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Kwabulawayo Kraal – The Exclusive Interview


3 July 2003 No Comment

In this exclusive interview with Kwabulawayo Kraal I tried to get to know more about this group and what they all about. Based in Gauteng they first laced us with “IgoostYe Khahlamba” and are getting set to release what will probably be titled “Only Built For Amabutho”.

Can you start off by introducing yourselves to the hip hop world out here.

We started off as a large group of about ten or so, by then we were known as OAU (Omnipotent Army Undaground) that was in ‘95. As hip-hop grew in Tembisa so did the fame, which resulted in some of members jumping ship. By ’99 the Kraal was left with only 4 warriors, then in 2001 due to conflicts of interests one of our members betrayed his course and left the Kraal now the Kwabulawayo Kraal is the legendary Khoi, the Great Kiwi and the Godly Codesa. 

For those of us who only speak English or Afrikaans can you tell us, is Kwabulawayo a name of a place or something else?

The name Kwabulawayo is Zulu for Place of Death, it was King Shaka’s Kraal during his reign. As why we call ourselves Kwabulawayo Kraal there are many reasons: We view the world as a place of death, where only the brave survive, we view it as a dog eats dog world. Another reason is that we believe that King built the Kraal cause he wanted to unite black people and make one nation to stop foreigners from taking what’s ours. So we are on the same quest to great a hip-hop that South Africans would be proud of and call it their own. 

I remember I read about you quite often, I think it was on the YFM website, so can you tell us how you got started in hip hop, what influenced you?

Were influenced by rap in general, we are the generation that attended Club Q’z, Lé Club in central Jozi. It was after experiencing problems regarding the fact that only a certain crew was allowed to touch the mic that decided to do for self. We started organizing show at basketball courts around the township, which lead to the opening of Zniko, Mzantsi’s first hip-hop.

How would you define your sound?

The lyrics are in native tongues and the beats are soulful and influenced by traditional Zulu and Sotho sounds.

Who does the production for your music? What kind of beats do you feel the most?

Mostly by the talented Codesa and some we compose them collectively.

So what do you guys rap about?

It might sound like a cliché but we talk about social issues involving love for hip-hop, women and problems in the township both political and religious.

What emcees/groups are you feeling in this country?

Ourselves, Amu, Selwyn, Skwattah and everyone that incorporates native tongues in their lyrics. 

So when can we receive a copy of IgoostYe Khahlamba to review and add to our African hip hop library? Also, what can you tell us about that album?

Even though the album was poorly mastered cause of lack of funds, it is a musical revolution with the finest lyrics, beats on earth. We will send you a copy soon.

What other albums have you released? Anything in store for the future?

At the present we are busy with the follow-up to Igoost, which will be realeased on our own record label Amabutho Records and we are performing some of the songs on the Touch Base Hip-Hop Tour and man you should see the response. We are thinking of calling the album “Only Built For Amabutho (Warriors)” [LOL]. 

Tell us a bit about Raplist.

We started and funded the newsletter ourselves and we sold it for 50c. It had news about Mzantsi hip-hop and cats rappers were interview there, we might add that amongst the biggest names interviewed include Dead Prez, Mr. Len from Company Flow and Jean Gray when they were here. But the problems we faced with it were ridiculous, we would the same cats we were trying to promote didn’t want us to interview them because “who are we to interview them.” And some wanted to get it for free cause “you do should hip-hop for love” (and by the way we agree you must do it for love but love needs money too).

For the people out there who might not know why do you call it Mzantsi hip hop?

Mzantsi is Nguni for South and the word in tsotsi taal (township slang) means South Africa. And we as the Kraal believe that South Africa must have its own unique sound.

What would you like to see happen in this country hip hop wise?

Every man woman and child being aware of the culture as a whole not only rapping like most believe the culture to be.

What are you all time favourite albums?

[Kiwi] Sunz of Man- The Last Shall Be First, Mobb Deep –The Infamous Jay-Z- Reasonable Doubt and Gang Starr- Moment Of Truth.

[Khoi] Wu-Tang Forever, Cormega- The Realness, Pete Rock- Soul Brother Number One how can I forget Igoost Ye Khahlamba. Although it’s still early days but I think Amu’s The Life, Rap and Drama will go down as a classic.

What was it like you growing up?

[Khoi] Well be honest with you growing was the best part of my life though when I was younger I hated the life lived: had a strict mother, left my beloved Tembisa at age 12, moved at a suburb in Germiston with my mother and a stepfather I did get along with at first. Lost my dad at age 14. , Dropped out of Vaal-Tech and moved back to Tembisa against my parents’ approval at age 19. You can say I had it all but hated it [LOL] so all in all if I was offered to do it again I wont think twice.

[Kiwi] Face the same struggles faced by everyone who grew up in the township, of wanting to be successful.

Your best memories of hip hop?

It has to be the year 1997 in Zniko. Getting +- 400 kids packed in the club every week was the highlight.

What’s the hip hop scene like in Gauteng? What are it’s strengths and weaknesses?

Doors are opening for Mzantsi hip-hop to start making cash but lack of vision amongst rappers is going to close them, plenty kids don’t want hip-hop to progress. There is a lack of unity and more backstabbing. 

What would you like to see happen for Kwabulawayo Kraal as a group?

First thing is first: finish the album, second get it to as many ears as possible and then watch it change the sound of mzantsi hip-hop.

You guys obviously work so do people at your work know you guys are rappers? 

Yeah! Baby

What kind of food do you eat?

[Khoi] I love food so I eat what ever looks good in the eye and tastes great in the mouth.

[Kiwi] Any home cooked meal will does it for me.

Okay so if I was at a braai and we met for the first time what do you think my impression would be of you? 

Well, it would depend on whether we are the host or just there to have fun. If we there are the hosts we go an extra mile to make you feel at home. If we there to have fun we give the term having fun a new meaning. Not sure on what your impression might be (cause different people view thing differently) but one is for sure you won’t stop talking about having us a party.

Okay I’m gonna say some stuff then you must tell me the first thing that comes to your mind:

a) Amu

Been through hell and the results a banging album. 

b) Prophets of the City

Hip-hop pioneers true leaders of the old school

c) Ishmael

A wasted talent

d) Skwatta Kamp

Talented group with a plan and they have stuck to it

e) Tumi

A tight performer but the sad thing is that what ever he raps about the ordinary man on street won’t hear him, his hip-hop belong to the elite.

f) Death Code

Lots of potential but wastes most of his talents in useless ciphers. 

g) Snazz

Ill MC and loves the game a little bit too much that he most of the time forgets about himself and the phrase “Black man you on your own” 

h) BVK

Sadly we don’t know much about them except of the few appearances on TV. But we like to give props for rapping in Afrikaans, which doesn’t require a dictionary to the ordinary Afrikaans speaking person. 

i) MilkDaddy

The hip-hop will benefit a lot from people like you keep on keeping on.

j) Godessa

Best female MC’s and should be viewed as an inspiration not competition by fellow female rappers 

What would be the ultimate collaboration track?

It would be lovely to do a track POC or anyone that wants to rap with us.

It seems like such a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon, do you think it’s justified to have a fear that those who don’t love this culture will be those who make the most money?

Yes, because we are living in a capitalist world where everything that belongs to the people (customers) is going to be taken by the rich and they will exploit it. Although hip-hop needs the money and the majors are signing groups, we hope that hip-hop fans don’t have the false impression that the major record companies are going to back hip-hop forever, as soon as they lose money their will jump ship, look at kwaito, this is SA baby.

Is kwaito dead?

Yes and no: yes, cause the same people who force-feeded it down our throats are the same cats that doing house music and blame it on change in market. No, cause these nowadays whatever sound belonging to the youth and has tsotsi taal in it they call it kwaito. And the sad thing about kwaito is that it was created by opportunists who will follow the Rand straight to hell, so the music wont have a definitive sound.

Any memorable battles you could tell us about?

No, we don’t do battles cause it was battles that created false, untalented rappers who think they are the tight just cause they recited a few so-called punchlines that don’t even rhyme to a bunch of kids who don’t know jack about battles. And it is because of battles that Gauteng cats are so divided.

If people wanna hook up with you or learn more about Kwabulawayo Kraal what would they need to do?

At the moment we busy with setting up things like websites, hotlines but for now you can catch us on the Touch Base hip-hop Tour, which is currently taking place around Gauteng.

Thanks man for talking to us, your last words and shout outs?

Look for the new album and be sure that you are one of the people that witnesses hip-hop change cause as Method Man said “Things will never be the same after this one”. And as far as shout-out goes: to you MilkDaddy, Bambo, Syntax, Dolla and the best MC at these tours Morris and everyone behind the Touch Base Tour www.amuseafrica.com. Our people in Tembisa especially Mambisa Hip-Hop Movement members and those interested to join. Not forgetting those who want to see Mzantsi hip-hop grow.

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