from the South African context.
True. What I’m getting from your description now is that once I reach the last track of 3T, I would have learned something. So, its educational noise.
It’s a very educational album. It’s very informative, conscious and very militant. There’s a message behind it and there’s a purpose behind every song even though it’s a lot of songs like my bru… There’s NO! one else from Cape Town who is saying what I’m saying, if someone has never heard any of my 30 mixtapes and this album is the first thing they play, I basically have to inform them what they had missed out on those 30 tapes and then introduce them to this album via the tapes that they have not heard yet, you know? So it’s also about me trying to encompass and pull from all the stories of my life, my peers, my family and try to include everything on this one cataclysmic project so that in case you’ve never heard of me, because I mean sh*t there are people that have never heard of me in South Africa. So, if you’ve never heard of me before then this album will serve as an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
So, every tape that you dropped was just leading up to this point?
Bru I once put it on Twitter that my mixtapes are like takeaways or fast food. They fill you up for the moment, but you’re going to get hungry again.
But this album? This is a Sunday lunch. This was prepared by your mother. You know when your mother is slaving over that pot and you can smell it from the room and you sitting there like, oh, yeah. she cooking up that sh*t today! Yeah, it must be Sunday today because you cooking up that… This is what the album is to me. This album was thought out, well planned and well put together. There’s something meaningful in everything behind it, it has a purpose and has a soul. There’s a lifespan. And I’m shooting videos for every song on the album to further amplify that point that each song is a standalone. You could extract one song and be like I can learn by just listening to this one song.
And who did you work with on it? Because I know you have guys around you that you always go to with regards to making music.
Indeed. So, I mean for me when I was putting the album together, I thought about all these guys that have helped me over my career, the producers especially. They (producers) haven’t really charged me for beats. I mean, it’s just because they gravitate so much towards what I’m saying that they’re “you can take these beats”. It’s like an honour for them to have me a rap on their beats, so because this album is going to be, in my opinion, so big and so important I wanted them to also have a piece of it so that all the success of it also gets split amongst us equally, you know? And everybody gets to say like they played a role in launching this album and this project. So, we got Maloon TheBoom, I mean Maloon and I have made three projects together. We work well together. He understands my sound, he understands what I’m trying to say. He’ been to Cape Town a lot and he’s actually been in the environment. So now he kind of tailor makes music around what he has seen and where he has been around in Cape Town. Ganja Beatz, the guys opened their arms to me in Johannesburg when I got here first. I mean I met them through DJ Switch in 2013 and I actually hadn’t met them in the flesh. We had only spoken over Twitter, the apps and sh*t. And only when I moved down here in 2015 did, I actually meet them
Oh, that’s actually crazy…
So as soon as I got here, I thought like who do I know that can help me? And I thought DJ Switch and I thought Tumi (Stogie T). They put me in touch with the right people and Switch introduced me to Ganja Beatz formally and soon as I met them, we did The Cape And Good Dope mixtape. That was my 26th mixtape and I mean that produced the song ‘WE$-KAAP’ which turned out to be one of the biggest songs of my career. And I thought like it’s only right that they get a song on the album. And then Loopsta, who meet in Hillbrow as well when I was living in Hillbrow, he actually lived opposite me and people kept telling me like Yo! “there’s this producer in Hillbrow who lives opposite me you need to meet” I went to the opposite one day and I remember that day the power went out. So, I was going to the studio and Loopsta was about to play me a beat and as soon as we’re about to vibe out the power cuts. That’s Joburg for you… So, we literally chilled in the dark for like an hour or two and just spoke. And the songs that came out of that were ‘Sleep Is For The Rich’ with Stilo, ‘Takkies’, which was also a big song and the whole mixtape of How To Make It In South Africa, which was mixtape number 27. So, I mean if I look at it all these guys that I’ve worked with and there are these new guys I’m working on the album as well that I’ve never previously worked with, Luc Vermeer being one of them. He was part of Christian Tiger School. Michaelson who is heavy on the boom bap samples. It was important for me to also try and form some new producer relationships. I think the producers are very unsung heroes and we need to big them up more, even though they want to be in the background and don’t really want to be included in the lights and the cameras and sh*t. I feel like on an album like this that’s highly anticipated, these guys need to be named and they need to be known.
Just to start ending things off because time is running out. I’ve always wanted to ask you about the different side of you that I think a lot of people don’t know about which touches your religion? How heavily did your religion influence your album?
This album is heavily influenced by my religion. Also, I feel that there’s a lot of people that don’t know that I’m Muslim. So even by the logo of 3T, we try to incorporate some Arabic, you know, this is extracted from the Om symbol.
Wow… I didn’t even know that until now. I just thought that it was a 3 and a T with a dot on top.
Indeed. Yeah, this is extracted from the Om symbol, which is actually a Buddhist symbol that means Inner Peace and Knowledge. And I always thought it looked like a three exactly like you just said… So, I’d always had this idea for this as the logo and as soon as I started putting it out there, people started messaging me asking if I know what this means. I was like, yeah, of course, I’m fully aware but these markings are from the Arabic language in the scriptures. So, there’s also me trying to incorporate that just in the symbolism of it before you even hear anything. With just the look and feel you can kind of tell where it’s coming from and you can kind of tell that there’s some Arabic Islamic background, you know? And then the intro of certain songs that I have on the album… Having my grandfather narrate the album because he narrates my whole album, so him being a Muslim man as well like there are some stories in my life that I lived through that you wouldn’t believe if I told it. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you what was going on but if you hear it come from this man, maybe you will be then convinced.
“The reason we chose Youngsta CPT as the person we would like to partner with on this project, is because he best represents the unbreakable nature of the cans we manufacture at CAN DO! and because he represents what our brand stands for – choosing the road less traveled, taking ownership and making a success of yourself” –Sine Mkhize (Marketing Manager, CAN DO!)
Now just to conclude. How did the relationship between you and CAN DO! develop because prior to this point we’ve seen the social media stories being told between the two of you. We see that there is an Unbreakable story being told. Take us through it all.
Yeah, I would say more or less becoming closer with Shane Eagle. That really kind of sparked things with the CAN DO! idea and Rocking The Daisies. We eventually found out that CAN DO! was working with Daisies. We did like five Rocking The Daisies shows, so naturally, we were just put in contact with everyone, we met them there (Daisies) and you know Vaughn is a good man. So, it’s an organic relationship, we weren’t trying to force anything and as soon as they had the idea for the Unbreakable story, because they told other stories previously before mine, they were like well for this round I think we should go down to Cape Town and tell his story. And like I said, it’s a good fit. It’s not like we were trying to force something that couldn’t actually work. It was easy for me to tell an Unbreakable story and with CAN DO! because as I told you at the beginning of this interview, being down in Cape Town and being so far away from all this pushed me to come up with my own strategy. There was no other formula I could follow. When people forced me to make an album. I made it. It didn’t work. I had an album launch that no one came to. Now listen to this… No one, not a single mother f*cking soul. I’m talking about the only people that were there were the bras that we came with. So, Guy Fox was a dud like a firecracker that doesn’t go off. You know when you light the firecrackers and you run, and it doesn’t blow? That’s what the f*ck Guy Fox was. Good album, but the impact wasn’t there and the only reason I made that album was to shut people up around me that kept saying “stop making mixtapes. It’s not going to get you anywhere”. So, I did the album thing for them just to prove that there actually isn’t any difference to making a mixtape, you know what I’m saying? But with all the time that has passed now and all the learning curves that have passed, the disappointments that have passed and the failures that have passed, now I feel like yeah, it’s Unbreakable. Now, this is the time when I’ve got my business together. I’ve got my music together. I got my visuals together. We’re doing tours. We do our own clothing. So now I feel like I’m at a mature level where this album is actually necessary now because people are listening. They are ready to be fed.