South African rap crew Skwatta Kamp’s contribution to South African hip hop is huge. The septet’s independently released album Khut en Joyn won the crew a South African Music Award (SAMA) in 2003. Their follow-up album Mkhukhu Funkshen went gold (25 000 copies sold).
I was in high school when a single off Mkhukhu Funkshen, “Umoya” was a permanent fixture on radio stations, shebeens, clubs, homes and car stereos. Kwaito was the genre of choice for most southern African teenagers at that time. Skwatta’s vernacular rhymes and kasi-centric hip hop beats made them acceptable because they were keeping it “local”. The crew consisted of seven members: Slikour, Initial M (or Nish), Bozza, Infadizzle, Nemza, Shugasmarkx, and of course Flabba whose tragic death we woke up to on Monday. He was allegedly stabbed by his wife.
Flabba’s Nkuli vs Flabba album came at a time when I was discovering “real” hip hop – conscious, thought-provoking rhymes and soulful beats. Flabba’s content has never been for the faint-hearted and he was definitely not trying to save anyone’s life. He has always made it clear that he didn’t give a f**k! I was never interested in his album but I must admit I enjoyed his singles–even if I would never admit it at that time. The album won him a SAMA for Best Rap Album in 2007. I was bitter that Zubz, Tumi and ProVerb who I revered–no, worshiped–lost to a rapper like Flabba who wasn’t putting that much thought in his words. I understand it all now, though. And I’ve definitely learnt that artists like Flabba, iFani and Pitch Black Afro have a place in hip hop, and I respect and acknowledge that they are, actually, geniuses.
Flabba’s “Is’bhamu Somdoko” single was catchy and thus did well on South African airwaves and television. The lyrics were replete with comical tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendos. The video was fitting too, showing Flabba walking around in his hood, Alex.
To say I was a fan of Flabba would be a lie but I cannot deny that I liked some of his songs especially when I went back to his old stuff after my transient phase of being obsessed with “real” hip hop. His lines made me laugh and I wish I had his “I don’t give a f**k” disposition.
Flabba, as a solo act, went quiet since Nkuli vs Flabba. All other Skwatta Kamp members (except Nish) released their solo projects and they still worked as a crew. Flabba’s official comeback was marked by a single he released in 2011 called “I R (Petrus)” where he was impersonating a racist Afrikaaner baas. It was Flabba on his comical tip as usual.
In 2015, Flabba was, alongside Kwesta, on DJ Sliqe’s “Do Like I Do” single. Prior to his death, he performed at the AXECESS gig which was headlined by American hip hop artists Schoolboy Q, Kid Ink and Rae Sremmurd alongside the elite of South African hip hop including Cassper Nyovest, Reason, Cashtime Life and more.
A lot has been said about Flabba’s tragic death. But one thing remains, South Africa has lost a hip hop legend. Condolences to his family and the Skwatta Kamp fam.
Last year we celebrated Skwatta Kamp’s breakout album Mkhukhu Funkshen’s 10th anniversary. Peep it here.
Rapper HHP has released a tribute song to Flabba. Stream below and download here.