By Mpho Lehlongwa
Photography by Rofhiwa Maneta
South African hip hop has grown tremendously since the days of Prophets of the City (POC). Today we can safely say that Hip Hop has given birth to a lot of big South African artists. With that being said, I got a chance to meet up with Dream Team – who are one of the biggest Hip Hop crews in SA – and hear what they had to say about the game and their future plans.
On the day of the interview I get a call from one of the guys (Trey) who tells me they’re downstairs and ready to do the interview. Without any further delay I make my way down to meet the guys and we head to Kitchener’s (a popular bar in Braamfontein) to do the interview.
Dream Team, blew into the hip hop scene with their hit single Tsekede, and have graced us with some hot music videos and live performances over the past year.
We get straight into the conversation and discuss the responsibility of artists and record labels in music distribution. Trey, who is one-third of this trio, says that “it becomes difficult to say whose responsibility it is, because that would depend on where you are in your career. I mean if you are an established artist we won’t have a problem with finding your music”.
He has a point. Finding music of an established artist is easier than finding the music of an upcoming artist. But regardless, artists should always push their material to a point where it’s available everywhere, and they agree saying that “primarily the marketing is in your own hands”.
There aren’t many platforms where artists can push their material, but these guys try by all means to get their music out. Dream Team is signed to an independent label, and I questioned some of the challenges they face compared to artist who are signed to a major labels.
“With hip hop it’s different because how many successful mainstream artists are signed to major hip hop labels? I can only think of Ifani,” they respond.
Which is true, majority of our big names in hip hop are signed to independent companies. The likes of AKA , DA L.E.S, L-Tido are guys who are signed to independent record labels and are doing well in the mainstream business.
We go on to talk about the lack of consistency from new-comers in the hip hop industry and how they release a few good songs, then we never hear from them again.
“You’ve got to stay relevant at all times, and good quality music plays a big role in what you do. If you make good quality music you will stay relevant because people appreciate good quality music”.
That is exactly what I noticed about the crew’s single, Tsekede, which has become a nationwide club anthem. The success of this single went on to spawn a remix featuring AKA and Big Nuz.
“Initially, when we dropped the remix, people did not like it. But when the video dropped people warmed up to it,” they begin.
“We make quality music. Nobody has ever played our music because they were doing us a favour. They play our music because its quality music,” they continue.
With that being said, it shows how visuals to a song can also play a role in making it popular and loveable. I asked about how the concept of fusing kwaito and hip hop came about.
“When making classics and hit songs you don’t usually plan, which is usually the best way to make a hit. We didn’t plan it. It just happened” they stated.
To end the conversation we spoke about their future plans and what they’re working on. They tell me they’re working on a new album. The first single recently dropped from the album is titled ‘Phambili’, and it features the legendary maskandi singer Ihashi Elimhlophe. The crew also touched on who might be featured in the album, mentioning that “in terms of features we try not to do too many. For the Tsekede remix we worked with the biggest guy in hip hop, AKA, and also worked with the biggest guys in kwaito, Big Nuz. So, for the the follow up, we decided to work with maskandi legend Ihashi Elimhlophe”
The potential for these guys to be the biggest hip hop crew in South Africa is huge. They are the whole package, image, music and energetic performances. Watch out. This may very well be the year The Dream Team makes their mark in the game. And, by the looks of things, they’re going to be around for a long time.