Cape Town rap quartet Driemanskap signed with successful indie Joburg-based record label Native Rhythms about a month ago. It’s a huge step for spaza (Xhosa hip hop), which has struggled to reach audiences beyond the borders of The Mother City and the Eastern Cape. Driemanskap was previously signed to Cape Town indie label Pioneer Unit since 2007, under which they released a solid debut album, titled Igqabhukil’inyongo in 2009.
Though Driemanskap have struggled to gain mainstream success in South Africa, they have performed in Europe, but under Native Rhythms they are poised to blow up. The label’s founder, veteran record executive Sipho Sithole signed Skwatta Kamp and Pro(Kid) for Gallo Records while working there, and his Native Rhythms has unearthed stars such as Zuluboy, Zakwe, Camagwini, Siphokazi, and most notably The Soil.
Driemanskap’s follow-up album, Hlala Nam has been in the pipelines for about three years, leaving fans wondering if they’ll ever get to own a copy. We spoke to the four dudes about Hlala Nam, their signing and the future of spaza.
Live SA: How did the Native Rhythms deal come about?
Driemanskap: We had been in negotiations with Sipho Sithole for the past three years. Furthermore, it was fans on social networks who were campaigning for this signing to happen so this year we decided to make it a reality.
Live SA: What does your signing mean for spaza and Cape Town hip hop?
Driemanskap: We want to be the gateway for up-and-coming spaza artists from Cape Town. We’ll build a spaza empire.
Live SA: How did you part ways with Pioneer Unit?
Driemanskap: We were on a one-album deal with Pioneer Unit [for] Igqabhukil’ Inyongo. There’re no bad vibes between us, we’re still friends and we’ll still be working together, we [just] wanted to flip a new chapter.
Live SA: What do you think Native will do for you that Pioneer could not?
Driemanskap: When we started with Pioneer in 2007 we knew nothing about the industry. They were also new, but obviously with more knowledge. We basically helped each other grow. But both parties agreed that it would be a good move for us [to leave]. Native Rhythms has branded a lot of artists, and with the connections and muscle they have, they’ll take us to the next level. More visibility, accessibility, more tours, more revenue, basically, more work and more growth.
Live SA: You guys are dropping an EP soon. Please take us through it.
Driemanskap: We haven’t released in a while, and the subject matter is mostly around that, the reasons for it. We incorporated different sounds for the EP, from the typical boom bap Driemanskap sound, to soulful and Driemanskap’s version of turn up. Kholekile “Khosh” Buyana, who we have a great working relationship with, produced most of the beats. Zolani “Phizo” Ponco and Ma-C-ya produced the rest.
Live SA: Will Hlala Nam’ see the light of day?
Driemanskap: Our EP is a taste of our upcoming album. So to answer your question; yes, Hlala Nam will follow after the EP has made rounds and tested the waters.
Live SA: People feel like you guys will change your style now that you’re signed with Natives: What is your response to that?
Driemanskap: A day or two after the signing was announced, someone tweeted, “I hope Native Rhythms is not going to change Driemanskap’s style.” Native Rhythms replied, “We signed Driemanskap for their style”. So no, we will not change our style, but expect growth.
Live SA: What do you feel Cape Town hip hop lacks?
Driemanskap: What is lacking in hip hop in general is mutual respect among industry peers. It’s an extremely competitive industry, and moral support is much needed yet we as artists entertain what’s trending on social sites; the famous “who’s better than who” debate.
Live SA: Apart from the EP and album, what more can we expect?
Driemanskap: There are more music videos to come as well, some of them shot in Europe. There are also a lot of international collaborations and projects. We have the Kwaai Tour (cultural exchange of South African and Swedish Artists) in August and September going to some southern African countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.