Rising rap artist in Grahamstown

WORDS AND CULTURE: Hip-hop artist Sinethemba Mzwali means business, and is not about to stop any time soon. Picture by: SHALOM MUSHWANA

SINETHEMBA “Osiris” Mzwali is a name to watch out for as the Grahamstown hip-hop artist’s first independent production, Another Cliché Black Story: Phases, is scheduled for iTunes and Deezer release this week.

The young artistic entrepreneur’s contributions to music, poetry and intellectual thought revolve around social transformation.

Phases is a two-step project,” Mzwali said. “We have the instrumentals and the vocals done on separate takes.

“On the vocal side, these are my thoughts at the end of the day: what I’m thinking about, about situations, about normal people – like, the people who actually make this whole machine work, and not the ‘we are superior, we are like God’s gift to the world’ kind of people.

“So I’m trying to speak to the people I can relate to,” Mzwali continued. “Even if it’s only one or two people.”

The second part to Another Cliché Black Story: Phases, according to Mzwali, is an instrumental element which speaks for itself within the cultural sphere of the hip-hop genre.

“The beats speak for themselves without me having to rap,” Mzwali said. “What’s happening right now with the rap culture is that it’s become so plastic to the point that anyone who can talk thinks they can rap.

“My understanding of the culture is based on what I’ve been studying,” Mzwali elaborated. “Rap culture is a movement that was based on a revolution: people trying to speak out in situations where they weren’t allowed to express themselves.”

Mzwali, using Hugh Masekela as an example, feels that every generation has a struggle of its own. What was apartheid and racial discrimination in Masekela’s day is now institutionalised oppression evident in our daily lives.

“Don’t betray the movements of your time,” Mzwali said. “Don’t be that guy. If you look at everything that’s happening right now – and you go back in time – you’ll actually see how what’s happening right now is affected by what’s happened in the past; what people chose to overlook.”

Mzwali also founded Blah Ze Blah – a multi-discipline production label operating out of Grahamstown – which celebrated its six year anniversary last week. He feels Phases is also a permanent project.

“I needed something to capture how I think,” Mzwali said. “I needed something to capture those thoughts into little phrases and words. I was going to put out a little tape called Future Sounds of The Eastern Cape, but that was just too narrow because I was trying to tell the guys from the Eastern Cape that to compete with cats in Joburg you need to upgrade the sound. We can’t be having clichéd and dirty music.

“Can we just clean it up, make it better, present it well and actually create our own industry,” Mzwali said.

Mzwali’s ambition to raise the standard of the hip-hop and rap industry in the Eastern Cape is one which he has been working on for over six years, in which time he has travelled to Gauteng and Cape Town, and grown from strength to strength along the way. He calls Another Cliché Black Story: Phases a way of better understanding himself.

“It’s a conversation between me, myself,” Mzwali said.

Another Cliché Black Story: Phases has ten tracks and is scheduled for iTunes and Deezer release tomorrow (Friday February 3).


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