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Exclusive Interview With Metaphysics

30 November 2004 No Comment

Time for the legends! The Interview you have been waiting all year for. Africasgateway caught up with the man, Metaphysics to bring you this exclusive interview. Read on…

Welcome to Africasgateway. We chilling with Metaphysics. Yo, Meta what’s up?

Yo, what’s going on?

Thank you for having me on Africasgateway. I always log on and its one of the realest sites where you can keep up to date to what’s happening in the African hip-hop scene. Big up.

When people discuss southern African hip-hop and its pioneer hip-hop groups like Peace of Ebony or obscure underground hits by Kataklizim, somehow the name Herbert Schwamborn always pops up. Who is this mysterious character who seems to have had a hand in so many projects? Who is Metaphysics?

Yeah. Basically I’m Metaphysics and all those names you mentioned are projects I’ve been behind; creator of “Kataklizim“, creator of “A Peace of Ebony“…

I’m just a hip-hop head trying to get ahead.

Many people were feeling Kataklizim, mainly due to the very dope video that Channel O has had so many times in their play list. What happened to the group?

That’s good to know. I am surprised that video got so much rotation on Channel O in South Africa. It’s unfortunate that we never got an album to follow it up. But I am really glad… – Yo! Sorry. I got my man next to me trying to distract me, a brother by the name of Xavier Naidoo…-

Haha. Big up to Xavier.

(shoutouts, sounds like they having a party in the background)

Now you said the Kataklizim album never came out?

Yeah the Kataklizim never dropped in SA. We didn’t have money to actually print it. But we did manage to do the video and I am really glad it’s still on rotation. I still get a lot of love from the energy off that. We were just trying to be creative at the time, using the minimal resources that we had then: basically a camera, an editing team and just pure energy.

Who was handling the production?

It was me, basically…

Big Up.

At that time we were still trying to come to grips with production. Our music styles at that time were still developing. It was also hard trying to figure out a direction with our sound, whether we were to go for an ethnic sound or more of that NY gritty sound.

For the young heads can you tell us about Peace of Ebony?

Yes, POE was 1992. My first band I put together after I came out of high school. I can say that today, its one of my most successful projects.

Basically we had seen these cats like Universal Zulu Nation, ATCQ, the whole movement, STETSASONIC, etc… Everybody at the time in hip-hop was Afro-centric and we just felt that we had to create that African identity and that’s what it was.

It was sort of a young, innocent-like stage in African hip-hop and it’s us as musicians or emcees trying to develop. When I look back at it now I see it as an innocent project.

Tell us about your current project “Soehne Mannheims”?

” Söhne Mannheims” is a band of 14 members based in Germany. The leader of the band and main dude Xavier Naidoo is half South African, half Indian, -the brother that was shouting in the background. Right now I could say its one of the top German bands out there. It’s a very spiritually oriented band in the sense that we are trying to break down systems; political and brainwash systems.

Its not hardcore hip-hop or hard core pop. It’s just the fine line. It’s just a collection of musicians creating a movement that is quite revolutionary.

How did you hook up with Xavier?

I was running the underground circuit at the time and my rep was expanding. Xavier’s DJ heard about me, and at that time they were looking for an emcee that could express himself verbally in English. They asked me to come through, to check if I was on the level or whatever. Vinny was just blown away by the lyrical content and introduced me to the rest of the members who, including Xavier from word jump were like, “you a part of this”.

His (Xavier’s) joint with Rza last year was a banger.

Yeah for real. Rest in peace to ODB!

For real, rest in peace to Dirty.

Crazy… But yeah, definitely the joint with Rza was a No 1 single. He also signed a guy by the name of Carlos, who engineered the 36 chambers album.

How come we didn’t get to see you on the W.A.R. (World According to Rza) project?

Too much red tape man. Too much bureaucracy. The people behind it were major labels and they were targeting more well known / commercial figures from the region. By the time I got connected to what was going on, it was too late as most of the tracks had already been recorded.

I was feeling that project for connecting hip-hop heads from all over the world (or at least Europe).

Yeah, the intention was good but there was definitely an element of economic motivation. It still took someone like the Rza to be creative and hook something like that up.

It’s nice man, since then I have had the chance to share the stage with Cappadonna and Inspektah Deck. I rocked with the Rza himself. Those cats are real, man. People you listen to, try to emulate and its cool to finally meet them and speak to them one on one.

Which producers or artists would you still like to work with?

Right now I am trying to develop my own skills. There was a time I had like 50 names. I still admire the works of J-Dilla, I’m feeling 9th Wonder, Blockhead, dude that produced Aesop’s first joint and Def Jux. Those cats…

There are a lot of creative people, even in SA. The beats coming out now are banging!

Yeah, the scene is growing.

Definitely and I think just the accessibility of a pc and technology has just increased the level.

You got some dope social-conscious/deep tracks for real but peeps want to know what happened to Metaphysics the player or maybe you were never really that?

Yo, I got thousand aliases man. I got Crack Baby, that’s just one of my aliases. He is wild as fuck, a vulgar character! I just dropped a new promo album called Black Butterfly and that is mad jiggy. It’s got some ill ass jiggy tracks. It’s all about expressing yourself in many ways. I m not trying to confine myself man.

Do you think that it is necessary for “hardcore” artists to “water down” their content in order for their message to reach more people?

I don’t know how it is back home, if we still censored as much. But out here, you got songs like “Fuck it” or whatever blowing up. So that era of washing down your music is way past gone. If you know your audience and who you trying to reach then you don’t have to wash down nuttin.

It’s up to the artist?

Its up to you. If you follow the audience you will do something poppy for more airplay. But hip-hop is hip-hop. We grew up on NWA, you know: that vulgar essence of hip-hop. You don’t have to be shy of that.

What are your thoughts on the language debate going around that says mc’s should really represent where they are from, hence they should rap in their own languages (“mother-tongues”) and “keep it real”?

Like for me: When I was back home in Zim. We used to have songs that were specifically done in our native tongue, Shona. Because there are certain jokes or punch lines that you can’t really do or say in English, so we did it in our native tongue. If you trying to reach a mass audience then you have to communicate on the common level.

But I’m down! If you know cats in Soweto, up in Zola, Alex, on that gritty, wordplay… Cats in the Cape Flats they got those puns and those certain words from cultural influences that you can’t just emulate in English, then just SAY it! Why not? There’s no rules to this here. It’s about communication and if you communicate to the right people, the message that you’re trying to convey comes across.

I know you also get behind the boards and do your thing sometimes. As a beat-maker how do you feel about sampling?

If the sample is nice, I ´ma snatch it! But I had a problem with clearing those joints. That’s a B. Just trying to clear them, takes longer than making album. So now I am swaying away from it. And being surrounded by so many musicians sort of inspires me to play. But I survive off that (sampling).

“With confidence I turn my words into art” Dope lines man. How do you find inspiration to write? What kind of zone do you have to be in?

I grew up listen to the real cats, Rakim, Krs, and Nas. I grew up amongst wordsmith’s. Peeps like Aesop. People that when you are alone, listening through the headphones and you turn the volume up, they can take you and put you in the picture. I always felt it is necessary that if you working with words then whoever is listening should be able to feel you; to be able to stand with you, in that rhyme.

Honestly, its motivation coming from cats that I listened to before.

You have done television work before so I guess you always had an interest in the visual arts. How was the experience working at the SABC?

I did “Shell Road to Fame”. I did inserts and started a video production work for Arthur, Makhendlas and the Kwaito scene-

Quickly, how you feel about Kwaito?


Kwaito music?

Its dope man. But it depends because there is some funny-bunny-gaye shit out there. I’m feeling the raw stuff.

True, true…Now, back to the SABC. Was the Old Guard willing to try the new ideas you guys were bringing to the table?

For me it was a case of survival. I had to pay the rent. To a degree you had to confine your creativity to what they wanted. But I’m a renegade. I grew up on hip hop music, and hip-hop at that time was about change. Slowly they came to grips that they couldn’t stop this cat! It wasn’t only me, there were other cats too: Tim, Crooked Tooth… Renegades trying to change the face of the industry.

But TV is still the system. At the end of the day I was just using the system to get some ends to do what I wanted to do.

Your video discography is quite impressive. When can we expect a DVD compilation for those that can’t hunt down all them joints or those too gangsta to watch MTV?

I don’t know if I’ll put it on DVD because I don’t think it’s worth charging people for those particular videos. But if I can, it should be possible that you can just contact me and I will send them to you.

I remember an insert on the “INSIDE INFO” magazine and it was about you driving around going to various record labels, looking for a deal. Do you remember that one?

Yeah, I never got that record deal man. Shit never happened. *laughs*

Your exploits were unsurprisingly fruitless. How frustrating was it to find a deal for a hip-hop artist back then? What excuses were given to you by the labels then?

The thing with major companies is that there are too many people in positions they don’t really have no control over. Everybody answers to someone else. Or you dealing with some guy who is in charge of the Kwaito department but goes home and listens to his Rock albums.

That just gave me a deeper insight into how things work there. Those guys sitting in their cozy offices… their time is up!

It motivated me to become independent and that is the energy I carry on to this day.

From “Hectic Poetic” to “Söhne Mannheims”, you have been a member of so many group efforts but you still have solo joints out there. What do you enjoy more, working with others or going out for self? Is creativity limited within a group?

Not really, especially if you working with masters of their trade. You can only learn.

I definitely prefer solo on my hip-hop stuff because then I work faster. But I also get a lot of inspiration working with a group or a band because someone is always taking it to the next level, to new heights. You can learn from those elements and apply it later on your own stuff. So I am comfortable on both ends of the spectrum.

What was your first hip-hop tape/lp? Can you still remember?

My first experience was, my grandfather bought me a ghetto blaster. I turned it on one Wednesday evening and the first thing that came on was a program called “Raptivity Jam” hosted by a cat called K-lib Tondelani (sp?). It was ill! One of the tracks that stuck to me was a track called “Fast Life”, by Grandmaster whatever and I could relate to that shit. I was like what the fuck is this?!!

So on the next day I went out on a mission to find a tape with that kind of music. The first tape I got was Run-DMC. They were aight and I was lucky that my copy was an original. Some older cats wanted that and one of them told me he’d give me 2 tapes for that one so we swapped and I ended up with a MC Sheisty tape and Audio Two. Audio two just took it to another level!

Top Billing?

That was a classic man. “What more can I say?”

In unison: “Top Billing!”

What can we expect from Meta in the near future?

I don’t know man. I’m trying to get back home and release some stuff. Look out for a January – February release of a compilation called “Collection of Supressed Thoughts” on Afro-lution Records, a new label by my man, Trent Birch. Cats back home better look for that!

It’s a selection of tracks I have done over the last couple of years. Some hot, some lame… It’s just to give cats an idea on how we have been holding it down this side. Either than that, everyday is a new track man.

As an experienced one, what advice do you have for young African heads on the come-up?

Be yourself & do you!

Realize what you intentions are. If you trying to make money, then come up with a solid business plan. If you trying to be righteous in this shit, then seek knowledge from those who have been through it before you. Just be you.

Meta that’s it from my side. Thanks a lot!



Afro-lution records: http://www.afro-lution.com/

Official Metaphysics site: http://www.metaphysics.de

Xavier Naidoo & Soehne Mannheims: www.soehnemannheims.de

Discography and Bio(under artists section): http://www.pyramid-music.com/

video discography:  AG Forum Thread

Interview by Fahfee.

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