The Cape Town rapper Patty Monroe was “Killing it” in 2016. Not only did this collaborative single with Uganda’s Bebe Cool, get voted number 1 on the #AfricanCollabos fan poll, but she performed in Kenya and Uganda – her first gigs outside South Africa. But if 2016 proved she could rap with the best of them, 2017 will be the year her versatility makes her stand out, for all the right reasons.
“I don’t wanna be seen as just a rapper”
It’s a Tuesday morning and Patty Monroe is sitting at the Mugg & Bean in Claremont, grinning from ear to ear. Her debut album, Malatjie, has just dropped three days before. “How am I supposed to feel?” she repeats my question back to me. “It’s a form of euphoria, you know. When you’ve had this vision and now you’ve completed it,” she says about releasing her first album.
Her star has been on the rise ever since she released her first single “High Fashion”, where she rapped over a house beat by Culoe De Song, followed by “Talk”, where she showed she could spit hard bars over a hard-hitting trap banger. But now there’s Malatjie.
The album took two years to make and boasts production credits from seasoned producers like Sketchy Bongo, MarazA, Muzi, Psyc’ AK, among others. It’s teeming with personality and emotion – you can see Patty sneering at you when she spits those braggadocios rhymes. And when she gets vulnerable, she takes you down that dark alley with her, kicking and screaming for more.
A huge amount of the production leans towards pop. “Killin’ It” has its counterpart in the dancefloor-ready “Oh Na Na”. “To The Top”, featuring Ameen, takes off where “Talk” left off with an eardrum-wrecking baseline and Patty’s energetic delivery. On songs like “Castles”, “Good Girl”, “Momma” and “Reminiscing”, it becomes clear she can sing as well as she raps. It’s this versatility that makes sure the 15-track Malatjie never sounds monotonous.
“I don’t wanna be seen as just a rapper,” she says. “I’m not just a rapper, I’m an artist, I’m a musician. But the only instrument I play at the moment is my voice, so I will sing when I feel like.” She enlisted up-and-coming singer, Caleb Williams, to coach her and bring out the full range and depth of her powerful voice. “If it wasn’t for him, the album wouldn’t sound the way it does,” she says.
“Some of the songs (“All I Got”, “Messi”, “Oh Na Na”) were recorded in a cupboard in Jozi, as in a mic in a cupboard,” she says, giggling. It’s surprising, considering how crisp the tracks sound.
“Half of the album was recorded at Ameen’s place and one song by Sketchy Bongo’s place.” Ameen, whose production credits appear on albums by the likes of Kwesta, Jimmy Nevis and Zubz, produced the songs “Castles”, “To The Top”, “Momma”, “Reminiscing”, “Fighter” on Malatjie.
“I get hurt, I get depressed, I get anxiety sometimes”
Patty opens up about “Fighter”, which she says was “difficult to write”. The song is emotional, revealing her struggles in the industry. It’s probably why she “wasn’t vibing with the beat at first”. But Ameen challenged her to do the song, and it’s now one of her favourites on the album.
“I get hurt, I get depressed, I get anxiety sometimes,” she says, explaining her vulnerability that comes out on songs like “Fighter”, “Reminiscing” and “Whiskey Sours”. “Nobody wants to expose that side of them. Humanity is just so obsessed with the social person. But in my album, I had to show the person I am inside. That’s what had to come out.”
Malatjie brings Patty Monroe closer to finding her own sound, she says. She knows she’s not where she wants to be, just yet, but she’s content with where she is today and optimistic about the future.
“Last year was the year of realisation and now I feel like it’s the year of manifestation. In 2016, I got the first stamp in my passport. I almost cried because I got showered with confetti in Nairobi.”
With all the hit single prospects on Malatjie, Patty Monroe should probably get used to confetti showers.
Buy Malatjie on iTunes
Image: courtesy of artist