(Left to Right: J.Cob, Shuffle, T-Mech)
Lesotho hip-hop has found a worthy contender for its first critic. Disser Disser, an elusive facebook character of whom I’ve just learnt about this morning, is a straight-talking, no-holds-barred, keyboard-savvy observer who’s taken full advantage of the web’s ubiquity (and relative anonymity) to, for example, respond to rappers’ invitations to their recording sessions with the statement “no,u should learn shit urself…tell me hore na o bina mmino ofeng (first tell me what type of music you sing)”. If cultivated, this brand of rap criticism could very well be the impetus needed to drive Lesotho hip-hop fully into public dialogue.
Facebook states that Disser Disser joined it on December 7, 2013. In little over a month, this character has managed to offend a couple of rappers, most notably Shuffle, who’s hurled incredible expletives in the said character’s direction. Two things are going to happen: either the hip-hop community in Lesotho allows Disser Disser the space to exist, to grow, and to flourish by encouraging the apparent attempt at engagement; or Disser Disser becomes a thorny subject among the very community he’s addressing. Currently, the latter seems to be the case. Either way, Disser Disser is quickly becoming a point of discussion in Lesotho’s hip-hop scene, and shall continue to be for the next three months at least.
*Disser Disser on facebook
*Listen to Shuffle’s diss song to Dunamis’ KOL crew here
Lesotho’s rap scene is undergoing immense growth at the moment. The level of interest from the general public is at the highest it’s ever been, a prospect which has attracted some form of investment from the corporate sector. While emcees have always been releasing music, it’s only been in the past two years that a following has begun to crystallize. A variety of factors can be pointed out. Cellphone giant Vodacom’s Lesotho set-up has the widest reach in the country; their Vodacom Superstars talent competition helped, in many ways, to make rap artists more visible. Rappers now adorn billboards and get paid decent money to perform.
The hip-hop charts hosted by Dallas T on the local radio station Ultimate FM have also had a hand in gauging public interaction, and the national television has also played a role by encouraging musicians to submit their videos for playlisting. For instance, one was guaranteed to see Kommanda Obbs‘ “Ts’epe” video twice on any given day throughout 2012. It will be interesting to observe what happens going forward. Litaleng, a performance venue which became a gathering spot of sorts during hip-hop shows, closed down recently. Are we going to see other initiatives step to the fore to offer a better live experience? Clearly there is an audience. Continue reading
This could be the most hilariously sexist song to ever come out of Lesotho’s hip-hop scene. Everything about it seems designed to offend feminist ideals, from the all-male make-up of the song – yes, Lesotho hip-hop still lacks strong female presence in 2013 – to the lyrical content (sample lyric *translated*: “women, don’t even deny/ you know you’re stupid“).
On the flipside, and since I know most of the guys on a personal level – our stories are intertwined through our shared experiences in rap cyphers, live shows, and recording sessions – it’s somewhat of a watershed moment on the scene, one that hopefully signals better collaborations going forward. This remix, facilitated by producer/emcee T-Mech, fuses my era of emcees – Skebza D, Anonymous, the former on the 7th verse while the latter takes the last verse – with the current crop – from TURK’s bar-setting opening verse, to Jiji’s diatribe about the list of women he’s got to hit up. So I won’t comment on the sexism. I’ve instead asked another friend, Mookho, for comment. Perhaps she’ll do a guest post :)
*Featuring, in order of appearance: Turk, Lemekoane, Jiji F, LebzaP, Nirex, Shuffle44, Skebza D, Juvy, Flix, L-Tore, and Anonymous
Jonson (L) and The Sage (R)
I got to hang out with an amazing bunch of producer friends about two weeks ago. Besides taking a few snaps, I managed to capture golden moments on film. One includes Sanhedrin getting uber-excited when someone (I forget who exactly) mentioned that they had a bunch of samples to give away. I even managed to put together this 1-minute visual thing on The Library, a production quartet based in Maseru, Lesotho.
Image by Gustav @ Iapetus
When I was coming up in Maseru Lesotho during 2001, I had no idea that ten years down the line I would be writing about an album that for months on end I struggled to even get a hold of a cassette version of. Even at the height of Napster (and the subsequent rise in illegal music downloads), Internet penetration was still fairly sparse. The implications were varied: I could not get anyone I knew elsewhere to upload the album; neither could I download it legally from any on-line store.
On the way to Hlotse, capital town of Leribe (one of Lesotho’s ten districts), one passes a place aptly-titled Crossong – a T-junction that can take one to either of three places: Northward-bound (Hlotse, Butha Buthe, Mokhotlong), Southward-bound (TY, Maseru, Mafeteng), or Westward into the heartland of Maputsoe. Infamous for its youth’s rough living, muggings, and the border post into Ficksburg, Maputsoe has of late had its image bolstered by the likes of Papa Zee and Kommanda Obbs – rap artists who, with varying degrees of success, have managed to captivate audiences thanks in part to Lesedi FM‘s wide reach. Continue reading