MFE Pays Tribute to PRO on The Second Anniversary of The South African Hip-Hop Legend’s Passing

Artists signed to PRO's label MFE commemorate him in new tribute song 'MAWE: VITA24' on the second anniversary of the South African hip-hop pioneer's passing.

One aspect of PRO(Kid)'s legacy that rarely gets mentioned is his label. As head of Money First Entertainment, the label he founded, PRO played roles in the trajectories and craft of artists such as Red Button, Captian_fs, sFs 5 Star and TeePee among others. The former three were official members of MFE with Red Button, PRO's protégé, being the first artist to be signed to the label.

PRO who passed away exactly two years ago today gets a tribute from his label's roster. "MAWE: VITA24" is a remix of an sFs 5 Star song titled "Mawe" that the artist released in February.

"The song was not about Linda," says sFs 5 Star in an interview with OkayAfrica two weeks ago. "But it was about ancestral powers to help me through my life. But when I did the second verse when I mentioned him and went back to the chorus, I was like this sounds like I'm talking about him."

After realising the second anniversary of PRO's passing was approaching, the crew agreed on working on a remix that would be a tribute to their former frontman.

Read: Kasi Rap Meets Trap in Red Button's New EP 'Dark Knights'

Until today, sFs 5 Star was the only artist who hadn't released a tribute song to PRO. Red Button paid respect to PRO in the song "Mlindoms (P.R.O)" from his 2018 EP Dark Knights, Captain's "Meloding" from his debut album The Ape Tape came with an unheard PRO verse. According to the talented emcee from the Free State province, PRO contributed in shaping the sound and direction of The Ape, a project that was years in the making.

Red Button, sFs 5 Star, TeePee and Captain_fs. Image courtesy of artists.

The tribute expands beyond the song, however, as in the last two weeks, the MFE crew has been releasing a series of interviews in which each member shares highlighting who PRO was a person, what his art meant to them, how they started working with him and what that experience was like.

The rest of the country joined in and paid respect to PRO on the second eve of his death. PRO passed away on the 8th of August in 2018.

PRO is regarded by a majority of South African hip-hop fans as the greatest of all time in the country. MTV Based gave him the number 1 spot on their once-off list of the Greatest South African MCs of All Time.

Stream "MAWE: VITA24" on SoundCloud and check our a list of the best PRO songs ranked by SPeeka here.



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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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