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Ginger Trill. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Cassper Nyovest is The Jay-Z of South Africa, According to Ginger Trill

"He knows how to play the game."

The rapper Ginger Trill is one of the most potent lyricists in South Africa. He's your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. He recently won the Verse of the Year award for his song "Nobody (Interlude)" at the Slikour On Life Verse of the Year Awards, which took place in February.

Ginger is a guest on the latest episode of The Sobering, South Africa's most prominent hip-hop podcast. While discussing his plan to blow up, Ginger revealed how much he admires Cassper Nyovest's strategies (who doesn't?).

"Cassper is good at playing the game," Ginger says, "He's just, like, a Jay-Z."

He elaborates that Nyovest knows how to balance making catchy hooks and spitting potent verses at times:

"I think he's good at playing the game. He comes on somebody's song and ass' em out."

This is the same strategy that has contributed to Jay-Z's seemingly omnipotent relevance in hip-hop. The man said it himself on "Moment of Clarity," "I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars."

Asked why he wasn't playing the game, Ginger says the only thing he knows how to do best is to just rap. "I play the game, I drop my tapes, I drop my singles," he says.

"I am hustling, maybe I'm not as good as they are. Maybe my thing is being good as a lyricist."

During the episode, the rapper reveals himself as a student of the game, admitting he can rap word-for-word to Optical Illusion songs, and makes reference to other rappers. He also shares his South African hip-hop top 5 lyricists.

Listen to the full episode below, and listen to Ginger Trill's latest single "Money," underneath or download it here.

Subscribe to The Sobering on iTunes.


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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