Ebro Explores 3 South African Hip-Hop Artists—Sjava, Shane Eagle and YoungstaCPT—in New Mini-Documentary ‘Rap Life: Ebro in South Africa’

Ebro chats to Sjava, Shane Eagle and YoungstaCPT in 'Rap Life: Ebro in South Africa.'

Ebro Darden was in South Africa towards the end of 2019, and he interviewed several South African hip-hop artists Sjava, Shane Eagle and YoungstaCPT about their music, lives and race relations in South Africa. The singer Amanda Black appears towards the end of the 9-minute film and talks about owning her African identity.


Ebro, who's currently Apple Music's global editorial head of hip hop and R&B, takes a tour with the artists into their worlds. Sjava's interview takes place at Kwa Mai Mai Food Market, a braai spot in the heart of Johannesburg, where a lot of Zulu people hang around, eat and jam to maskandi music.

"You still have your own family, but the people who will look out for you and support you most of the time – it's guys that you'll find on the street. I'm where I am because of them,"says Sjava, commenting on his love for everyday people, which is reflected in his music and how he handles himself as a person.

Ebro has a special interest in South Africa's division of races, which is still in place today. "Coloured guys adopted hip-hop first in South Africa," YoungstaCPT tells Ebro. "Because of groups like Afrika Bambaataa, Public Enemy and N.W.A those messages were filtering through to us down here, because the experiences were so similar - with the army and the government and riots. So, the music was adopted very early here."

Reflecting on his time, Ebro said: "I was blown away by my experience in South Africa. As it continues to define its future as a nation, Hip-Hop music which is being released from every community and cultural group in South Africa is helping shape this future. For me it was enlightening to be able to learn more about today's hottest South African Hip-Hop artists and where they have come from. I'm excited to help tell their stories and those of other great artists from across the continent to the world."

Watch the full Rap Life: Ebro in South Africa documentary below:

‎Rap Life: Ebro in South Africa on Apple Music itunes.apple.com

Click here for our coverage of South African hip-hop.

Music

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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