The New Breed of Lesotho Hip Hop

An idea of what's going down in Lesotho with the emcees whom I think will be making a considerable amount of noise in 2013.

Leribe district, the author's childhood home in Lesotho. Photo: Wiki Commons.

I am based in-between Maseru, Lesotho, and Cape Town, South Africa, throughout the year. Recently, when in Lesotho, I decided to see how far the Hip-Hop scene had progressed, seeing that I have been involved directly in it for more than ten years. Some things impressed me, but most things did not. So I decided to give you an idea of what’s going down there in the form of a list of emcees whom I think will be making a considerable amount of noise in 2013.

L-Tore is reported to be the leader of a crew called Royalty Clique, which has, if my source is correct, names such as Nirex and Lynor in its midst. While he has been rapping for a while, building his name through the rank-and-file in street cyphers, it is only in the past two years that he has decided to stand on his own two feet. On stage he displays a confidence not unbecoming for an artist of his nature, both in build and personality. His mixtape, “The commercial mix”, will be out anytime soon.

I lived in Leribe at a place called Mankoaneng Lisemeng, during my secondary high school years. Big Bar’s song by the same name evokes memories of what the place used to look and feel like.

“America” was Mankoaneng’s nick-name, but it was far-removed in any sense of the word from the actual country, save for the LHDA Houses which accommodated workers during the early phases of  the project; workers from different nationalities, all holed-up in a compound of approximately 2 square kilometers. In as much as the mini-America was far-removed from its multiply-more successful big brother, so were these LHDA inhabitants from the surrounding community. Big Bar’s flow is stupendously-simply structured to place emphasis on the message. His story-telling ability makes him impossible to ignore, as he spits lines such as: “Ka leba Pelican, ke batla motho ke baba / nonyana li lutse batho holimo ba hlanya / joaloka bo-ntate ba mine TEBA ba khafa” [I went to Pelican looking for someone / exciting things were happening, people were excited / like men from TEBA paying tax].

Note: Pelican is a well-known restaurant in the district of Leribe. TEBA is the organization which used to help Lesotho migrants find work in South African mines.

I saw T.U.R.K rap at Kommanda Obbs’s album launch towards the end of 2011. Apparently, a rapper called Z-Digi, once big on the scene but now temporarily disengaged, tweeted early on that Lesotho should be on the lookout for him. In a way, he mentored T.U.R.K. Does he agree? “You’d have to ask him that I guess. I just saw a kid with a skill ahead of his years coupled with mad passion,” is his considered response. He caves in and half-admits that he “tried [his] best to put him on and offered up all [his] connects.” T.U.R.K’s confidence and exquisite flow on the stage is bespoke, cocky, and er, dripping with swagga (his abandoned moniker). Does he agree: “No, not in the conventional sense… but he gave me a platform and I look(ed) up to him,” T.U.R.K answers. He might sound a tad bit American (okay, maybe a lot more than a tad bit, or maybe I’m still hung up about accents). However you interpret his style, the fact is that he is likable. (Note: he was the winner of a 50,000 Maloti competition sponsored by a cellphone company.)

I once battled Tieho in a park somewhere in the middle of Maseru. I don’t usually battle; I thought my style was dope that day. His brother was one of the judges. I lost. He got the free t-shirt. Like L-Tore, Tieho has slowly been building his skillset. He has the illest off-the-top moments; I have visual  evidence somewhere in my archives. The last time I had heard him, he was on my good friend Anonymous’s other songs. I wasn’t impressed; I preferred him in ciphers. He gained prominence around Maseru after joining the D2amajoe movement towards the end of 2011. I don’t know what to think of him yet, but judge for yourself with this video.

Honourable mentions:

Isosceles and Future: rap tag-team intent on saving Hip-Hop from its own soul. Their release, “Olive Branch”, is available as a free download.

Charles Alvin: ubiquitous rap names aside, his live performances (as part of the duo Broken Record) are off the roof. Check out this video if you need convincing, over a beat produced by Nyambz (NB: muptee recorded on the beat in 2006).

Further Reading