The year 2014 saw the birth of a new sound, and what promised to be Mzansi’s very own independent hip-hop record label Cashtime Life.
Skhanda Republic was K.O’s first solo album – independent, and with it, pioneering a new sound with features from his then partners in the dust movement, Ma-E, Kid X, Moozlie, Vigilante and Maggz. The whole thing was looking like the ultimate win, and we saw them as the saviours of SA hip-hop, as they ushered in a new and authentic sound.
Fast forward a few years later, a lot has happened, in both the music industry and the Cashtime Life stable.
With these changes, I imagine that the Skanda Gawd aka K.O. has undergone a tremendous transformation too. From his then label mates, Maggz, Kid X, and Moozlie leaving the stable, to him no longer being as close with the ones I believe he considered family and got into the game with, Ntukza and Ma-E from Teargas.
The release of Skhanda Republic 2 was something I was patiently waiting on, for three whole years. Mainly to hear what K.O had to say about everything, at the same time get a sense of where he is mentally and spiritually because he’s not very open outside of music so the best place to find him, was his music. This is SR2, the rebirth of the Son Of A Gun.
Open the album cover and flip through the pages, you immediately get a sense of where K.O was when he made this album. When you flip through the music credits, just after his thank you letter, there’s a montage of him in the studio, him and his private life, in the pool, with family, and his fans and it becomes apparent that for this album, K.O wanted to give himself to his fans; in front of and behind the limelight, and how it all shaped the little boy from Mpumalanga.
The opening song, Above The Water, is a rather deep introduction to the project where we see K.O take us back to the first day it all started – October 13th the day of his birth in Baragwanath Hospital. Touching on his childhood and being the second born to Jabu and Thembeni, expressing his wonder and awe on how they managed to raise them of government cheques and his father being a part-time pastor at his church.
This intro immediately makes it clear that he wanted to let us know who Ntokozo really is and where K.O draws his strength expressing himself with words like “You were raising a bunch of boys even though you never had much, mara nenza sure ukuthi ifamily isharp, no we never thank you enough. I’m puzzled to this day from just what I observed cause you had everything your babies needed, covered through the work you did for the government” and goes on to express his appreciation and apologies for the years past and mistakes he made.
Back To The Beach hitmaker, Shekhinah was a perfect feature pick for this one because I don’t see anyone other than the impressive songstress singing “Family is all I need” and have you feeling like calling your mother and the whole family just to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
The album is composed in a way that it has everything that has made Mr Cashtime a household name, the kasi inspired beats, the foul mouth and effortless delivery. With that said, SK2 is very different from its predecessor, as much as it still carries the Skhanda DNA. K.O is running in a different lane here, he sounds more determined to leave a flame that will last through time and sounds more grown in terms of how he wants his sound to be. Whether this is a good or bad thing, the public’s response to it will tell all.
When it comes to KO’s singing, most fans might not all give a thumbs up. But songs like Keep Left, Pass Right I’m sure most will not complain about, the slow tempo, dark toned/ themed skit is really fascinating and makes one wonder what his mental state was when making this song cause apart from the catchy chant “you slowing me down sukendlelen’,” the switch up to the sound clip of a man screaming with conviction “Isende lendlela, inameva Thixo wami! Iyahlaba Thixo wami!” will leave you wondering what sparked it.
K.O separated this album into two segments and a bridge like the Keep Left, Pass Right skit was a nice way to take us to the second part starting with Legacy. Here he gives us the K.O we all have come to love: the foul mouth with a hood inspired flow and ad libs, crisp beat selection, as he finesses all over the beat with words like, “I think they must have forgot who the realest, I guess they need a reminder, k’phela kwenyanga iykhwama zigcwele ama kilp’ ama 50, ama tiger!” This song is definitely going to be a lot of people’s favourite on the album.
The second edition of the Skhanda Republic is something different and it seems like everything he’s been through over the past 2 years or so with Cashtime Life and even in his personal life, deeply influenced and helped shape this album.
Skhanda Republic 2 is K.O without most of the people he had grown close with over the years. The first Skhanda Republic offering was more K.O showing that he can carry the fire one man. Faced with the pressure of coming from a successful group, Teargas which gave us anthems like Mhlobo Wami, Another Chance and actually branching off as a solo act, he gave us a more aggressive but cool him, but on this one he definitely sounds more focused and determined and you can tell he wants to prove himself to his fans, himself and maybe even to his previous teammates. This might be a representation of the birth of a new Mr Cashtime.