A change in season can bring with it an opportunity for reflection, awakening and of course, new ventures and projects. Therefore it’s fitting that after a tense and challenging winter in South Africa, the country is kicking off a new season with a new sound and new album from one of its most precocious talents: Nasty C. The hotly anticipated Zulu Man With Some Power has just dropped on all streaming platforms and has already raced its way to the top of the trends list on social media.
On Friday, as Spring loomed in many parts of the country, Nasty C’s latest body of work finally bloomed into life after what must have felt like months of nurturing, pruning and growing for the rapper.
His fans, a fiercely loyal and energetic group of followers, were eagerly awaiting the Durban-born muso’s first studio project since 2018’s platinum-selling Strings and Blings. The journey from 2019’s name reveal to 2020’s eventual release has required patience and dedication through the seasons but they got their rewards at the stroke of midnight on the 27th of August when the full record became available for streaming.
We spoke to Nasty C this week as he prepared to release his third full album at a time like no other in his career. Along with conquering the charts and sweeping awards across South Africa and the continent, Nasty C has firmly established himself as one of the most exciting music acts in the world at the moment – though during our chat he was quick to point out that he has always seen himself this way.
Zulu Man With Some Power comes off the back of a 12-month period that has seen him sign to international giants Def Jam Music, collaborate with award-winning producer No I.D. and rub shoulders with the likes of Post Malone, Da Baby, Justin Bieber and more. In simple terms – that boy gone.
Anybody would be forgiven for feeling the pressure to make a statement with this album, but Nasty C, insisted that even with the world watching his every move now, his objective has always been to produce a work of art that he can be proud of. In his words, “Anything that follows after that is a welcome bonus.”
From challenging musical boundaries to setting his sights on global domination, Nasty C kicked off Zulu Man season on an emphatic note in this candid conversation:
The Zulu Man Edition
Moziak Magazine: It’s been a long time coming since you announced Zulu Man With Some Power. How does it feel to finally know that the time to drop the album has finally arrived? To finally share it with the world?
Nasty C: I’m good man, I’m chilling. It feels great man, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
MM: These past two Fridays have been dominated by the Zulu Man on all social networks! How do you feel about the reception to the single which served as a precursor to the full record?
Nasty C: I feel good about it honestly, I think the single did exactly what I wanted it to do. Especially because, on Zulu Man, I was something different, something so far to the left and I am glad to see that people are so big on it.
MM: Now that the full body of work is out, what would you consider to be a successful “opening weekend” for the album?
Nasty C: I don’t really want to make predictions and have any presumptions about what will happen to be honest with you. This is something that means a lot to me and I am just glad to get to share it. But also, as much as it means to me that doesn’t come into play when you put out something that’s very different after fans have been waiting for about two years. You just have to put it out there and just see how it goes. I hope they f*** with it though!
MM: It’s your first album since signing with Def Jam – a record label renowned for working with major hip hop acts. Is Zulu Man With Some Power a hip hop album?
Nasty C: No I wouldn’t call it that. It’s a musical album. It’s not very narrow at all, and I’ve tried to make it as versatile as possible. I think artistically, the way I write, the music, my beat selection – all of that has changed. It’s very different and it’s all over the place to be honest. I give you something to play in the car, something to play in your earphones, something for the gym, you can play at the club.
MM: This album is laced with international features including Ari Lennox, T.I. and producer No I.D. is listed in the production credits. Do you feel like you’re not just a South African artist right now, but a global artist?
Nasty C: That’s how I’ve always looked at myself, to be honest, but now maybe it feels a bit more real. I’ve always considered myself an up and coming global artist and I always looked at myself as an artist with international ambitions.
MM: Fair enough – with international eyes on you, and with local fans still rallying behind you, how do you find a sound that appeals to Mzansi AND the world?
Nasty C: I think because of the kind person I’ve always been, I’ve never looked at my music and said ‘This one is for the local market, this one is for the international market, this one is commercial, this one is underground’. Honestly, my efforts and my drive are fueled by the art and my desire to make a masterpiece at the end of the day. But of course, I have my own ambitions of becoming a world-class artist, but I will only do that by making what I feel like is world-class art.
MM: You’ve got fans all over the world. What’s the one country where you never expected people to bump your music?
Nasty C: Oh wow I always get shocked by the countries that my fans are from. I think the most fascinating one that made me think ‘Damn, they know me out there?’ was when a fan from Sierra Leonne told me they loved my work.
MM: If you could play one iconic global venue, which would it be?
Nasty C: Definitely the O2 Arena in London. Look it might not be the biggest venue in the world, but it’s a legendary place to perform because of a number of things. Number one, it’s not easy to own that stage – number two, it’s not easy to fill it up – number three, especially not as an African hip hop artist. So to do the O2 and to pack it up would be a massive achievement.
MM: You’re making me miss the days when we could see our favourite artists live. Do you miss being on stage since the pandemic limited events?
Nasty C: You have no idea. I miss the stage, I miss the energy, I miss my fans. The virtual performances which we have done during the lockdown have given us an outlet and given us a platform to keep our fans entertained, but it’s just not the same. Live music has a special energy and the connection with the crowd is something you can’t even put into words. I miss it with all my heart.
MM: Lockdown and Covid-19 have impacted so many lives. Do you have a message for the country during these tough times?
Nasty C: Let’s hold on, let’s be careful and let’s be responsible. Covid-19 is still out there. We will get back to the days when we can perform for you in person but for now, let’s just be patient and stay home unless you need to be out.
You can stream Nasty C’s latest body of work, Zulu Man With Some Power, below:
MM: Alright man I’m about to go and stream Zulu Man With Some Power. Is there anything I should look out for specifically?
Nasty C: The whole thing bro. I know that sounds corny but the whole body of work is special because I’ve taken so many risks and I’ve introduced some left-field sounds but I’m not afraid to do that. A lot of artists wouldn’t do what I did on this one. I’m really curious to see what people think.