Lesotho Hip Hop In 2013

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.

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I recently followed the duo Terama le Lemekoane (Nkopane Mohola and Thulo Monyake respectively) on their mini-tour to Bloemfontein. Their music is a hybrid of kwaito and hip-hop influences peppered with hyper-local references and smatterings of pop culture memes. Lemekoane recently moved to Lesotho semi-permanently after being based in Cape Town for a few years. He is among the new wave of Lesotho-based producers and musicians working tirelessly to bring a semblance of respect to Lesotho’s arts sector.

After recording and releasing Basali, a with collaboration RMC, Monyake had the idea of gathering a broad range of Maseru emcees on a remix. Subtitled the All Stars Remix, the song has since gone to get featured on a South African rap compilation, and even sparked off what the All Stars saw as a direct bite from Motswako rapper Lection.

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Terama le Lemekoana were joined by RMC, Jiji-F, and T.U.R.K. After picking me up from the Majakathata taxi rank, we headed off to campus radio station Kovsie FM for an impromptu interview. They were promoting their show at a hip-hop event called Ground Kontrol later on in the day. I captured some amazing moments, like everyone’s reaction after Terama spat his verse for an alternate version of the Basali remix. Hopefully I’ll find the energy to cut up the footage. For now, there’s this photo-essay on facebook.

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