Back To Interviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush
Mass Dosage: Looking at Hip Hop within the South African racial context... in the States it's often - 'is it a black thing or a white thing?' Here you could even say 'is it a black thing, a white thing or a coloured thing?' A lot of the people really holding it down, doing graffiti, break-dancing, not just performing music, are coloured. How have you seen that over here?

Absolut: Yeah, that's really interesting. Hip Hop historically has always been within communities which have been disenfranchised within structures where the majority of the power is in white hands. When you look at Hip Hop, you see it as an outlet of expression for not only blacks, but Latinos, Asians and so on. So I don't find it necessarily strange that a lot of Hip-Hop happens within a coloured community. What I do find strange, though, is that when I was in Cape Town, I didn't see much of the coloured and black communities, Hip Hop-wise, building together. Maybe I was just at the wrong places at the wrong times, but it seemed as if there was a large separation between the coloured community and the black community in terms of Hip Hop. I find the whole issue of coloured and black very sad - so much more could be done if people were able to unify amongst all backgrounds.

Mass Dosage: When you look around at the places you've DJ'ed at, are the crowds at a certain gig mainly one colour? I know I've seen you at 206 where the majority of people are white, while at a party like House vs. Kwaito most of the people were black...


Absolut: Yeah, that is true. I think it has a lot to do with the image of a club or party. I don't know too many black folk here who are into drum n' bass or jungle and so they wouldn't really go to 206. It's been interesting to see the crowd at 206 in particular because I've found that there actually are a lot of white kids out here who are into Hip Hop. A lot of white kids now are getting into Hip Hop because of the fact that there are now groups or artists that are now more well known, like Eminem, so it's like, 'oh, I can relate to that'. But then again, there are a lot of white kids who come up to me asking for stuff I've hardly heard of from years ago. So, there are people who are a part of it, who do know the culture, but I think there are racial factors which are involved where a lot of white kids don't feel comfortable being in those surroundings, because they feel they might not be accepted.

Mass Dosage: I know racial issues can affect one's DJing - I've often DJed at venues where I've been one of very few white people (and the only white DJ) there. I'd step onto the stage in front of all these black people, and it was like, "this white boy's gonna play music for us?" I'd feel very uncomfortable until a few songs into my set and then everyone's like, 'alright, he knows what he's doing'. Have you ever had that feeling as a black DJ in front of a white crowd where you don't feel accepted?

Absolut: Not really, actually I've felt more uncomfortable with some of the black crowds than white crowds. It's not because of the racial issues, it has more to do with the black crowd being into kwaito,house and R&B as opposed to Hip-Hop. They don't seem to be as open as say, the crowd at 206, to music other than what they are used to.

Mass Dosage: Which brings me onto something which really pisses me off as a DJ - kwaito 'music'. I could go on for hours, but what are your honest opinions on it?

Absolut: I understand the cultural significance of kwaito and what it represents, so there I can't have a bias against it, but as a music form I think a lot of it needs work. There are some good groups out there, like Skeem, Bongo Maffin, Boom Shaka and so on. But there are a lot of groups that aren't pushing any limits. I understand that if there's a phrase that's constantly repeated, and it has some significance to it, then fine, but for me, lyrically, if I hear someone saying 'Ola', like, twenty times and that makes their song, then there's no difference between you being a kwaito artist and me being a kwaito artist, saying the same thing, because there's no skill involved.

Mass Dosage: OK. I've got a theory related to this. In Hip Hop the lyrics are such an important part of the music, and as a cultural form it can be used to uplift communities, give them a voice, and so on. What I've got against a lot of commercial Hip Hop music is that this is lacking from it. And that's exactly what kwaito is, it doesn't have much social commentary in it, and I see it in a way as taking listeners away from music they should be listening to. It's making people think about nothing but partying and bullshit, as opposed to thinking about who they are, and the situations surrounding them. I don't know if you agree with that?

Absolut: I think you can have party and bullshit, and at the same time have the politics and the voice - its just a matter of the balance. I like the more political groups like Dead Prez, Black Star and so on. They have a message that's saying something, but at the same time I also like someone like a Jay-Z, or a Puffy, because that gives me an alternative. Not everything has to be so hardcore political, sometimes I just want to ease off and dance. But that balance isn't always there - where your Puffy's and your Mase's are getting so much more play than your Black Stars' and your Dead Prez'. You could say the same of kwaito, for example Boom Shaka's song 'Don't Be Ashamed" has some significance to it, saying don't be ashamed of your mother, your brother or yourself, be proud of who you are. But then you have other songs which are just party and bullshit. So, the problem is that there's more party and bullshit than the other stuff. Music is such a great tool for power and upliftment, it can be an influence especially if you're hearing it over and over again, those messages then become a part of your psyche. I could say 'black black black power power power' over and over again and people are gonna understand it, and think it. I could even say 'money cash hoes bitches' and they're gonna understand that, especially young kids, because they're so impressionable. Again it comes to that balance because in order to understand the political you have to see the other side.