Meet the up-and-coming Durban rapper performing at SXSW
by: Aziwe Rayi - 9 March 2017
For any artist, getting international recognition means you must be doing something right with your craft. And now the same can be said about Simphiwe Nyawose (24), better known as Robin ThirdFloor, a young hip-hop artist from Umlazi, Durban. He is scheduled to perform at the SXSW festival in Texas, which starts tomorrow.
“It was unexplainable hey, my team had been working on trying to get me to SXSW for the longest time, and finally I have a showcase, and it feels great,” Robin ThirdFloor says via email, describing the first time he found out he was billed for SXSW.
The annual festival is a notable feature in the global music calendar. It consists of showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. South African artists like K.O, Moonchild Sanelly and Petite Noir have performed there.
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Gqom, kwaito and house all co-exist in his music
Robin ThirdFloor’s sound dares to spill over into other genres like gqom and kwaito. On his latest single “Somdanger”, he attests to his versatility: “On the mic I’m Biggie, I’m Jay Z, mang’thanda ngiy’Trompies/ Mang’thanda ngiwuTira, uSox, uMpintsho, uBongz/ Mang’thanda ngiwuDanger, uProf/ Either way ng’yay’shubisa strong”.
“Somdanger” trended on Twitter this past weekend, and even got a cosign from DJ Cleo. And deservedly so. For someone like me, whose phone is filled with everything soul music, the song made me wanna dance and “vula my own sekele”.
Robin ThirdFloor says he wouldn’t classify his music under one particular genre. He rather makes music that reflects his mindset at the time. “It just so happens that I’m in a happy space and therefore ‘Somdanger’ was the product of that,” he says.
The artist has achieved a lot in a short space of time. His singles “Rolling Stone” and “Fly Away,” got him airplay on stations like Ukhozi FM and Gagasi FM.
His music, from the days of his 2015 EP Sounds Empty Pockets Make (S.E.P.M), has seen him delivering honest lyricism over boom bap production. “Sounds Empty Pockets Make was me telling the story of the challenges I faced as young black man following graduation,” he says. “Fast forward to late 2016, I was in a better space, and it started showing with the music I was making.”
The artist directs all his music videos, and prides himself in involving his community to help create unique music videos. “With ‘Somdanger’,” he says, “the concept came just after recording the song. I already had it planned out in my head that it would be shot in my hometown, and involve people from my community as much as possible.”
Comparison to OkMalumKoolKat
“Somdanger” is a party starter, which sees the rapper rapping in sparse sentence like OkMalumKoolKat does, over a high tempo drum pattern. Robin ThirdFloor admits that people have likened him to KoolKat. “We are from the same township, Umlazi, and the slang and aesthetics may sound or look similar, but really it’s just a reflection of where I’m from,” he says.
We are looking forward to hearing more from the artist.