Mothipa and Instro are Konsider Kush, And It’s a Big Deal

South African emcee Mothipa talks new music, a new duo, where he’s been all this time and more.

Mothipa is one of the most respected lyricists in South African hip-hop. He was part of the then-emerging scene in the mid-2000s, alongside the likes of Optical Illusion, Mawe2, Last Days Fam and many other boom bap acolytes. His single, “Ode to Mary Jane” – a love song to weed – is an unquestionable classic, and so is his solid 2009 album, Cure For The Pain. The clarity of Mothipa’s delivery guarantees you never miss those clever punchlines he’s known for.

Even though he has appeared on a few songs (Optical Illusion’s “Watch What You Say” for instance), the rapper hasn’t released any of his music in a very long time; he last released a track, “Shit Don’t Matter,” four years ago.

About three weeks ago, however, he released four tracks as one half of Konsider Kush – a duo consisting of him and producer/deejay Instro, who’s also Motif Records’ in-house producer and has crafted hits for Reason, Tumi and released a compilation in 2008 called NASA, shorthand for Now and Still After (don’t sleep on it).

The music was recorded live at the Joburg Theatre. Lyrically it’s still the Mothipa heads know of, just sonically jazzy and experimental.

In the Q&A below, Mothipa tells us how Konsider Kush came about, what he’s been all this time, his thoughts on the current state of hip-hop in SA and more.

Please tell us how Konsider Kush came about.

Konsider Kush came about from my DJ/musical director Instro and I hanging and just making songs. Songs influenced by our frame of mind at the time on our views on the situation in our world and the country. That brought about a certain way of thinking and making music. Music that is uncensored honest and pure. What we wanted to listen to. What was initially a DJ-MC duo turned into Konsider Kush, a dynamic live hip-hop band.

Tell us about your live show. What’s the setup like?

The only constant in the band is the MC and DJ, with Instro also playing keys occasionally. The rest of band is made up of collaborations with different artists, so the set is never really exactly the same. We’ve collaborated with drummers, saxophonists and guitarists. We recently reached out to a double-bass player, and will be working with more artists in the future. The music is content-heavy, but at the same time very relatable. Dope raps over some African-inspired beats produced by a variety of producers.

What has Mothipa been up to all this time?

Living, taking in this thing we call life. Did a bit of travelling, a bit of studying and a bit of growing up.

How does being Mothipa in 2016 differ to being the Mothipa who dropped Cure For The Pain in 2009?

Generally I would say all the stuff I mentioned I’ve been doing all this time, growing and travelling, studying, maturing and understanding myself much more. That has shaped my outlook on how I approach the music this time around.

Technically I would say back then I had more lines about how dope I was than how I view the world, whereas now it’s the opposite; the braggadocio bars have made way for more reflective bars about my views as a black male living in post-apartheid South Africa.

Is Konsider Kush working on a full project?

Yes, we are, so the band is a live band in the most literal sense when it comes to recording the music. The music we put out will be live, recorded live at the venue, not in a booth. We have dropped a couple of the songs from particular project Konsider Kush Live Tape: Recorded Live At Joburg Theatre. We dropped the initial batch of songs during “Kush WeeK” from the 1st to the 5th of August

How would you compare releasing music in 2016 to the mid-2000s?

It’s a whole lot more free music going around now. Which I honestly don’t have a problem with, and there is a whole lot more going into the live shows, which is one of the main reasons we started Konsider Kush. And the online presence that has been a game-changer on how one releases music. We might not be on all the social media platforms, but we are on ones that make strategic sense to us for the moment.

On one of your songs you say that you are all about music with content (“If it isn’t rich in content, you can miss me”). What do you think of the current state of SA hip-hop?

Well I guess one of the most obvious ones is that there is a lot more money in it now; the corporates have already started taking full advantage.

But there is an energy about the South African hip-hop scene that is undeniable at the moment. From cats turning down international deals, to being on Sway in the Morning. The culture is definitely growing.

What new school cats are you currently feeling?

There way too many to mention, first two that come to mind are Chro, Ginger and DarkListed. Skilled writers.

In your opinion, what happened to rap?

I don’t know really. Hip-hop is too subjective for me to give an answer to that.

Sabelo Mkhabela is a writer from Swaziland, currently based in Cape Town. He also drops award-winning tweets as @SabzaMK.


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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