Interview

ASAP Shembe Is Channeling the South African Genres He Grew Up On to Tell His Own Story

ASAP Shembe shares his spiritual take on music.

This profile is part of OkayAfrica's ongoing series, THE WAV 2019, following the young artists shaping the future of the South Africa's music scene. You can read more profiles and interviews here.

ASAP Shembe's name has nothing to do with A$AP Mobb. The "ASAP" is an acronym for "Aba Sindisiwe Aba Pheli", which means "those that have been saved will never perish." "Cue the message," says ASAP Shembe after giving the breakdown. "And the message is "what you leave in the world," and the mechanism that I'm using to relay my message is music, and it's really just like a constant reminder, mfethu, ukuthi you are your own savior in this chaotic world. You need to find your truth with, and I found my truth through this name."

ASAP Shembe's lyrical content is just as loaded. While he doesn't consider himself a rapper, his hip-hop roots run deep. "I do take elements of rap into my music," he says. "But I don't consider myself a rapper, because I do so much more than just rapping."

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J Molley Is Leading the South African New Wave

J Molley is at the forefront of the new crop of South African artists.

This profile is part of OkayAfrica's ongoing series, THE WAV 2019, following the young artists shaping the future of the South Africa's music scene. You can read more profiles and interviews here.

J Molley summarized his journey to Grandmaster Ready D earlier this year in an interview on the South African hip-hop legend's show on Goodhope FM. "I started about three years ago, just dropping music on SoundCloud, and then it just took off quite rapidly after that. And I've just been doing it since then. I just realized it could work for me, and I started making good money off of it, and yeah, here I am."

Ready D's story, as a member of one of the first SA hip-hop crews (Prophets of da City), is the opposite of J Molley's. When Prophets of da City were releasing songs that the apartheid government banned on radio and TV in the late '80s and early '90s, there was no internet to broadcast their music directly to their listeners. They needed radio for that, and TV for their music videos. It was tough.

J Molley, who's only 18 years old and already a notable name in SA hip-hop, didn't have to wait for radio and TV to play his music or a distributor to press his songs on vinyl, cassette or CD (what are those?). Starting out as a photographer, J Molley amassed a following on Instagram that rode with him when he became a singer. "I had a bit of fame before I started doing music," J Molley says, seated on a couch at the OkayAfrica offices in Joburg. "So, I knew that I had a fan base, which is what helped me. If I didn't have that, I don't think it would've worked, really. So, I knew I was going to get a little bit of fame for it, but I didn't think it was going to be so quick 'cause I dropped the first song and I got, like, 10,000 plays in a month, which is crazy for me."

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