Every single line in Stogie T's guest verse on A-Reece's new mixtape has a double meaning to it, and a majority of the lines refer to specific scenes in the film 'No Country For Old Men' while advancing the veteran emcee's story. Sekese Rasephei decodes the verse line by line.
Taken off A-Reece's recently released mixtape, Today's Tragedy, Tomorrow's Memory, "BRAVO" is the first collaboration between two lyricists who not only represent two generations of South African hip-hop but are also currently performing at their highest level, respectively.
A watershed moment
Stogie T has a penchant for collaborations. In his long career, he has been known to collaborate with a plethora of emcees and singers from all walks of life, from Boity to Zakwe, YoungstaCPT, Yanga Chief, Emtee and Benny The Butcher among others.
A-Reece on the other hand is a rather elusive and reclusive character who seemingly enjoys being shrouded in mystery, usually limiting collaborations to members of his camp and affiliates. He will, on rare occasions, collaborate with non-affiliated artists . This adds to his cult status as one of the most loved and supported emcees who is highly sought after. It also means that a collaboration like this becomes an event.
"BRAVO" is sure to become a watershed moment for both these artists in their own right. Even if for different reasons. For A-Reece, this is his chance to prove that he can hang with the best of them, and boy does he rap impeccably to prove this! He delivers a stellar verse, continuing the great momentum and groove he is on throughout the entire mixtape. For Stogie T, this is his opportunity to continue his maverick display of unmatched penmanship alongside an emcee he claimed could potentially be the best emcee in South Africa (see Stogie's Verse Of The Month commentary on A-Reece's "His Image").
A-Reece staking his claim to the throne
A-Reece opens coldly with, "I ain't trying to pressure you, but you're fucking with a professional, I'm lightyears ahead of you, I don't see these niggas like a priest at Confessionals, I'm just trying to be unforgettable…" then continues by saying, "I represent the Jacaranda treeline avenue, where the women got a feline attitude, and niggas share a hustler's attribute, I'm only talking back to you if it's about revenue, if you got a problem we troubleshoot, we perfectly execute, I know you hate that you changed on me ain't nothing new..."
The verse is cold, really cold, but there's not much layering. Reece is basically staking his claim to the throne, carrying forward a confident flow while employing some impressive wordplay and punchlines in the process. In Catholicism, Catholic priests are not meant to see the Christians who come to confess in the Confessional Booth during Confession. Pretoria, where A-Reece is based, is known for its Jacaranda trees and saying women have feline attitudes means they have "catty" attitudes. That is fire.
No Country For Old Men
However, the magic is in Stogie T's verse. Throughout the 12 bars he spits, he subtly and masterfully relays a tale about his own life while alluding to and referencing the 2007 film, No Country For Old Men. Every single line has a double meaning to it and at the very least, 90% of the lines refer to very specific scenes in the film, while advancing his story.
The film centres on three men. The first being Llewelyn Moss who stumbles upon a briefcase full of cash at what looks like a deal gone wrong. There are dead bodies everywhere but he decides to steal the money anyway. The second man is the terrifying villain, Anton Chirguh (pronounced sugar) who is a cold-blooded bounty hunter killer hired to retrieve the money Llewelyn stole. The third man is the old Sheriff Bell, who is investigating and trying to stop the bloodshed caused by the murderous rat and mouse chase.
They call me western, I’m the dark horse that never was bought. https://t.co/ffRmnxjEOW— Circus Recipe (@Circus Recipe) 1616719943.0
Now, Stogie opens his verse with, "This no country for old men, most of them Ghost", which refers to how the rap game is known to be a young man's sport, therefore concluding that it's no country for old men, and those who are old and still in it may as well be dead, gone or be ghosts.
"Sugar (Chirguh) kills, candy-coated nose lost in the sauce" refers to the fact that some who are still in the game, as a result of the pressure to stay relevant and not get old, may end up resorting to drugs, more specifically coke, which is also known as sugar and is administered by inhalation through the nose. As we know, sugar (coke) kills, like Anton Chirguh in the film.
He then says, "They call me western, I'm the dark horse that never was bought", this time referring to himself and alluding to the fact that, for a long time, even today, he is still disparagingly called a wannabe American rapper who is too western, this is why some shun him and view him as a dark horse. No Country For Old Men is a western set in Texas and there's a presence of dark horses that are ridden by the Sheriff and the rest of the police.
He continues, "With every song authored, shot the dog—Llewelyn Moss", meaning that despite how some view him, he still continues to kill everything for his survival, like Llewelyn killed everything to ensure his survival in the film, even shooting the dog. "You dying off-screen, a thousand tweets, toss of a coin", is a stab at the naysayers who are always tweeting negatively at and about Stogie, watching their phone screens, dying inside every time he wins, just like how Anton killed most of his victims off-screen, after letting them decide their fate by a coin toss.
A clever shout out to A-Reece then follows, with Stogie essentially referring to both him and Reece as G.O.A.T.s by saying, "It's the G.O.A.T. and the A-Reece (Aries) ram locking horns", referring to the well-known fact that A-Reece, real name Lethlogonolo Mataboge, got his alias by flipping his star sign's name, Aries whose symbol is a ram. The two G.O.A.T.s are locking horns on a track. Imagery.
"Like a movie when we do this shit, Ethan and Joel", Stogie and Reece's synergy on the song is like that of the Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, who adapted and directed No Country For Old Men, both winning the Oscar awards for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for their efforts. The film also won the Best Picture Oscar the same year.
A line for the trolls
Now, Stogie is aware of all the youngins (and a few old herbs) on the Twitter streets who hate but he says he's cool with them, he's not mad. "And for the kids that troll the streets, I'm pro-teen (protein) like collagen (Carla Jean)", illustrated great wordplay by incorporating Carla Jean Moss, who is the wife of Llewelyn Moss in the film. Collagen is a protein but peep game; not only is collagen the most abundant protein in the body, but it also aids growth of the bones, muscles, tendons and such. The most visible growth of a human body happens during their teen years, therefore collagen really is… pro-teen, as it encourages growth. Crazy.
And for the kids that troll the streets, I’m pro-teen (protein) like Carla Jean (collagen). https://t.co/PJIlzFH1gv— Circus Recipe (@Circus Recipe) 1616721492.0
Dead and gone
Now this is where Stogie ties it all together, acknowledging that some might and will definitely miss the magic in his lines when he writes them. He has reconciled himself with that reality. However, it is much more rewarding for him when a line of his hits a person on a random day after having missed it plenty of times. "Might miss it the first listen, it sinks in in a week. Yeah, it got a ring to it when you get hit in your seat", is an exceptional line because yes it means what was just explained above but, in the film, Anton Chirguh kills Carson Wells after they have a subdued confrontation in Wells' hotel room. In one of the best scenes in the film, Wells sits opposite Chirguh trying to bargain for his life. The conversation is tense but generally low as both are soft-spoken, until the tension is cut by the hotel phone, interrupting them as it rings rather abrasively. It is in the midst of the ringing, that Chirguh nonchalantly pulls the trigger of his device, killing Wells who is hit in his seat as the phone rings. Brilliant!
The last line is a chilling one that alludes to the figurative killing Stogie has just done but also a sombre reconciliation that he too will be gone, literally. "Aye! Bloody feet, honour me, fucking Stogie T/ When I'm gone, the kids will give it up to me... Bravo, bitch!" In the film, leading up to his final act, Llewlyn walks over the Mexican border trying to escape Chigurh. He is bloody all over, particularly his feet. On the contrary, in the film, Chirguh always makes sure that his feet are always clean and never catch blood after he has killed his victims. Great juxtaposition.
Ultimately, South African hip-hop wins with this collaboration. Two generational titans going at it on a soulful drumless sample loop, accentuated by a mesmerising hook by the immeasurably talented BeloSalo is like a dream to hip-hop heads. Both emcees delivered.