YoungstaCPT, born Riyadh Roberts is an express train that we’re all happy to watch and in fact celebrate. He’s worked pretty hard to get to where he is heading.
With 29 mixtapes and several EPs attached to his name, it’s clear that he is one of the leading mcees of this generation.
His lyrical prowess is lekker kwaai (did you see him create a rhyme on shoelaces on the spot?), he has a distinct sound that allows his Cape Coloured accent to permeate smoothly through the intermixed Cape Afrikaans and English.
The Wittebome artist admits to starting out by imitating American music like everyone else but found it important to have his own unmissable identity in his rap.
Inspired by old school rap artists such as Xzibit, 2Pac, Mobb Deep, Nas and more. Although his music is not exactly politically driven, he does, (through his songs) assert himself as someone who is confidently aware of the socio-economic conditions affecting post-apartheid millennials living in the Wes-Kaap.
Roberts is spiritual and soulful in his reflection of his identity, culture, life and every other thing, which significantly sets him apart from other mcees.
Dropping singles like ‘Blame God’, ‘Let Me Be Great’ and ‘Hella’ among hit tracks such as ‘Wes-Kaap’ featuring Ganja Beatz, ‘Salutas’ and the recent ‘Yasis’. He also recreated ‘Bumb The Cheese Up’ which was a Johustleburg anthem that came out in 2013, giving it a Kaapstad spin.
We caught up with ‘Mr aweh’ (we call him that) at the Boiler Room event to talk about is music and the view he has on the local rap-scene.
What does Kaapstad mean to you?
If you look at Cape Town from an outside perspective, we have a lot to offer just in terms of the culture, the transport, the food, the scenery, the way we live and survive with less and make it look like we have more. Those kinds of things you only find in certain regions of the world. Even the way Capetonians do it is different to the way the rest of the world does it. So, if you come from a place that’s plagued with extreme poverty or just poverty and survived there and have done it in such a way that you’ve manoeuvred your way without getting trapped into the extremes of it then you’re living the lifestyle that I’m rapping about. From an author’s perspective there’s a lot to speak about, that is why I say my music is based on Cape Town and if you haven’t been here, you’ll feel like you’ve been.
How important was it for you to find a distinctive sound that was independent to the international sound which is essentially the prime influence in hip-hop?
I am influenced by the American culture still, for me it’s about taking the influence and not necessarily imitating it but interpret it and package it in such a way that is attached to my own identity.
You released ‘Salutas’ three years ago and it became sort of a Capetonian anthem. Where was your headspace when you created this song and how do you feel about its reception?
You used an important word, anthem and if you look at my songs you’ll see that it is a common trend. ‘Wes Kaap’ is an anthem, I dropped ‘Yasis’ yesterday and it’s going to become that too. I dropped ‘Bo-Kaap’ a while back and it’s another anthem. My formula is to make music, not for me but for the people. I’m not selfish when I’m writing, I’m not talking about how cool I am all the time — it’s about the people and Cape Town.
Like you said, you dropped ‘Yasis’ video yesterday, what exactly was the concept behind it?
It’s been a long work in progress, I pushed it back for about two years. Psyko Beats is an amazing producers and shot by Stanley John Films. Old collaborators and i’m just glad we produced it exactly the way I’d imagined.
You featured in Riky Rick’s ‘Buy It Out’ track from his recent Stay Shining EP, how did this come about?
It’s always good when your peers acknowledge your work and i’m just glad we didn’t make just a lip service of this song. We put a plan into action and we worked hard on it. Ricky spoke to me about it, he told me on a Wednesday he wanted the verse and on Thursday I went to the studio and made it. I’m a very efficient worker also that the Capetonians can see the bond between Cape Town and JHB. Initially there was always that gap and separate vibes but now we at least tried to get together and form the bond.
What does this Boiler Room event mean to you?
I’ve performed with Boiler Room before, the first one with Riky Rick, Frank Casino, Distruction Boyz, Nadia and Ganja Beats, we did the whole Cape and Goodhope set. I like to do special songs and performances at events that I know are going to be broadcast further than South Africa because that means I’m speaking to a global market so I have to make it work for the entire audience.
You recently toured in Australia for the second time, how did that go?
We’re teaching them and making them dance. It’s not easy because when it comes to South Africa all they know black and white, then there’s me in the middle, so they’re like so who are you? Where do you come from? And before I perform songs, I give them explanations on how to pronounce some words of the song repeatedly. It’s different to other guys shows who go there and just perform because they’re already speaking a language that they understand. So, there’s that barrier that we have to break and cross every time we go overseas but I am proud that we went and done it.
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