Amu: "The struggle continues"

2007-02-08 12:13
The hip-hop bug bit Amu in the 80s and it has been love ever since. As rapper and producer, he's respected by most Mzansi hip-hop artists. His success as a rapper is mostly on soundtracks, collaborations and his first solo album, the 2003 The rap, life and drama. He's preparing to drop another album late in 2007.

Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala for You've been the Rap game for a long time now, even when getting recognition was a long journey you kept going. How did you do it?

Amu: I think it's for the love. I've never worked a day in my life. Went to school, did my diploma. But for me it's always been about the music. It just had to work out. It doesn't feel like a job. It's comfortable. And I know I'll never give up, the struggle continues. When we spoke to Skwatta Kamp last year they named you as an inspiration. Even Tuks says you are his favourite MC. How do you feel about cats in the industry looking up to you?

Amu: I know it's gonna sound arrogant but I did pave the way. Most of the kids out there I kinda groomed. Some would come to me, do a verse or two and ask me for my opinion. It's nice, you know. As a hip-hop artist you've also dabbled in kwaito with collaborations with Zola and others. Do you think that those two genre can sometimes blur?

Amu: Recently ja. It's 20 percent good, but 80 percent bad. Even in Jazz you get Afrojazz and New Orleans jazz. One genre, but the sound is very different. There's hip-hop and there’s kwaito. And they should be different. Don't get me wrong; the two genre can exist side by side. But they are slipping at the moment, and they don't know which way to go. Zola was the one person who could put the two together successfully and then everybody was trying to do it. I think at the moment there’s much confusion between hip-hop and kwaito, and it's wrong. The music is one appleorange.I think we need to take it back. Back to the old days, with a fresh spin, and back to the drawing board. It's taken a few years for you to release an album. Why?

Amu: I've been bored with the industry. I hate to release just for the hell of it. I haven't had anything else to say. I plan to release an album later on this year, called "The Principal", that's me. For the last four years I've been producing a lot, which I've enjoyed. You've spoken about the appleorange and how we need to go back. Will your album be bringing back that old school flavour or a fresh sound?

Amu: A bit of both. We need to move forward but keep the old elements that make hip-hop hip-hop. There's that x-factor in music that makes you know this is hip-hop. Sampling is hip-hop. It's the roots of hip-hop. But I hope we can come up with a distinct sound for each SA region. So in JHB we can have our sound, Cape Town can have a sound and Mafikeng can have a sound. Explain the brotherhood that seems to exist in Mzansi hip-hop.

Amu: We are not territorial at all. Most of us are from the Le Club (a now defunct open mic hip-hop club) era where we met when we were coming up. As a result we are close and if you are not from that school you are out. Except for the Mafikeng guys, we’ve let them in. Which do you relate to: conscious hip-hop or bling-hop?

Amu: For me it's political. There's reason why guys like 50 cent get publicity. White America likes it when they see black people being stupid; rapping about killing black people. When a white kid listens, he can go home to his comfortable suburb and home and not have to face what he hears in the lyrics. But for a black kid it's different, he could end up emulating what he hears on the record. As soon as an artist sings about something political and conscious, they are ignored or there's an outcry. Look at how the media was all over Kanye West after his Bush comments. Until black people realise what we are being fed, only then can we make a difference. What is your hope for the future of Mzansi hip-hop?

Amu: For the big media houses to back hip-hop. The talent is there we just need to let it shine. SA government needs to support the arts in general. The US has taken their pop culture to the world. We need to make our stuff look cool and then take it to the rest of the world.

- Interview by Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala

When Amu arrives at the Ghetto Ruff offices in Johannesburg he strolls into the office and starts chatting to the staff. His eyes are barely visible under his low baseball cap. As we sit down in garden, he quickly gets up. He turns around, dusting off his fatigue print cargo pants on the bum, "Is it dirty?" That’s the chilled Amu we interviewed. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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