Talking Hip Hop With Kast And His Desires To Penetrate The Globe

By Ryan Blumton

In this week’s Echo Arts we speak to Botswana’s Hip Hop export Kast, real name Tshepiso Molapisi to talk about the African origins of Hip Hop, making Hip Hop our own as Africans and his journey in music. Kast successfully collaborated with Nigerian artist Chibike for in a blended purely African soundtrack entitled “King of Lagos” back in 2017.

Kast has hosted one of Botswana’s largest music event ‘tlatsa lebala.’ (fill up the stadium).

Kast said that part of making Hip Hop music arose from listening to his first rap song and how deeply the genre resonated with who he was, how Hip Hop could become the platform that could make him realize his ambitions.

His music and career thus far “though I have been around for a while, I still have aspirations of going international and penetrating the globe. Simultaneously I have always wanted my music to resonate with people who are not necessarily Hip Hop heads which is why my music is very experimental and includes Afrocentric elements. I blend sounds and experiment and I like Motswako as much as I like rapping in English and recently did an Amapiano song.” Kast said.

Kast said he cannot really pick out which of his songs is the best song as each blends different elements. “My songs are very different ‘Ntsang Nkgo’ is Afrocentric, Setswana and I recently dropped a song called ‘Phoko’ which is very boom bap and Hip Hop based and I only rap in English in it. I have done such different sounds that it’s hard to pick a favorite song. ‘Ntshang Nkgo’ kicked started my career and I got airplay for the first time with that song, ‘Bantuka’ and ‘Ndono’ literally took me to the nation, there are of course classics I have left out and I like my songs for different reasons.” Kast said.

Kast said that as much as Hip Hop came out of The Bronx in New York, it always had Afrocentric elements brought by artists like DJ Kool Herc who was from Jamaica bringing that dancehall, and reggae flavor. He gave an example of the cypher as an element that African slaves took to America.

“The roots of Hip Hop are African and that’s why it’s such a global phenomenon. Hip Hop is a genre that can morph into any other genre, you can mix it with anything, and the rhythm and poetry of rap as a tool can be used across a lot of genres,” Kast added.

Kast said Botswana has amazing upcoming rappers but he believes that we still try to emulate the overseas sound, though he concurred that sometimes it is hard to blame artists because the new sound appeals to younger audiences. Kast emphasized that we need to own our African sound and gives the example of the song ‘Fatshe Leno’ by 3rd mind and Vee and how that sound would blend nicely with Trap.

Kast said that in terms of radio airplay, Batswana need to make a deliberate decision to prioritize local art not that ‘we restrict international music in any way but we need to be prouder about Botswana’s music.’

Kast said when South Africa and Nigeria made the move to prioritize their music it benefitted their industries.

He believed that local artists need to be more experimental and embrace local sounds and integrate them with the sound that they hear internationally for them to stand out and be unique.

If everything goes well, he said he wants to drop an EP (Extended Play) in 2021 and release an album in 2022.

“I want to get back to my advocacy work, I never stopped but I want to focus more on that. I am producing a show for TV around business. I recently deleted everything on my YouTube channel, just start afresh and create a lot more content than I have been and be a lot more vocal about arts and for 2022 do another ‘tlatsa lebala’ and main event at the Stadium.”

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