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Durban hip hop news weekly

A pimp named Sarkozy

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By GIlda Van Schalkwyk

Hip-hop is blowing up big time in Durban and the underground movement includes a bunch of proudly South African hoppers.

The music industry in SA is a small one and more often than not, artists know each other and hang out together. Getting known in the industry means knowing someone, who knows someone who is already in it.

This is what happened to the rowdy bunch of energetic hip-hoppers who walked into my office last week. They had all met each other somehow along the way and each had visions of keeping hip-hop alive in our city.

Enter Mic Check Entertainment. Nkanyiso Ngcobo got into hip-hop in 1988 and was "jamming to the sounds of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Snap".

"I started rapping and listening to rap all through school. Eventually I looked around the city and realised there was no hip-hop outlet to showcase the genre," said Ngcobo.

After some exposure in other provinces, he returned to Durban, decided to find a venue and invite rappers, DJs, graffiti heads and break-dancers; the four components of the genre.

Eventually rappers were meeting at venues like the Bat Centre, where they held regular sessions.

Ngcobo started Mic Check in 1998 as a monthly matinée. It grew in popularity to the extent that acts now travel from Cape Town and Joburg to take part.

By about this time, Durban had nurtured several talented artists who have now joined forces to compile an album titled Isinamuva Liyabukwa, (The One who Laughs Last, Laughs the Loudest).

The official launch of the CD will be held on June 16 at The Beach Club. Artists appearing at the launch celebrations will include DJs Paperkut (who is featured on the CD), Renegade, Precision and Ntsika (from Durban Youth Radio) will be host for the evening.

The CD's release has taken place largely thanks to the eThekwini Municipality, who became involved in the recording from a business perspective. Ngcobo says the album took two years to complete.

Ntsika, aka "Ntsika to da Xha" says he started "digging the hip-hop beats" while he was in Grade 9. He then met Ngcobo after being introduced to the Mic Check sessions.

He is most proud of the fact that Durban Youth Radio focuses solely on South African hip-hop for two hours every Friday night.

"We just want people to be aware of the KZN talent and to support these local acts."

Now working on a solo album, a mixtape called Hip-Hop Shosha Mzansi Vol 1, Ntsika will use some unsigned artists from Cape Town who rap in Xhosa  

Next up on the lineup is Karabo, but he prefers to be known as DJ Precision. As all rappers and hip-hoppers go, they refuse to use their real names and surnames.

DJ Precision is one of those out-of-towners who wants to keep the genre growing in KwaZulu-Natal.

"I grew up in Mafikeng and got into hip-hop early on. I met various DJs and became exposed to underground hip-hop. Friends and I always got together and threw hip-hop gigs.

"I was just about to give up on it all when I met Nkanyiso and got involved in Mic Check. From there on out, I have been at sessions all over the city and have done the odd Tira and Sox gigs."

This rather savvy DJ is studying architecture and working on completing his degree while putting together a mixtape.

Another out-of-towner is DJ Renegade, who came to our shores from Mozambique in 2002. He is also studying architecture and is now in his third year.

Renegade's first gig was at Rivets at the Hilton Hotel and thereafter he met DJs Tira and Sox and Precision. He then met artists at the Inqaba Hip-Hop Sessions at the Bat Centre and is now working with Ntsika on the Mzansi mixtape.

"When I started out I'd play it by ear. I am quite a quick learner. Now you can find deejaying at the Panama Room, often with Tira and Sox, but I eventually want to move to Cape Town to work."

The only DJ out of this lot featured on the CD and involved in the launch is Paperkut - real name Verdine Petersen, son of Durban musician Roy Petersen.

Also developing a pa**ion for hip-hop at a young age, Paperkut grew up in Jozi and started as an MC in 1996. This 23-year-old was first introduced to the turntables through DJ Bionic, who owned Club Metropolis.

Paperkut got his big break when he co-hosted a show on Yfm.

"I came back to Durbs in 2002 and met Nkanyiso and all of us would chill at The Lab in Glenwood. It was a record store, where we all would hang out and drop rhymes."

He met DJ André, who taught him how to scratch, and he has played at places like Havana, Skyy Bar, Renaissance Bar, Tilt and Reform. He also plays a regular Friday night slot on East Coast Radio.

The gusto and pa**ion these guys have for their music is impressive. With so much going on in Durban, there is no room for complaints from Durbanites who say there is a lack of entertainment in the city.

Our city is alive and happening, it's just a matter of finding out where it's at.



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yo man, anything going down hiphop wise this thurs/fri in durbs?