Johannesburg - Pretoria-based rapper Tshegetso Reabetswe Kungwane, also known as The Big Hash, has had the kind of come-up many rappers can only dream of.
In March, he dropped his Life + Times Of A Teenage Influence extended play record (EP), which, to date, has more than 170 000 streams on SoundCloud.
A month later, Riky Rick brought in the 17-year-old to perform at Back to the City, the biggest hip-hop festival in Africa. Hash almost materialised out of thin air, and has cemented himself as one of rap’s most talented newcomers.
“The Back to the City performance was surreal,” Hash says.
“It was at that moment that I took in the fact that, not only was I good enough to perform at one of the country’s biggest hip-hop shows, I was also sharing the stage with an OG. That’s a privilege I’ll cherish forever.”
Listening to Life + Times, it’s easy to see why Hash has garnered commercial appeal as quickly as he has. The six-track EP is a journey into the mind of a young rapper who’s willing to forge a successful career, no matter what. He even dropped out of high school to focus on his rapping.
Exes on the Weekend is by far the stand-out track of the album. With its stuttering drums and auto-tuned raps, the song is his most vulnerable.
“I need her by my side, she’s my left lung. I would rather die and move on to the next life than try to move on to the next one,” he raps.
With more than 58 000 SoundCloud streams, it’s his most popular track and the song he holds closest to his heart.
“[Music producer] 808X and I worked quite extensively on that song. I wrote the verses, rewrote them and got rid of them so many times, but I feel like I had to make it perfect. There’s a lot of sentiment and personal experience behind it.”
The subject matter on the EP is the usual commercial rap staple of money, women and blowing up, and – with only six tracks – it sometimes feel like it sprints to cover the short distance it travels. The EP feels impersonal at times – which is a shame given how The Big Hash Theory, his debut EP, was anchored by its storytelling.
On it, he speaks about his strained relationship with his mother, dropping out of school and his pursuit of happiness. And while that’s missing in Life + Times, the numbers don’t lie. No one pulls in as many streams as he has or catches the attention of one of South Africa’s biggest rappers without doing something right.
If the success of his current EP is anything to go by, we’ll be hearing a whole lot more from The Big Hash in the future.
(Picture: Supplied/City Press)