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Cassper Nyovest. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Op-Ed: Cassper Nyovest Says His Latest Album Is a Game Changer (It’s Not and Here's Why)

Sweet and Short is a great moment for South African hip-hop, but Cassper Nyovest is far from breaking any new ground sonically or culturally.

Sweet and Short, Cassper Nyovest's fourth album in as many years, sees the South African hip-hop superstar facing an existential crisis of sorts. He dubs his album a game changer, one that's revolutionizing South African hip-hop. Whether he does so or not is part of a larger question around his music, as an artist perpetually in between genres.

Whatever our evaluation of his musical output or the extent to which we measure his impact, what Sweet and Short highlights is how imperative music descriptors have become in Cassper's quest to stand out. This ironically devalues the very descriptors he employs in his attempt to do so. The problematizing that Cassper Nyovest (unintentionally) represents is not a new circumstance for two genres with a long love-hate relationship.


On "Welcome Welcome," the album's intro, Nyovest makes the claim that he's "rapping over kwaito beats." Such a simple yet jarring statement has been repeated in numerous tweets; leaving more questions than answers.

One main question is the confluence of these two proud genres. What were kwaito artists doing over kwaito beats? It seems plausible to state that they were rapping on beats that moulded faster house music into more manageable BPMs to suit the somewhat repetitive style of the genre. It's a difficult conundrum to resolve, inspiring a probe of where kwaito ends and where hip-hop begins. More importantly, determining whether the split between hip-hop and kwaito is the vocal technique or just differing instrumentation is essential. They are distinct genres, but share far more traits than the Maftown rapper lets on.

At the heart of Cassper's claim lies the failed distinction between "rap" as a verb and "rap" as a noun. In as far as performing the activity itself, South African artists of distinct genres have all proven to be adept at it: Sjava, Sho Madjozi, Busiswa and the late R Mashesa (of the Durban kwaito group Big Nuz) have all rapped over the years. And they've rapped as well as their hip-hop peers, too. It would seem blasphemous if they ever claimed to be "pushing hip-hop forward" by employing a singular technique housed under one of its four tenants.

Cassper Nyovest poses with a fan during the Sweet and Short listening session. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Pushing anything forward requires impact on a holistic level and most importantly, a sense of originality. And speaking of originality: Moozlie, Kwesta, Kid X, K.O, Major League and The Fraternity have all incorporated kwaito into their music before Sweet and Short's arrival. So even among his own hip-hop peers, Cassper Nyovest is far from breaking any new ground sonically or culturally.

Perhaps this is where the crisis occurs for Sweet And Short as an album. It's one, which, despite being billed as another iteration of kwaito, dabbles in amapiano, dancehall, Afropop and maskandi. Although Cassper Nyovest's music is a great departure point for discussing the evolution of genre in a South African context, it also highlights the arbitrary nature of the distinctions we've come to make between these sounds. Laying claim to transforming an entire genre is thus a form of either sly marketing or myth-making.

Sponono Sam - Cassper Nyovest Ft Shwi Nomtekhala www.youtube.com

In recent years, we've seen the descendants of kwaito attempt to relaunch the sound under different guises. Between new age kwaito, skhanda rap and Durban kwaito, we've seen just how influential the genre remains. Incorporating its sounds is proof of its lasting impact and should be considered homage rather than innovation.

So while Sweet and Short is a great moment for South African hip-hop in that it will at the very least encourage discussion around rappers laying claim to kwaito, it's not groundbreaking in any sense. Seeing that the purest kwaito tracks on the album are rehashes of the original songs they reference—"Gets Getsa," "Who Got The Block Hot," "Ayoba" and "Skeptedata"—it begs the question of where the line between paying respect and actually innovating occurs. The answer to that is far from sweet and short, but definitely confirms that any revolution in South African music will not be backward looking.

Download Sweet and Short here.


Style

OkayAfrica and B4Bonah Share New 'B4Beginning' Capsule Collection

We've teamed up with the Ghanaian artist ahead of the release of his debut project for some colorful new merch.

Rising Ghanaian star B4Bonah, premieres his catchy debut track "See Body," and to mark the song's release, OkayAfrica has teamed up with the artist to share a new collection of tees, that'll fit nicely into your summer wardrobe.

The artist's latest track is a party jam, that sees him flowing "over an earworm flute melody and afrobeats percussion," using "his rasping flow to celebrate the girl of his dreams." The track was produced by J.Rocs.

B4Bonah - See Body www.youtube.com

In conjunction with the song's release, two new shirt designs are available for preorder at our Okayshop. The vibrant shirts feature the artist's image on colorful blue and green colored blocks, with the words "B4BONAH B4BEGINNING," on the back—referencing the artist's debut mixtape, which is slated for release in late July. The project features Medikal, Mugeez (R2Bees), Amaarae & Ivy Sole.


B4Bonah is an artist to watch, as he continues to make his presence known in the Ghanaian music scene.

Watch the music video for "See Body" above, and head to shop.okayplayer.com now to pick up to pre-order a shirt (or two). You can also preorder B4Bonah's B4beginning mixtape here.

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Watch EL, Joey B and Falz' New Video for 'Ehua'

Ghana meets Nigeria in this hilarious new clip.

Ghanaian rappers EL and Joey B connect with Nigeria's Falz for this addictive new collaboration and music video for "Ehua."

"Ehua" is built on energetic afro-electronic beat work produced by EL himself. Joey B handles the hook while Falz kicks things off early with a solid verse.

The eye-catching and hilarious music video for the single, directed by Yaw Skyface, features EL as a policeman, Falz as the 'oga' bossman, and Joey B as a worker for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Falz takes Joey B's woman by showing off his money and status, so Joey B enlists policeman EL to get back at Falz. The plan backfires however as the officer decides to stick around and party with the rich instead of helping the everyday worker out.

For more GH hits check out our Best Ghanaian Songs of the Month roundups and follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Watch the new music video for EL, Joey B and Falz' "Ehua" below.

EL ft Joey B & Falz - Ehua (Official Video) youtu.be


News Brief
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Nigeria's Super Falcons Were Forced To Threaten a Sit-In Protest Over Unpaid Bonuses After Women's World Cup

After negotiations, the Nigerian Football Federation have agreed to run the players their money.

Nigeria's own Super Falcons had a great run during the Women's World Cup. But instead of the players heading back home or to their respective professional clubs after losing to Germany 3-0, they were forced to strong-arm the Nigerian Football Federation to pay what they're owed.

According to ESPN's initial report over the weekend, the Super Falcons threatened to stage a sit-in protest at their hotel in France until all of their unpaid bonuses dating back to two years ago were paid, along with their World Cup allowances and bonuses.

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