Mzansi Mnandi frontman & pioneer, Thiaps, releases Snegenege Vol 1
Our first interaction with charismatic Johannesburg based artist, Thiaps, was through his culture-shifting and authentically South African release of SUPERFISHAAL. SUPERFISHAAL served as a perfect introduction to his art – the project was filled with character, attitude and a level of enviable and unmatched patriotism to his own country and culture.
Thiaps’ confidence is undoubtedly inspirational. He packs enough artristic fire-power that forces the South African listener to reminisce to a time when acts like Morafe, HHP, Teargas and Zuluboy were standout acts giving us a fresh local take on Hip Hop and showed us what was possible with the music. Thiaps shows us that it is okay to carry our culture, our language and heritage to communicate a universal message with his music. Themes of good times, his upbringing, his roots, struggle, love and township life are intelligently communicated in his music – something South African Hip Hop music often lacks. Is it even fair to box him into Hip Hop? I mean, sure he raps and can rap circles around your favourite rapper but he cannot just be reduced to another ‘rapper’, that would simply be an inaccurate description – Thiaps embodies much more, so much more.
Championing who you truly are, where you come from and honestly capturing the South African story indicates an admirable level of bravery. It must be tough having to shake off Western influences when making music in this highly globalised world – a world that can be cruel to African artists. Surprisingly, the rest of the world often hungers for true African sounds, language, cadences and tradition to come through in the music that we export.
Thiaps has come back with a brilliant short EP called Snegenege Vol. 1, a project that is surely going to raise the flag high for Mzansi Mnandi, a purely South African genre Thiaps is pioneering with his DiPOPAAi compadres. Thiaps is not only behind Mzansi Mnandi, but he is also propelling Tsotsi taal to the fore – Tsotsi Taal is a language formed through the mixture of a variety of South African languages mainly spoken in the Gauteng province of South Africa. He prefers to coin the language and the lifestyle that he leads Sofistikasi. Snegenege means snack in Sofistikasi which perfectly describes the EP as it is short and serves as a temporary – but impactful – filler for something bigger coming in future. The EP was inspired by recent work by popular South African rapper, Ricky Rick, called Scooby Snacks.
How many artists can you name, who are not only bringing innovation in music but are also creating their own language and lifestyle? I doubt that anyone can name more than five artists, local and global, who are doing that. Thiaps is clearly not a follower of trends, but a leader that is shifting culture and introducing a new school of thought. Seven months ago, Thiaps dropped the first single from the EP called Show Dem produced by Swaziland-born and Johannesburg-based producer, Rendition. Thiaps confidently clarifies his position in the game, taunts his peers and expresses his intent. The message is clear – Thiaps promises disruption and longevity.
Snegenege Vol 1. is only four tracks strong, with one of the songs being a short throwback of a South African classic by the legendary DJ Mujava called Mugwanti. Fifty-percent of the project was produced by KaeB, who has close ties with Thiaps as they share a love and passion for music and animation. Hunna and Dibirie are personifications of South African flair which Thiaps proudly embodies. It’s incredible how much unique content Thiaps managed to fit in such a short project which goes to show that we are undoubtedly being readied for more impactful and ground-breaking bodies of work in the future.
Thiaps does not compromise when it comes to who he is and where he comes from, with his head screwed on right and his goals clearly identified – how can he be stopped?
Stream Snegenege Vol. 1 below:
The project is also available for download here.