Up-and-coming Khayelitsha spaza duo, Gudfellaz released their debut mixtape, First Attack last year. Still on a quest to get the tape to the people, they took some time to chat to me about their challenges, triumphs and the Cape Town hip hop scene among other things. This is how it unveiled.
LIVE: Who is Gudfellaz?
Gudfellaz: Is a rap duo made up of Luyanda Kwepile a.k.a Lemzin and Zuko Ntluko a.k.a Emzetkay. We both hail from Khayelitsha, Cape Town. We met through hip hop circles as solo artists back then and became friends. Later, we started writing music together as Gudfellaz. The crew was established late 2011.
LIVE: Why that name for the crew?
GF: The name was inspired by our personalities, our beliefs and how people view us. We’re always seen as these humble guys who hardly have issues with anyone. The name was inspired by that. We want to show people that it’s cool to be a good guy.
LIVE: When did you guys start?
GF: We started late 2011, and 2012 was when we were seriously putting in work.
LIVE: And I understand y’all started as a trio. What happened to the third member, Matto Murv?
GF: Mattor Murv is still around doing his thing. Unfortunately we parted ways with him due to lack of commitment from him and a matter of [his] priorities lying somewhere else. He is still our brother though – we hang out together, we do music and he’s also featured on our First Attack mixtape.
LIVE: How would you describe your music?
GF: I always find it a bit tricky to describe our style of music because our sound is diverse. We always try to come up with something unique. We still keep it hip hop tough, mixed with different influences from other genres of music. We like to share our stories – personal, challenges we face, expressing our ambitions and talking about social issue we face in the townships – through songs. Our sound is friendly to everyone from youngsters to elders.
LIVE: How was your mixtape First Attack received?
GF: ‘First Attack’ was received well by the public and the media. So far our two singles from the tape also played a big role in introducing Gudfellaz and First Attack to the masses. The cover design also played a big role. Shout outs to Inffo Lemena for the design, and Thembelihle Ntshayi for taking the pictures, and us for the idea and directing the cover. The people were blown away by the cover. Those who bought the CD gave us good feedback. We still feel though that there is still a lot of people who haven’t been exposed to it.
LIVE: What was the idea behind the tape? What message (if any lol) were you trying to get out there through the mixtape?
GF: We first wanted to prove to ourselves that we can construct a project on our own without being assisted by a label or anyone. We wanted to test our business skills and actually use the experiences we have gathered in these years we have been doing hip hop. We wanted to grow. We were tired of being dependent on people for things to happen for us. We wanted to make things happen, fail and learn from our mistakes. It was us attacking the Cape Town game from a different direction, from creating our records to bringing our own style of music. The message is we wanted to portray our lives with the music. We were giving people insight on our lives. We wanted to share our stories,our struggles, beliefs, ambitions etc. Most importantly was to motivate and inspire the youth to learn to stand up and do things on their own and make things happen without any fear.
LIVE: What have been the highlight(s) for you guys as Gudfellaz?
GF: Being nominated four times and presenting an award for best lyricist on the Hip Hop KasLam Spaza Awards. Rocking the crowds around Cape Town and touring places like Ceres, Worsceter. Enjoying major airplay and our 1st single ‘Mthande Naye’ being voted number 1 on So Fresh So Clean on Heardwamaz Hip Hop Show beating 39 songs. “Mthande Naye” being number 1 on [the now-defunct] bulletonlineinc website within weeks of release. Releasing First Attack. Being main acts at Kool Out Lounge. We also made history at the Hip Hop KasLam iFreedom Yethu show by being the first crew to have ever performed with a drama group, dancers on stage all at once.
LIVE: What did being nominated for the Hip Ho Kaslami Awards mean to you?
GF: It meant the more work we put in the more people focus lol. First Attack got nominated in a space of five months released, with two singles out. So that inspired us to work even harder.
LIVE: What are your thoughts on the Cape Town hip hop scene?
GF: It’s too segregated. We are not one. You have spaza cats doing the own thing emakasana then you have the coloured guys and English rappers dominating the scene in uptown. There’s little progression. We still doing the same thing over and over again – same cyphers whereas there is lots of talent though but few supporters who are willing to spend money on this art. Few promoters, few sponsors but there is still some positive energy out there and hustlers who are willing to take this to the next level.
LIVE: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
GF: Staying relevant to the Cape Town scene since the fans are focusing on beefs and battles. There were a lot of those last year and seemingly this year won’t be any different. Getting gigs especially paying gigs. Radio stations not playing our music as much we would like.
LIVE: What can we expect from Gudfellaz this year?
GF: We will be doing kasi to kasi tour, still pushing First Attack. We will shoot a music video for “Sfun’iphepha”, drop another single and hopefully shoot a music video for it. Be on the look out, you will be reading more about us on these magazines and newspapers.
LIVE: Any last words?
GF: Thanks to everyone who supported Gudfellaz from day-one ’til now. Thanks to you who has just become a fan of Gudfellaz. Keep on supporting us, you give us the power to sustain this brand. Our debut mixtape First Attack is still available from us and you can get it at the African Music Store – on Long Street in Cape Town. Also look out for Khayelitsha AllStars mixtape that we are part of. It will be dropping late April 2014. it is titled Respect The Code .
Images: Courtesy of GUDFELLAZ
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