Who'll save hip-hop?

2017-05-07 06:00

Johannesburg - What happened to rap? It’s a perfectly valid question, posed by DJ Switch on a track he dropped last year featuring a bunch of local rap stars.

The rant

Vacuous content and an egocentric approach seem to be the key ingredients of hip-hop in South Africa. Your AKAs and Casspers seem to speak of nothing but the cash flow and how fly their respective squads are, which is cool, don’t get me wrong, but when that is the only thing you’re saying on most of your joints, it gets wack. This is the reason underground raps keep re-emerging on the hip-hop landscape, an alternative and uncooperative branch of the culture that will not bend to trends or sales projections. Rap emerged from the underbelly of the streets; it was once shunned and not nearly as well understood as it is today. Hip-hop now resides in the penthouse and that is all we hear about on the daily. I’m sick of it.

What we need is a new approach, one that is rooted in the traditions of old. Lyricism, unique-sounding beats and original stylings to the delivery. Straight up, Ambitiouz Entertainment and Mabala Noise don’t cut it. Entire labels using Future and Drake as blueprints for their rhymes is nonsense. The underground in South Africa must rise to the penthouse level and drag hip-hop back down to the basement.

The antidote

A talented group of individuals comes to mind when I think about lyrically dragging wack rappers out of their comfy condos, Revivolution.

Revivo be the clique and the rest know exactly what to do. The stable is Grimetown and they rep the J-Sec to the fullest, even though they may not all be from Joburg originally. Illy Amin, an emcee from the group who is at present the reigning champ of Scrambles for Money and also has links to Red Bull Music Academy, explains. “Most of us are born-and-bred Jozi kids, but Tony Dangler is from Pietermaritzburg. We all met in school, and the crew started while we were at varsity. We were all friends from before and shared a vision, so we got together to form Revivo.”

This brother even won the chance to do battle at The King of the Dot rap battles in the US, and he murked up his opponent quite convincingly.

Made up of actual spitters who have been hardened by the local battle rap scene, Revivolution’s style is unquestionable and the energy they generate on stage is truly something to marvel at. Another member of the group, Tony Dangler, won the Sprite Uncontainable challenge and got the chance to go to the US, watch an NBA All-Star game and even get to kick it with ... yup, Drake.

Who is Revivo?

Revivolution is a group of about 10 artists (it changes) that includes five spitters, two producers and even a graphic designer for all the visual aspects of the art.

These brothers are arguably the most volatile rappers in the J-Sec. To date they have between them dropped five solo projects and one group project called Kotas and Caviar. Inferno Williams, Tommy Ill Nigger, Illy Amin, Impropoe, Fusion and Tony Dangler all have different styles that, when put together, form a formidable force of grimy hip-hop.

Grimetown, their label, has even housed a notorious graffiti crew who will be left unnamed because the feds are watching.

Their sound may be viewed as underground, but these brothers choose not to box themselves in. They move effortlessly from hard boom-bap raps and rebellious delivery to songs with a new age, wavy influence that doesn’t sound forced or bitten.

This group is made up of members from different areas of the city, which makes for an eclectic feel in their music.

The next tape-dropping is an offering from Fusion, an articulate wordsmith with an animated flow. Their beats are made in-house for the most part by Vez FullStop and A-Major, both of whom have distinct signatures to their beats that don’t involve yelling their names out at the beginning of a song. A few of these spitters can make their own beats, which add to the arsenal. They draw inspiration from everyday life.

“We don’t like staying stagnant, so we’re always exposed to new things that help shape our vision and brand. Constantly wanting to be better pushes us to explore new things and push the envelope.”

This group has worked with the likes of Youngsta CPT, PHFAT, Ginger Trill and even Spoek Mathambo.

I am adamant that Revivo and other crews like them can help bring our hip-hop back to the black top with their refreshing approach that comes from a healthy understanding of the fundamentals of rap.

Let the Revivolution commence.

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