Ben Sharpa charts specific enclaves as South African underground hip-hop figurehead-cum-electronic music practitioner. As producer, he is responsible for the dark, anti-pop leanings which marred both the Groundworx and Audio Visual’s output in conflicting shades of detuned classical music samples, clipped audio sketches, and down-tempo drum patterns. As emcee, he is always willing to speak truth to authority – a truth draped in layers of densely-populated metaphorical undertones, referencing anything/anyone from Asanda Baninzi to the late Hueman. He possesses the wit of an elder, chosen to go forth on behalf of all human beings to gather nuggets of wisdom from creatures of yonder; in his own words, he has seen “players pray with priests/ pimps in shiny, polished suits/ politicians, poor people, pack rats and prostitutes/“.
Focus then shifts to the artists on Pioneer Unit’s roster. All but one – Manqoba – had a firm following in Cape Town hip-hop before coming on board the label. Through time, Dplanet developed a vibe with artists whom he felt could contribute positively to the overall vision of the label. He tells me of how he and Ben Sharpa’s shared love for electronic music eventually led to them collaborating on various musical projects. Continue reading