When people speak of real rap, the conversations are almost always centered around lyricism, braggadocious confidence and impactful content. The standards and prerequisites are pretty clear in the real rap realm of Hip Hop, and everyone involved in the culture is well aware of what is expected for rhythm-and-poetry practitioners. Rap today has fast become a humongous commercial beast, beating genres like rock and pop in popularity. It is almost unrecognizable from its beginnings which were characterized by beating the odds, using societal strife to fuel creativity and aiding the process of repairing the systematic destruction of communities of people of color. With a school of thought, rules and ideologies developed, the culture spread like a wildfire globally, so its prominence is no surprise.
One of the most fascinating aspects about Hip Hop is how malleable, adaptable and welcoming the culture is, and for that very reason it has been taken in by different cultures all over the world, repackaged and adapted to fit certain demographics. In South Africa, a country that is blessed with eleven official languages, rap is not just linguistic exercise that people randomly latch on to pass time, but it serves as a medium of expression that is heavily influenced by life – the good and the bad. We have some of the best wordsmiths in the game who are feared, respected and adored in the continent in the mainstream and underground realm. With a thriving mainstream Hip Hop industry, it is easy to forget that we have a healthy underground scene that produces world-class artists that can go toe-to-toe with the world’s best. Willing Listeners Forum, a rapper and producer from Pietermaritzburg, is a soldier for the underground – pushing for impactful, competitive and impressive rap. Fighting off the urge to dumb it down or dilute his artistry seems like it is a struggle that troubles him as he innovates within the perimeters of the true school – gritty beats, bars and great concepts.
Fusing IsiZulu and the Queen’s language, he paints a picture of his life, builds imaginative worlds and offers advice to his peers in the game and consumers of his art. Over the years, he has released a number of releases which have allowed him to amass a decent following online and has built a dope network of like-minded artists. To kick 2019 off, he released a seven-minute teaser where he flexes his lyrical muscle and genius. Rapping over dust beat production from Coryayo and Cosmic Analog Ensamble, he raps his heart out expressing himself. He does not only speak of real rap but he shows it, displaying his talent in an exceptional performance. He is an anomaly in the South African Hip Hop and he carries the badge confidently as he carves his own path.
Listen to his latest offering, Nip Swag, below.