Cape Town Rapper CApitol A's Self-Produced Debut EP 'OutcAst'

Cape Town/Gugulethu-based rapper CApitol A releases his 8-track solo EP O'utcAst.'

Twenty-four-year-old South African rapper/producer cApitol A delivers an outsider’s anthem with his first, mostly self-produced solo EP outcAst. The Cape Town/Gugulethu-based artist, who's also a member of SA hip-hop collective KYD Underground and previously featured on rap duo Hype Team’s Ill Regime mixtape (which he produced half of), avows his own dreams while championing perseverance over dirty drums and elegant strings. The album is hardly disingenuous or corny, though, it’s a painful yet hopeful yell for will.

On the downtrodden but encouraging “Good Morning,” cApitol A conveys scenes of mundane work and horrifying poverty while celebrating the merciful nature of music. The musician, who initially became drawn to beatmaking at sixteen and began writing lyrics afterwards, even gets straight harsh on “3rd Eye Opener ft. Grizzly Bear,” a piano-floored track that has him damning the greedy and scorning the oblivious. Almost a capsule of the whole record and probably outcAst’s standout track, “I Gotta Dream” channels suffering into a wish for contentment, cApital A’s yearning for freedom blending with soaring string arrangements.

Speaking in an e-mail about the EP, which also features production from cApitol A’s older brother U.N.A, he tells Okayafrica, “I always wanted to make music that people could relate to and I had all these different opinions about the world at large, I didn't just want to make songs, I wanted to make songs that had a meaningful message.” Listen to cApitol A’s 8-track outcAst EP below.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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