Rap giant Cassper Nyovest just released a kwaito album. While that may seem unusual, Cassper is at his best when he’s rapping in vernac.
“I rap my ass off in my mother tongue,” said Cassper Nyovest in the middle of his introduction to Ayoba, one of the standout songs on his new album, Sweet and Short. And rap his ass off he did.
Over the years, several critics have noted that Cassper is a much more accomplished rapper and songwriter when he’s rapping in his native Setswana. He just sounds more comfortable, more in his element. “In Motswako that’s what we call ‘easy just’”, he said at his exclusive album listening session at Universal Music last Wednesday. “It’s not too much… With this album, unlike my previous albums, I was engineering what people want to hear from Cassper. They want to hear him rap on this kind of beat. I read all that s*** they say. And I sat down and I’m like ok let me make the album that will like justify whatever I want to do from here on. Because I mean everyone can, but it takes a special type of talent to make music that people are going to be playing ten years from now. And this album is my favourite album so far because I was not second guessing myself. I was just free.”
In crafting this album, Cassper took a lot of inspiration from several Kwaito greats. “One of the main influences of this album was TKZee,” he said. “You’ll hear all the hooks. So I was literally thinking about all my favourite Kwaito songs, how we could twist it. Because when I listen to American hip-hop, like when you listen to Lil Wayne’s new songs, that’s like an old Biggie and Puff song. It’s so crazy that we never flip our own samples. So I went back to TKZee, Bouga Luv, Boom Shaka, Doc Shebeleza and all that stuff.” Move For Me, featuring Boskasie, is one of the songs that sounds like it’ll catch heat this summer.
The 27-year-old has spent about five years at the pinnacle of South African rap. In that period, he’s released four platinum-selling albums, won over a dozen notable awards and raked in millions of rands. Although he’s no longer sporting his famous ponytail, not much else has changed. Cassper’s still at the pinnacle. Despite his success, Cassper’s still one of our most polarising artists. Some basically worship him, while others swear he’s a fraud. Regardless of what you think about him, you’re watching, you’re listening, you’re aware of him. That much was evident on Sunday when he came on to perform just before Beyonce and Jay-Z at the Global Citizen Festival. Less than 24 hours after he’d hosted Fill Up Moses Mabhida, he was in full flow at FNB Stadium and had the whole place rocking. On a stage that included several world-famous, Grammy award-winning artists, Cassper was undoubtedly one of the standout performers. In truth, in terms of crowd control and pure entertainment value, the only performer who outshone him was Beyonce, and that says a lot.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of people on this earth who can say if God said stop now they’d be like, ‘I’m good’”, he said at the listening session. “I’m there. If I don’t get bigger than this, I’m good. God has blessed me a lot.”
Cover Star: Cassper Nyovest | Photographer: Jabu Nkosi | Graphic Designer: Stephen Koigi