Cassper Nyovest. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Cassper Nyovest Just Signed With Universal & Announced The Title of His Upcoming Album

The rapper who has had a flourishing career as an independent artist finally signed with a major.

South African hip-hop superstar Cassper Nyovest's label Family Tree signed a partnership deal with Universal Music Group today, as reported by multiple publications. The deal will see UMG assist Nyovest with the release and distribution of his upcoming album.

"It shows what I have built has value," the artist was quoted as saying by IOL about the signing.

"I sat with one of my business mentors – this billionaire dude – and initially, I wanted him to invest into my company and he said the whole thing of owning 100% of a company sounds like a great idea, but sometimes you have to build it till it's worth something and then sell a bit of it. So how I looked at it is I have built Family Tree, and for me to grow, I have to share a percentage of it."

He added that artist signed under Family Tree (Nadia Nakai and Tshego) weren't obliged to sign to UMG. "Everybody was given an option," says Abuti Fill Up. "Tshego opted not to come with me in this venture because he wants to do his own thing," said the MC. "I don't want to speak on Nadia yet, because she will announce but to be clear: the deal is Family Tree, so I will still be able to release other artists through this deal."

The rapper also announced that the title of his upcoming album will be Sweet & Short. The album will drop on the same day as Cass' Fill Up Moses Mabhida Stadium show on the 1st of December. Nyovest is releasing a new single this Friday.

Sweet & Short will be highly influenced by kwaito, which has been evident since the last two singles the rapper has released in the past few months; "Gets Getsa 2.0" and "Hase Mo States."

The cover of Cassper Nyovest's upcoming album.

Nyovest has had a flourishing career as an independent artist. His first three studio albums Tsholofelo, Refiloe and Thuto all sold at least platinum, and boasted features from the likes of Burna Boy, Black Thought, Talib Kweli, The Game, among other superstars. He was also the first rapper to fill up the Ticket Pro Dome, and broke records with his Fill Up Orlando Stadium and Fill Up FNB Stadium concerts.

The artists has been vocal about the disadvantages of being independent such as not getting enough radio airplay and not topping charts as much as artists who are signed to major labels.

Cassper Nyovest - Gets Getsa 2.0 (Official Music Video)

He once tweeted, "I'm not signed to Sony. I'll never have a number 1 single in my career unless I share the cake with a major label. They run the charts, from iTunes to radio. They have all the data, the manpower, [and] the connections. Maybe it's time I did. The next step definitely needs muscle."

Clearly, independence in South African hip-hop is seriously tough. Nyovest was the torchbearer, but now that he's also signed to a major, it's looking bleak. AKA released his latest album Touch My Blood independently, but when his company BEAM Group got shut down, he quickly went back to Vth Season, the label that released his previous two albums.

Read: How Cassper Nyovest Became The Biggest South African Hip-Hop Artist


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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