Some of the artists featured on The Boom.
Image supplied.

Interview: ‘The Boom’ Compilation Showcases New Cape Town Talent

The Boom compilation album showcases the talents of Cape Town's emerging hip-hop and R&B artists.

Cape Town's hip-hop scene is teeming with talent. With the likes of Dee Koala, Kashcpt, Soul T, Simulation Rxps and a few others breaking into the rest of the country, what's more exciting than going on the ground and exploring more of the scene? The new compilation album, The Boom, brings the streets to your headphones and lets you in on the city's future stars.

The project consists of 10 songs that are collaborations by a selection of Cape Town's emerging talent—Nqobile Eland, Mvula Drae, TRP Don Gy, Cozmik and several others. Production on The Boom is handled by the likes of Lay-Lay, Mark Akol, GreekGod, Sid The Great, LYRIQ and IllRow.

Gung Ho's self-titled song from The Boom acts as a lead single. In the song's racy visuals, the duo of Nqobile Eland and Siya Sam show that their chemistry goes beyond beats as they back up their assertive proclamations with moves that match.

The Boom is a project facilitated by Mic In Check, a blog dedicated to documenting Cape Town's music scene, especially hip-hop. "Similar to how other regions have breakout sounds like gqom and amapiano that carry with them a group of artists," says Wandile Dumakude, one of the founders of Mic In Check, "'Xhosa Nostra rap' is going to be the next break out sound from Cape Town and many artists will come along with it."

The first installment of what will become an annual venture, The Boom is prevalently hip-hop and R&B, and according to MIC, the album "promotes cultural diversity whilst building unity in the local music industry."

In the interview below, Dumakude gives an inside look into The Boom project and what to expect from the Cape Town scene in the near future.

This interview has been slightly edited for length and clarity.

Please explain the title The Boom.

As we brought The Boom Collective together to start this journey of unity and collaboration, not only was it intended to be something explosive but also to be the beginning of something we hope will continue for years to come. It's like the Big Bang moment for the unity and Cape Town music industry. This is how it starts.

How did you pick the artists to include in the project?

We started with a long list of up-and-coming artists throughout Cape Town at that time, some we had worked with and others we had identified. We then sat and had a debate as a team and came up with a shortlist. We approached the artists through a number of avenues, but essentially, we sent out an invite to the artists on the shortlist and some responded to the call and we started the process. Some artists obviously caught wind of the project and requested to be a part of it and where it made sense we brought them on (very selective on that) and others we had to place on the list for the following project.

Read: Ringz and Spidans Rap: The New Sound of Cape Town Hip-Hop

What was the recording process?

It started off with some unrestricted and organic creative jam sessions where the different producers would play some beats, and from that, different artists fell in love with certain beats and also found chemistry with different people in the room. From those jam sessions and freestyle sessions, concepts and skeletons of the songs were born.

The way "Sabaraba" came about was almost accidental. Xoliswa Mayekane, who was there with Dee Mayekane, was sitting in a corner, minding her own business just singing a melody, while the beat was playing and someone's ear picked it up and was like "that's the one" and there you have it, the song was born. The hook for Phuma Nge Mali came about in a similar fashion, very organic.

With regards to the recording process, we put out recording schedules, and those who could make it would show up and we would start recording. We would have everyone in the same house, set up the recording studio, get some food, get the vibe going and get to work. We recorded different versions of each song or concept, sometimes up to four versions of one song and then we chose the version of each song that made sense. I think we had about four versions of "Sobasathini" recorded.

Gung Ho - Gung Ho (Official Video) Prod.

What was the biggest challenge in putting the project together?

With so many people being involved in this project, from co-ordinating to making sure everything is done right, timing was a major challenge. Second to that and perhaps more importantly, the passing of Sakhile Ngcozana, a member of the Mic In Check team and one of the creative leaders of this entire project, at a crucial part of the process, was the biggest challenge. The Boom album is dedicated to Sakhile and his vision of seeing upcoming artists succeed.

Dee Koala is Cape Town's breakout star in a long while. There are a lot of young artists making noise in CPT right now. Who would you say will be the next national breakout star to look out for?

On The Boom project, we worked with over 25 up-and-coming artists and, although some are relatively new, there are a number of these artists who are on the brink of breaking through. Beyond the artists on The Boom album, what we can say is that there is a wave coming out of Cape Town with a very distinct sound. Similar to how other regions have breakout sounds like gqom and amapiano that carry with them a group of artists, "Xhosa Nostra rap" is going to be the next breakout sound from Cape Town and many artists will come along with it. Dee Koala actually set the tone and put the spotlight on this sound. Tracks like "Sobasathini" from The Boom album, also have an element of this growing sound.

Read: Meet Dee Koala, the Young Cape Town-Based Rapper on the Verge of Blowing Up

How has the response to the project been?

The response to the project has been overwhelming, to say the least, even though it hasn't been out for that long and we haven't even kicked off the promo run. A lot of people say they are surprised at how good the album turned out as many were expecting a hardcore hip-hop album, but what they got instead was a well-put-together project with great music, diverse new sounds from over 25 talented artists, and songs that don't sound like they were following a [particular] blueprint.

Prior to its official release, we also played the album at an event (before level 3 lockdown) and the response from people in attendance, who had never heard the music was very positive. Even the artists themselves, some who hadn't heard the full project, were pleasantly surprised with the complete body of work. People often say, the longer they play the album, the more they fall in love with different songs. Which is exactly what we want.

Stream The Boom album on Spotify and Apple Music.