Do you remember what life was like 10 years ago? I kind of do 'cause 10 years ago I was a 17 year old girl fresh out of high school and I had just auditioned for my city's radio station (then TUT Top Stereo, now Tshwane FM) which landed me on their afternoon drive-time show where my entire life would begin. Essentially, I celebrate my first decade in the music and media industry this year and what better way to do that than to pay ode to the biggest guiding light that has carved my journey all these years, SA hip hop.
In 2008/2009 SA hip hop was on the cusp of something bigger than what it was at the time, yet never did we imagine that we'd be getting to the levels that we are at the moment. In 2008, Khuli Chana was still a relatively "new" artist as he was getting ready to drop his monumental debut album away from the Morafe collective. Zuluboy dropped his impeccable sample of Caiphus Semenya's iconic "Nomalanga," and JR's enormous "Gata Le Nna" was the daily bread in Pitori. It was right around these two years that we saw seedlings of what would later become superstars in "these other guys" (they called rappers all sorts of things back then) named AKA, F-eezy, Maggz, and a time when The Anvils (Blaklez and N'veigh) were a topic of the town. The man now heralded as the North god, Da L.E.S, was just breaking out of Jozi on his "Tippy Toes," and legends like PRO, Slikour, Skwatta Kamp, HHP, Teargas, Proverb, Tuks, Morafe, and (then) Tumi from the Volume - now Stogie T - were running the streets introducing our nation to this odd music genre that had half the kids sagging their pants and wearing oversized clothes. Driemanskap was another rap group that was further proving the possibility of our ability to represent African culture in hip hop with their potent spaza (Xhosa) rap. I remember picking up Igqabhukil' Inyongo years after they released it and being drawn to "Xenophobia" and "I Miss Home." Who remembers a (kwaito) artist named Drenko? I used to see him on TV with his pink hair and clothes - if my memory serves me right. Where is Gumshev (a duo of Bruno and Fistos)? In 2008 HHP stole the show at the SAMAs when he won Best Male and Best Rap on the night with his album Acceptance Speech, something of poetry if you ask me. In 2009 Jub Jub dropped an incredible album titled Fresh Air which sadly never got to see the light it deserved due to his life altering accident. This is the same year that afro-house group Rhythmic Elements were killing the streets with their smash hit, "2 By 2," just to give you context of how far back we're talking. Needless to say, we've come such a long way and the game has switched up - in more ways than one. You will see below the quality of music videos we had back then versus the movies we're now producing. I could go on for days on the journey of the past 10 years but I used music as my muse for painting this picture. We've compiled some tunes from back then so you can reminisce on the standard of hip hop and lyricism about 10 years ago, but also so you can remember how far you've come with this rap thing. If I've left some of your favourite song markers of that time, please do add to the list of memories?