YoungstaCPT is an OG having been in the game for over 10 years. In his long and successful career, he has gained from people in every section of the game. His relentless pursuit to represent his community and tell the stories of the have nots is what we come to respect YoungstaCPT for.
Slikour: I used to look up to legends like DJ Ready D and Emile YX and think to myself, ‘man I want to be like them’. I can imagine they had an even bigger impact on you because they’re from your community.
YoungstaCPT: Yeah they had a huge impact on me because they were from my community and they had an impact on the society of Cape Town, so their impact was bigger than music. I remember being in school and Emile YX used to come and teach how to do things like B-Boy. I remember how packed the halls were. There was barely enough space for all of us to practice our flares and frog splashes *laughs*. The things they did for the community might go unnoticed by the game at large but I would never be where I am today without people like them. In fact, the school tour that I did in 2016 was inspired by Emile YX’s school tours. He’s the one that showed me the power of school tours. Those school tours were important because it was more than music. Emile XY used to talk to the students before every show and it was powerful. He used to share knowledge about colonisation and all the things that aren’t taught in the textbooks.
In the world we live in, nobody cares about the people that live in underdeveloped communities. In a country that suffers from high unemployment and inequality, the government that is tasked with taking care of these people uses the resources to further its own interests through corruption. Coloured and black communities are the ones who suffer the most from this and society as a whole tends to turn a blind eye to them.
Slikour: What was it like to be in the studio with DJ Ready D & Emile XY and creating ‘Don't Vestaan? I don’t think we’ve heard those two on a song together.
YoungstaCPT: To my knowledge, I haven’t heard those two on a song and I think it was important to get them on that song. When I heard that Shaney J play the sample from ‘Understand From Where I’m Coming From’ by Prophets of The City, I knew I had to get DJ Ready D’s clearance. It’s funny because it’s usually DJ Read D who calls me and says ‘I have a song for you’, so it was dope that I called him and organised the studio session. DJ Ready D started off the verse with “still militant minded coming out of the confides once upon a time blinded, never getting tired of taking the fight to the tyrant”, I knew what I had to do with the song because DJ Ready D took it there. Emile XY’s verse was just that impactful when he rapped “over stand I’m from the land of Khoi and Sandbush man, first man took a stand from the looters of our land.” It’s crazy to think that I am at the point where I can pick up the phone and people like DJ Ready D will come through for me.
History is important because we need to know where we came from in order to understand where we’re going. The kids today don’t know where the history of Hip Hop in this country and where it originated.
Slikour: We all know that Senyaka started rapping in this country but I’m not sure if we are ready to have the conversation about how Hip Hop in this country has its roots in Cape Town?
YoungstaCPT: Man, I don’t know if we are ready to have that conversation as a country. With piano really blowing up in Joburg and Pretoria, I feel like Hip Hop still lives in Cape Town because the B-Boys are still active, the graphite artists are still active and the emcees are still active. All aspects of the culture are still alive in Cape Town. People like DJ Ready D are also responsible for the growth of Capetownian in mainstream mediums like Radio. Everything in Cape Town is run by the white man, so it’s crazy to hear an Afrikaans rapper at 1 PM. People like Emile XY and DJ Ready D built the kingdom and passed it on. My role is to look after it.
It is interesting that YoungstaCPT named the album ‘Dreams Don’t Pay Bills’ given the fact that his dreams have indeed paid his bills. It seems like the album plays on the duality of being a dreamer and the struggles you have to endure in order for your dreams to work for you.
Slikour: You titled the album ‘Dreams Don’t Pay Bills’. What are your dreams and what have you gone through in order to achieve those dreams?
YoungstaCPT: In a literal sense, dreams don’t play dreams but in a figurative sense they do. I wanted people to play around with that idea. The term ‘Dreams Don’t Pay Bills’ is a saying I’ve had written on my desk for the last 9 years but it’s something I only actioned in the last year with the struggles that came with covid. My dream was to be in the same room with big corporate brands based on the work that I’ve done in Hip Hop. I felt I had reached that point in 2019 and I had really established myself as a brand and a business. I mean I had stores, the Y?Gen brand and deals but that all came crashing down when covid started. I know rappers try to sugar coat it but I took a huge financial knock in 2020 and that’s when the dreams don’t pay bills really resonated with me, however those struggles came with their own blessings. I met people like Shaney J and Shariefah because of those struggles. I also had to tap into the mindset I had in 2010 and find ways to make things happen because I was in a situation where my back was against the wall.
Slikour: When your dreams do get answered, what you become shows whether you deserve them.
YoungstaCPT: I didn't notice how much I spoke about God on this album until I played the whole album back. I think I did that because I wanted to share a different message. This album is just a capsule of 2020 to 2019. I understand that the market today wants consumable stories and I can’t keep telling the same story the same way. My success has come with a lot of lessons. I’ve had to end relationships with people I was close to because they were starting to show signs of negativity and jealousy.
Slikour: I think it’s important for someone like yourself to tell the stories of coloured people
YoungstaCPT: It’s important for a coloured person to tell their own story because Cape Town needs representation, even if those songs don’t become hits. Things like that aren’t important to me anymore. Telling the stories about my people is what matters to me most and that’s the reason my music will live forever and catering to a market that is neglected by corporates forced me to build from the ground up because no one wanted to roll the dice on the coloured guy from Cape Town. I had to make something out of nothing. I started Y?Gen in 2010 and that way before rappers were making merch. Now that the brands are buying into what we’re building now they are open to having conversations with us. Now I have leverage when I engage in conversations with brands because all they can offer us is the funds to move more of our product.
Slikour: When I listen to a song like ‘Dagga’ I wonder how much of it is true. What would you have become if you weren’t rapping?
YoungstaCPT: Well, if you ask my mom that question she would tell you that I would have been a salesman because I’m a good talker and to a certain extent I agree with her because I could talk myself out of any situation but I don’t think I would have worked a normal job. I don’t even have a CV so I think I would have ended up being a criminal, not because I think I’m a tough guy or anything but more so because those are the people who everything a kid dreams of having like clothes and cars.
Slikour: I don’t think that people understand the trauma that you went through growing up in a community like that and you talk about that on a song like ‘Streety?Z’
YoungstaCPT: Honestly, I think I should have been in therapy from the age of 12. Growing up in the type of environment I grew up in was tough. You would come back home after being in a fight at school or even being robbed and your parents would essentially tell you to get over it. Not that I came from a cold home but there wasn’t a lot of time to lick your wounds because our parents grew up in the same environment and they had to get over it. Experiences like that shaped the artist I am today and I understand my purpose in life. Through social media, kids can see that they can become rappers instead of gangsters. The only way forward is through the youth. I named my label Y?Gen because it's for the young generation. We need to teach kids that they can be whoever they want but always remember, dreams don’t pay bills.