Johannesburg - South Africa has a fine history of underground rap, tracing a line back to even before Prophets of Da City – the seminal and conscious Cape Town outfit that was the first to blow up – despite apartheid-era bans almost every time they dropped.
Zubz is probably one of the most slept-on MCs this country has produced. Intricate flows with dense content. And how about Hymphatic Thabs? Straight out the dungeon with it. I had the misfortune of watching younger heads boo this legendary local cat at Back To The City this year.
Or HHP, an icon of the local game. He has a track with Nas and a video with Amerie. He was Mister Mainstream, but times have changed and HHP, I would say, has now become an underground rapper. He remembers a time when rappers came with their own style. Before it became about copying Nicki Minaj, there was Godessa, three sisters from Cape Town with verbal venom. Where are these pioneers when we need them? Or should we be looking to the future stars of the underground?
1) Frank Casino
His video for Whole Thing was played a lot on TV and the song on radio, but I feel as though this brother isn’t receiving that much love from the mainstream. Yeah, he got a Riky Rick co-sign and verse on Whole Thing, but so what? He easily fades Riky on the track and yet we don’t hear that much from him. He is either going to blow or perhaps find himself a spot underground.
2) Youngsta CPT
Arguably the most gifted rapper in it right now, or at the very least among the most gifted. His video swag is not to be messed with. His freestyle game (kids, that’s when a rapper creates rhymes without a pen) is too hard for the block. His output is ridiculous, something like 24 tapes. This guy has no Sama nominations or awards, seems like some new age underground to me.
3) Daddy Longstem
This dude is somewhat of an enigma. An MC who also makes beats through his GKM label. Straight out the west side of Joburg, Daddy Longstem has an edgy approach mixed with an at-times wavy delivery that doesn’t get cheesy. It simply remains gully. His bars are nice and his output not bad. His sound may only exist in the digital space for now but trust, it’s hard.
4) Yugen Blakrok
Another highly slept-on writer. Her style is not made for the airwaves, but it is beautiful to listen to. Some of the tracks on the well-put-together
Return of the Astro Goth sound like they were recorded in New York. They weren’t, strictly local production, and she is steady not catching any rep from the commercial sphere. But it’s all good because she raps like she doesn’t care about that and I believe her.