Back To Interviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush

Mass Dosage: Firstly, the basics - your names, approximately how long you've been doing graffiti for, where you come from and so on.

Mak: Mak and Falco, we've been doing graffiti for 19 years and we're from Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town.

MD: How long has the Cape Town graffiti scene been going? How did it start?

Falco: It started in the 80's when Hip-Hop arrived here. People were inspired by films like Wild Style and videos by Malcolm McLaren. A number of crews started. It was mainly in Cape Town, not so much the rest of South Africa. We've got to give respect to people like Gogga who were some of the originators of this shit in this country.

MD: Who do you see as being the audience for your work?

Falco: Everybody. All races, all religions, all ages!

MD: Internationally, and I think locally as well, when people think of Hip-Hop they just think of Rap music, how do you see Graffiti fitting in to Hip-Hop culture as a whole, and how does it contribute to it?

Mak and Falco smiling
prettily for the camera Falco: OK, firstly, writing on a wall has always been around, it's how history has been recorded in many ways. But let me tell you about when it started out in the 70's - the kids who were doing the writing in the Bronx and putting their names up everywhere, were the same kids who were going to the James Brown concerts, going down to the soul sessions and shit. They were the same guys doing the B-boying, known as breakdancing, they were hanging out with the guys who were the rappers. So, it was like one big community and everybody moved together. When there was one thing like a jam happening, or a b-boying party, their friends would be the writers who would obviously be invited to come along. It was all interlinked, and so automatically everything got incorporated. B-boying is the physical, MC'ing is the verbal, DJ'ing is the aural and graffiti is the visual. That's how it grew up together, but the artform of graffiti has always been around. MC'ing has also always been around. Like I said, the same kids were doing it and they came together and started the culture. Africa Bambaata of the Zulu Nation (a Hip-Hop organisation) used to belong to a gang called the Black Spades in New York. And a lot of the B-boys also belonged to gangs but they all lived in the same neighbourhood, and would all hang out in the same park and so they took it from there. When they chose six members of Rock Steady Crew to tour the world, to promote Hip-Hop, they took it as a product - the graf, the DJ'ing, the b-boying and the MC'ing. That's what we're trying to promote - everybody goes together, if you say you're into Hip-Hop and you only listen to Rap music then you're talking bullshit. Being into Hip-Hop is being an activist - you're doing your shit and you're showing your shit. Many times I go to Hip-Hop jams and there are people walking around with R1000 jeans on saying they're into Hip-Hop and you ask them if they know NWA or Biz Markie and they're like "Who the fuck is Biz Markie, Schooly D?" They say they're into Rap and they don't even know the early MC's.

Mak: The thing about them is, they think if you listen to Tupac you're into Hip-Hop. But that doesn't make you a true Hip-Hopper. A lot of people who listen to Tupac are ravers, guys with tight pants and tight T-shirts.

Falco: Hallo, ek het 'n tight broek aan! (both laugh) There's a lot of shit about stuff like this. But it's also the music videos man. The media are the biggest motherfuckers who are to blame for everything. They say we've got some Hip-Hop for you and they play Rap music - like, what's this Mr. abuser of the 80's?

Falco's 3-D Style Mak: Puff Daddy.

Falco: A lot of people are so ignorant about Hip-Hop. You tell them - if they're so into Hip-Hop why don't they learn to B-boy and they're like "no, that's not for me man, I'm just laid back, I just listen to Rap". That's the motherfucker that doesn't get respect. I don't respect a lot of the people in Cape Town, because they know nothing. Sure, people had to tell me about the early 80's 'cos I wasn't there. But I didn't want to stay ignorant and ignorance is the mother of all fuckers! You're taking yourself for a gat basically, if you stay ignorant. You've got clubs like Angels in Cape Town and brothers from Guguletu, Kyelitsha come there. They live in shacks my broer, and they wear Mecca, South Pole jackets costing 2000 bucks!

MD: That's crazy.

Mak: And they wear shit like that.

Falco: They're like "Ja, we're from the Ghetto and shit". Ja, you from the ghetto but you fucking yourself up by spending your money on shit like that. That's what they want you to do. They want you to spend your last fucking money on clothes.

Mak: Hip-Hop was never about clothing anyway. The media came up with that. The videos of all that Puff Daddy shit where they dress up, drive smart cars, mack chains, diamond rings.

Falco: Hip-Hop is self-expression, not clothes. Clothes got nothing to do with it. A lot of rap music is not part of Hip-Hop anymore, it's a music industry. The real rappers are the people who are underground, who are still selling their demo tapes, their mix tapes. People coming to the jams, doing a set, and then selling their tape which you can't find in Musica or Top CD.

MD: OK, now on this underground concept - what do you think of someone like Krs-One who is into the philosophy, he talks about graffiti as part of Hip-Hop...

Falco: He used to be a writer.

MD: Exactly. At the same time he has had quite a bit of commercial success, so is he still Hip-Hop?

Falco: I give him a lot of respect. Commercial comes with the territory, but if you listen to a lot of his live tapes there is a lot of consciousness that goes along with it. Most of the songs that get played here aren't as conscious.

Mak laying down the initial strokes on a piece Mak: Out of all the guys who are well known now, I think he's probably one of the only MC's who hasn't sold out. If you look at all of his work, he's a true motherfucker.

Falco: Even in his rap lyrics he emphasises the Hip-Hop aspects and a lot of social and political issues. That's what keeps him real. And as long as Krs-One doesn't rap about champagne and lexus'..

Mak: ...and bitches and whatever...

Falco: 'Cos that's what it's about nowadays. It's just diamonds and Cristal. What the fuck? None of its yours, the record company is lending it to you for your video! There's a lot of shit out there that people don't know about. These are some of the rap groups that I respect - they've suffered and endured all the years now: Public Enemy, X-Clan, Paris, all the groups that's not on the radio. Look at Public Enemy, they got a new album out now after all this time and they are still saying the same shit - they didn't sell out. That's what deserves respect.

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