January 30 2014
Does it come as a surprise that hip-hop is one of the most spread out genres in Lesotho and surrounding South Africa? Hip hop being the spoken word of the peoples, often spreads out easily due to its ability to simultaneously host both local and global cultural traits. In short, hip-hop as a genre is free and flexible, a fertile ground for various stories, containing in itself language, politics, native rhythmical structures and the simple wish to pursue communal voices wrapped in sing-along tunes.
Lesotho already gave birth to prominent rappers such as L-tore (who raps in Sesotho and English) and T.U.R.K, amongst others, who seem to be carving their way out. I wish there’d be more females engaging in this genre, but I not even attempt to criticise for the lack of female rappers coming from Lesotho. The future remains yet to be seen, whether females continue to take on roles of singers and songwriters while men continue being MC’s and producers.
Lesotho hiphop is genuinely the sound of the streets, as seen in 2007 documentary ‘The Cipha’. We witness a predominance of street face off battles, which are in L-tore’s words MC’s way of maturation; ‘an initiation for becoming a known and respected MC, a process that nurtures the very essence of spoken word genres: showing skill and virtue in rapping, speaking out personal and communal stories’. In the midst of everything, Lesotho has been going through during it’s relatively short independent history (since 1966), the one thing the people of Lesotho are passionate about is striving to keep their identity, traditions and roots.
An example for such dedication to the local tradition and cultural identity, D2amajoe is a movement which aims at conglomerating hiphop artists and promoting local rap talents. Record label of this conglomerate is TSEPE Records, which in Sesotho means iron steel, and is also a name for Lesotho hiphop subgenre, suggesting lyrics that are extremely hard in style. Tsepe is said to be equally inspired by contemporary, global hiphop as well as the traditional famo music (e.g view this contemporary example taken from a recent event series meant to revive Sesotho language and culture). In the words of one of the artist featured in the movement, Kommanda Obbs (check some live footage of his performance here), “The term tšepe means hard-hitting lyrics and it refers to people who work hard to achieve their goals and dreams. It is a term with a hip hop influence* ”. ‘Malekoporo’ is the first official video by D2amajoe.
* Source: Quote taken from an interview of Lesotho’s local paper the Sunday Express.
D2amajoe – Malekoporo
Shot and edited by: Sehlabaka Rampeta for Cuts On Raps
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