Dee Koala South African Hip-Hop
Dee Koala. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Dee Koala Is at the Forefront of Cape Town Hip-Hop's Current Crop of Rappers

Dee Koala's joyful raps tell her story in full on her debut album, 4 the Khaltsha.

Dee Koala gives a snapshot of her character in her recently-released debut album 4 the Khaltsha. In the project's 14 songs, the young rapper takes her listener to the streets of Cape Town's biggest township Khayelitsha (also known as Kaltsha), where she hails from.

Dee Koala shares anecdotes of her life—she raps about her love for beer on "Sel'iwash Yodwa," sex on "Nkqo Nkqo" (which fittingly features Moonchild Sanelly) and gender-based violence on album standout "Goni Gyel."

Her lively delivery, catchy hooks and catchphrases make 4 The Khaltsha an engaging listen that never sends the listener to sleep. A song like "Ungenaphi" will likely play in your head the next time someone sticks their nose in your business.

The rapper's character carries all the songs on the project, and peaks on the song "Msoon'wakho" in which she uses a regular but still corrosive expletive to remind you that she's better than you. The hook is another one that will stick to your head and you'll playback when you are feeling overly confident.

Dee Koala's delivery is conversational and won't alienate listeners who may not fully understand IsiXhosa. For instance, on "Goni Gyel," she addresses a serious issue but manages to maintain the customary catchiness her music is known for. In the song, she advises women to arm themselves with knives to stab potential rapists.

Simplicity is Dee Koala's strongest trait as a rapper. Rapping in a combination of IsiXhosa and ringas (slang), she makes sure her music maintains the essence of the streets of Cape Town. Authentic and effective stories are usually told in the lexicon of their characters and narrators, and 4 the Khaltsha is a great example.

Dee Koala - Friday Freestyle (Official Music Video)

In between previously released singles, which make up almost half of the album, Dee Koala shares aspects of her life through descriptive vignettes that are nested between bouts of feistiness and vigor portraying a strong personality and a talented rapper.

She clams down towards the end of the project on songs like "Ndanele" and "Thando" which both display focused writing and a side of Dee Koala she never showed in her multiple singles which weren't carried by subject matter but mood.

On "Thando," she tells the story of a misguided young woman whose daddy issues lead to promiscuous behavior, eventually leading to undesirable consequences. The song carries on the tradition of social consciousness that the new generation of Cape Town rappers still weave into their formula, even though their music doesn't shy away from shameless self-indulgence.

Dee Koala is at the forefront of Cape Town hip-hop's current crop of rappers. Her style comes from a lineage of Cape Town rappers from spaza veterans such as Driemanskap, Kanyi Mavi, Ndlulamthi and newer rappers like Amilca and BoolZ, among many others, some of which appear on the album such as SimulatinRxps and Aizol.

Dee Koala is one of the very few Cape Town hip-hop artists who have national audiences. She's gotten cosigns from the likes of Riky Rick and Yanga Chief, the latter featured her in his latest EP, Becoming a Pop Star, on the remix to his single "Utatakho." Dee Koala performs regularly in Joburg and always comes up in national hip-hop conversations, which is a rarity for Cape Town hip-hop artists.

So, it was only right that she released a full body of work to showcase what she can do and tell her story in full. 4 the Khatsha serves the purpose of depicting its maker's character and abilities.

Just like its artwork, the album is a collage of different scenarios and stories that each give you a glimpse of Dee Koala's life and headspace. Just like most of us, she's shaped by her surroundings, hence the project is not just the story of one person, but the place she comes from too. Which explains the title.

Listen to 4 The Khaltsha below and revisit our interview with Dee Koala here.