nasty c

Nasty C.

Images courtesy of the artist.

Interview: Nasty C Is Speaking His Truth

We talk to the South African superstar about his fourth album, I Love It Here, championing mental health, and fatherhood.

At age 17, Nasty C was a superstar.

Fresh off the release of two mixtapes and an EP, the young South African (real name David Junior Ngcobo) had become a continental sensation through his fresh spurt of lyricism and creativity.

While he first broke out with the lead single, “Juice Back,” off his second mixtape Price City, it was Nasty C’s “Hell Naw” that proved to be stamp he needed to become a permanent fixture within the African hip-hop scene. “I'm just trying to push the movement for the next version of me that comes up, I need that guy to have it easier than I had it. You know what I mean?” he mentions over a Zoom call just before he takes the stage at one of the tour stops of his collaborative African Throne Tour with trailblazing South African rapper, Cassper Nyovest.

In his fourth album, I Love It Here, Nasty C allows an outpouring of unfiltered emotion. He has signed major label deals, collaborated with rap’s biggest stars, and performed across the world, but with his latest effort, the rapper offers listeners a peek into the life of a superstar becoming a father and dealing with his inherited trauma.

We caught up with the Johannesburg-born star to discuss his fourth album, mental health, fatherhood and going on tour with Cassper Nyovest.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

It seems that you're in a new place with regards to mental awareness. Talk me through that process of realizing where you are now and the kind of music you want to make.

Yeah. That's correct. This one captures my mental awareness and where I am right now in my life as a new father, as a person who's just gone through so much, throughout my whole childhood, but specially in the last two or three years. And just the kind of places that I've been to mentally and emotionally, and how I was able to pull myself out of that by just remembering who I am and what I like, what I don't like, and being very honest with myself.

Nasty CNasty C.

Was this album actually a purging of some sort for yourself?

Yeah, it kinda did feel like that. It's like a diary. I was really just speaking about things that have been on my mind for a very long time, and just like being happy with my truth and not worrying too much about what people might hate. Does it make me look or come across as this guy who's now older or out of touch? I didn't really care about any of that stuff. I was just like, "this is me right now, this is where I'm at."

When did you start making this album?

The oldest song on the album is about three years old, maybe a little less than that. But I really started locking in probably about two years ago.

At what point did you realize that the album was complete?

That point didn't come, I'm not gonna lie to you. I got to a place where I was very comfortable with the music that's in the album. But I'm never like, "okay, this is it! It is done completely." It's like, I just run out of time. There's no more time. We have to end it. You got to turn it in.

Nasty C - Endless

What inspired the album and its title, I Love It Here?

I was in LA recording and I knew I wanted to work on an album. I knew I was working on an album, but I didn't know what the album was, what I wanted it to be. I was trying to pull myself out this really dark place I was at, where at the time, it didn't even seem dark, it seemed like a very logical thing to me. I just felt like life was pointless and none of this stuff mattered and it's all just a weird little stupid loop where it is, do this, put it out, make money, tour, shoot a video and then the cycle just continues. I was sick of it and the music that was circulating a lot and that I was listening to wasn't moving me.

It didn’t really capture where you were.

Yeah, it just felt like life was pointless, to say it in a very simple way. So, when I finally managed to pull myself out of that, through speaking to people, a couple quotes from books, a couple videos on YouTube. I started to slowly get back to a very healthy place mentally. And that's when I decided to identify the things that make me happy. That's how I ended up with the whole I Love It Here vibe. Because when you identify those things and you keep those things with you, no matter where you are, you will love it there. I love it here means a lot of different things, but it also just means I love it here like on earth, being alive.

Across the album, family is a huge theme. How has fatherhood changed you?

It definitely has changed me. It changed me even before my kid got here like the things that I was doing just to prepare for him and preparing to be a father, it's changed me a lot. It made me just want to be a nicer person, just be a lot more patient also with myself, with other people, with the process. It gave a lot of purpose to my life and my career.

Nasty C - Kill The Noise (Audio) ft. Anica, Maglera Doe Boy

What's exciting to you about music these days?

That's a very good question, man. I think for me, being able to make songs that people would never expect me to make and have them connect and translate exactly how I want them to. Making songs like "Kill the Noise" for me give me more joy than making any other typical party song or happy song. Being able to make a song that is like, "you should not be making this song, you're a rapper, how are you making this type of music?" Making that type of music where you're pouring your heart out and painting a picture in different ways, being very vivid with your lyrics, that kind of stuff gives me a lot of joy and obviously performing it.

Who are some underground artists that you think people should really check out right now?

From South Africa, there's a guy called Case Closed who is sick. That guy is extremely talented. I think he's got a lot of potential. There is this girl called Anica from K-Town who's also just insane. She's got crazy vocals. She's actually on the album on a song called "Kill The Noise." A lot of the guys I'm thinking of right now are already starting to get a buzz, so I don't know if it's worth mentioning, but there's a girl called Mo$hpit Cindy who is on the come up, she has a crazy style because she's a vocalist but her beats are like so hard, like mosh pit beats.

Tell me about the African Throne Tour with Cassper Nyovest and what made you want to do it?

My team and I were just playing around with different ideas about touring Africa, and then my manager was talking to Cassper's manager, they also had a similar idea. So we were like, let’s do it together, and it was a no brainer after that. I think it's important, especially in South African hip-hop, because a lot of the hip-hop guys are still scared to go out there and own their shit, just because Amapiano is taking over.

Obviously, hip-hop took the backseat for quite some time. I think we're all just overthinking our releases, we're overthinking our ideas. So, I think for Cassper and I to lead by example like this, is really dope and important because you know anyone who has ever wanted to do anything now feels like I can do it here at home.