2013 has been a great year for the South African Hip Hop scene as we witnessed how certain artists managed to break barriers by achieving milestones seen before in this genre.[one_half last=”no”]
Compare the scene right now to what was happening 10 years ago and it is very easy to pick up on the improvements. When tuning into the paid-television channels like Channel O and MTV Base, local rap is on more rotation currently ever.
It took the industry a little while to take note, but Ifani’s resilient and unique entrance into the game stands out in many discussions that concern SA rap. When he first came into the game it was much easier for most commentators to assume that Ifani was a one hit gimmick that would have disappeared by now.
But there seems to be a much stronger vision and artistic strategy from this dude.
He is currently signed to the strongest business management team led by Refiloe Ramagose called Dream Team SA.
“Sony saw my music video on Channel O and hunted me down like a springbok. (Not like the rugby team, [laughs]). After long discussions, they signed me,” he says.
“Dreamteam contacted me on Twitter. We immediately set up a meeting. After finding out who they were I ran to them. We spoke for 15 minutes and I was signed. That deal linked me to Sheila Afari PR as well.”
Born Mzayifani Mzondeleli Boltina, the Xhosa rapper converted his birth-name into a stage persona whose presence is very hard to ignore.
“We need a global footprint and that’s my aim.”
His image is far from that of a rapper and so is his approach to the game. Ifani has introduced an authentic sound and personality and managed to position it in a way that guarantees a much broader path than just a one hit gimmick.
‘How did you get into the rap game?’ I ask. “Back when my best-friend and I used to take things that didn’t belong to us, we stumbled over tapes (we were 8 years old at the time) and took them home. When we played them, we discovered rap music. I’ve been hooked since,” he says.[/one_half] [one_half last=”yes”]
Ifani’s latest single Milli is currently on heavy rotation both on radio and television circuits; he enthuses, “Milli is one of my favourite jams currently, and it was produced by AirDee and I wrote all the lyrical material on it.”
On the song, he continues to depict his fantasy of wanting to be a millionaire so that he can take Zizo Beda (South African television personality) out on a date, as he believes she is not a pizza-kinda-girl.
The song is slowly climbing up the charts and it is the one song that Ifani needed in order to make people take his music seriously despite the strong comical influence in it.
His style of comical music is not new to the South African scene. Initially, there was another artist signed to DJ Cleo’s Will of Steel Productions by the name of Pitch Black Afro.
With DJ Cleo in charge of the music composition and production, Pitch Black Afro’s first album – Styling Gel, went on to sell over 120 000 copies, and up to this day, that album holds the record for the highest units sold in SA rap.
“A lot of people have mentioned that my style reminds them of Pitch Black Afro. Can’t quite tell you why coz my teeth are fine,” he laughs. He adds: “My skin-tone is a bit light, my voice sounds different and my fashion style is much cleaner. I am not sure why I get compared to him. Maybe it’s the hair? But yes, I love Pitch Black Afro and I worked with him before I went mainstream. We both never thought or felt like we were alike.”
One of the attributes which affirm that Ifani is going to be around for much longer in this fickle industry is that he remains unique amongst a pool of artists who are all gravitating toward emulating the same persona. That is one of the reasons he stands out and why the country will be looking to embrace his art-form.
“We need a global footprint and that’s my aim. In order for us to be able to take our music to the world, we need to bring a unique style to the table. We need to offer them what is not already out-there,” he concludes.[/one_half]