Shaking it up in Hip Hop
Hip Hop is a genre that many people love and can identify with. To both these young men, Hip Hop has been a home and a sanctuary of expression equaled by no other genre. I spent a day with both these talented beatmakers, rappers and vocalists in their most comfortable and creative spaces – where they make their music.
The multi-talented soulster: Siphesihle “Dilaska” Sithole
“Hip hop offered me freedom… Hip hop offered me a bigger canvas to paint my picture” _ Dilaska
Dilaska is a beatmaker, producer, rapper (alone and as part of Password Crew alongside Sabza, Maxhoseni and Jay Tip), vocalist and all round creative from Es’khawini, KwaZulu Natal. Dilaska and I spent some time talking about a lot of things, including his entry into the music industry, his thoughts on the Cape Town versus Durban hip hop scene and the art of making good music.
The KZN born producer/rapper/vocalist says his musical journey started way back in lower primary as part of an Isicathamiya group; he continued with music (specifically Indlamu and later on choral music) all through his schooling career. Fast forward to 2007 at the University of Zululand, he was introduced to people (Jay Tip specifically) that would play a pivotal role in helping him kick start his career as a rapper and a beatmaker. Dilaskas’ love for hip hop began in the ‘90s during the kwaito era and intensified when the likes of Mapaputsi, TKZee and Zola were dominating the kwaito scene; a time when kwaito artists were more vocal about issues that were affecting society as a whole.
He describes his sound as a musical sound, rather than a strictly hip hop sound. “… having dope people around me, they push me to be more creative”, he says when asked about where he gets his inspiration from.
Now, most would argue that the word “good music” is very subjective but to cut matters short, a good musician to me is someone who is gifted with the ability to be able to evoke emotion in people through song. I also regard a good musician as someone who is brave enough to tackle certain societal issues in their songs; and of course in a time where everyone thinks that they can make music, a good musician is one that can make timeless music. All of these attributes combined make a complete – “good musician”. With that being said I therefore make the claim that Dilaska is a good musician.
His music has a certain quality to it, that is sometimes hard to find in the “underground” hip hop scene, and this he stressed more than anything is important to him when making music, quality!. He also believes that artists should always show their “true selves” through their music.
His upcoming mixtape, Suffer No More promises to be a game changer as he has worked with a myriad of artists. The Suffer No More mixtape is coming out soon so keep your eyes and ears open for that, but to listen to some of Dilaskas’ work you can check out his blog www.dicentmusic.blogspot.com. On twitter he is @Dilaska and Siphesihle Dilaska Sithole on facebook
The sample Master: Luzuko “Blaq Scientist” Sonti
Do you know some of those beats that when you hear, you feel like you are not appreciating them enough unless you jump up and down and dance like you are in a trance? Well Blaq Scientist makes such beats.
My day started off in Khayelitsha, Cape Town with beatmaker, rapper (part of the crew The Lab alongside Dhig) and winner of the best beatmaker award in the Zabalaza Theatre Festival. Luzuko Sonti, better known as Blaq Scientist is arguably among one of the best beatmakers Cape Town has to offer at the moment. His soulful and flawlessly sampled beats have earned him the respect of many in the Cape Town hip hop scene. He first arrived in Cape Town, from the Eastern Cape, in 2010 and says he owes his musical genius to his brother, who introduced him to the art of making beats.
Before our meeting I gave Blaq a “challenge”, ( which proved to not be much of a challenge for him). I wanted him to make a beat as quickly as he could, sample a beat right there ans then, with me watching. He whipped up a beat in approximately 15 minutes. He asked me to choose an old school song for him to sample so I chose Dandelion by Tevin Campbell. Unfortunately he didn’t have the track so he settled for Marvin Gaye instead. Using the fruityloops programs he layed on some kicks and claps (and some other beatmakery things), and a beat was born.
He agreed with my sentiment, that the challenge was not much of a challenge for him, so he continued showing me some of his most recent work.I then asked him why doesn’t he consider compiling a beattape, as he has so many beats on file. He coolly answered that it was just not the right time. He is currently concentrating on Digs mixtape and doing some other with other artists.
Having caught them on their way to the studio to record a track for Digs mixtape, they offered to let me hear a sneak preview. They serenaded me with a beautiful love song with exquisite harmonies – I’m a sucker for harmonies!
Blaq took me through the process of how he makes his beats, whipping up a sample in approximately 15 minutes; it sounded great by the way. He says he enjoys sampling and frequently samples music that he grew up listening to; the likes of Percy Sledge, Marvin Gaye etc.
When asked who inspires him musically, he pauses for a second and then mentions his crew mate Dig and the music that they make together. He also mentions that artists that do justice to his beats make him want to be a better beatmaker and says he loves artists who he has a give and take relationship with. “Artists like Jargon Music and Rivln Clique inspire me to work hard, as I know that they always deliver”. Internationally he says he draws inspiration from artists like Ian Kamau, K’naan and listens to a lot of Ragga music. Beatmakers like Mtezman, Matic, Pzho from Cape Town and Jay Tip from KZN are beatmakers that he respects and admirers.
Blaq says artists should always create art that has a meaning. He further states that not all music has to sound the same, but should speak to something more than just art.
When asked what his hopes and aspirations for the future are, Blaq confidently replied “I wanna be a star”, referring to a song of the same title by his group, The Lab. He asserts that he doesn’t want materialistic startdom but would much rather prefer leaving a lasting legacy. He wants to inspire other beatmakers the same way he was inspired.
Dig says working with Blaq Scientist has been a blessing for him and he admires how Blaq can take something simple and transform it into something magical and musically powerful.
Once in a while, the music industry gets a blessing by being injected with a soul that is both talented and completely invested in the art of making GOOD music. Blaq Scientist is one of those people. His easygoing and friendly nature complement his true gift.
To hear some of his work check out his soundcloud on www.soundcloud.com/blaqscientist, on twitter he is @blaq_scientist and Luzuko Blaq Scientist on facebook.
Blaq Scientist gets a slow clap from me!