Back To Interviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush

Mass Dosage: That makes me think of something that is sort-of related to this - a lot of American artists, especially in the Afrocentric phase were talking about the "Motherland, Africa". From a South African perspective I look at this, and I've been dying for years to see live Hip Hop where some of these groups come out here. They'll talk about the Motherland on record, but never actually come here. What's up with that? To me it seems very hypocritical.

Absolut: It is. You have those groups who preach an ideology, and some of them, like X-Clan have the Black Watch Movement and they did a lot of community service work in New York, particularly in Brooklyn. You had Public Enemy, with their ties to the Nation of Islam, Poor Righteous Teachers who are Five Percent-ers, and they all work to try to teach and uplift people. But at the same time I can say for each one of those groups, a lot of them had and still do have a very fantasised idea of Africa. A lot of them use the word "African" in a very open way without understanding that within African there is Swahili, Zulu and so on. My problem with a lot of that is that people didn't really understand and respect that, even to the point where they don't want to come here themselves.

Mass Dosage: At the same time for our own Hip Hop scene, you can see how it is struggling. I've talked to a lot of people down in Cape Town about how to make things better, and they often hold workshops to educate people about all aspects of Hip-Hop culture. A big fantasy of ours is to have someone like KRS-One or Jeru come out here and hold some workshops. That could do so much for the scene here, more than all their lip service can ever do.

A different kind of wired world

Absolut: The thing with Americans, regardless of colour, is that a lot of them are American-centric. Not necessarily believing in the government and so on, but rather being very centred on American culture. A lot of American folk ain't really worried about the rest of the world. Someone like KRS-One could definitely provide something in in South Africa, but at the same time I think its more about people providing for themselves than having some American artist come over and do it for them. To have them come over and do that, almost puts them to the point to say that "you are better than us and we have to learn from you in order to be at our best", whereas Hip Hop is a form where you express what is you, where you are. You can see this in American Hip Hop, where East Coast rappers talk about the East Coast, rappers in the South talk about the South etc. So Hip Hop is a culture which has a greater context, but at the same time if you are a part of it, you talk about your context in particular. So, it's important for South Africa to have a South African reality of Hip Hop and not to be based on American Hip Hop.

Mass Dosage: I've spoken to some American DJ's and found them to be very Egocentric - going on about how Americans created Hip-Hop and therefore no-one else can do it. They refused point blank to listen to Hip-Hop music that came from anywhere else and I couldn't believe it, because to me Hip-Hop has become a global culture. As this world is becoming more connected into some form of "global village" or whatever, how do you see Hip Hop as a global phenomenon fitting in?

Absolut: On a global perspective, Hip Hop must be respected always as a culture which comes from an Afro-based history. I think Hip Hop can be a means of bringing people together in terms of race and for people to understand each other, but before that understanding comes, there has to be respect. Globally there needs to be a genuine respect for one another - to say, "OK, you are this, I am that, but we can come together on this common ground".

Mass Dosage: OK, let's end this on a lighter topic... what do you think of Hip-Hop on the radio in South Africa? I know when I was younger there was no Hip-Hop on air, and my own radio show initially had a very small following, but things have changed a lot since then.

Absolut: What I think South Africa needs, in terms of radio in particular, is a Hip Hop mix show. Every weekend on YFM, you have about four or five hours of straight house. Whereas with the Rap Activity Jam, that's about the rappers, which is cool, but there's nothing else outside of that which really pushes the music as music itself. I don't see that here and think that's very bad. YFM could go with a show like that, because there's a such a large Hip Hop following that's not necessarily being catered to outside of the Rap Activity Jam and those parts of the day where there is strictly Hip Hop music for a few songs. One thing I do like about South African radio is that there's a lack of censorship on radio, whereas in the States if you even come close to cursing, the FCC's on your back.


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