This Studio Of A Life–Portraits Of Rappers And Producers

I can’t recall when I first fell in love with hip-hop, but I do know that the first song I transcribed was Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s paradise.’ Transcribing lyrics in ‘songbooks’ was a big deal in the mid-nineties; it was shortly before I discovered that oohla.com existed, around the same time I was heavy into the culture of cassette-sharing. Myself and a primary school friend would exchange kwaito tapes — M’du, Mashamplani, Trompies, B.O.P — every second week.

On one of those tapes — Mashamplani’s Never Never — I heard the instrumental version to ‘Is Vokol Is Niks.’ A year later, I was in my first year of high school and left to my tools on a Saturday afternoon. I put the instrumental on loud in the main room, took an empty cassette tape, inserted it into a boombox, pressed record, then proceeded to kick my first ‘rap.’

Which brings me to the topic — This Studio Of A Life!

I was born ten minutes’ drive from Maseru’s CBD. I started hanging around rappers since I was 12 years old — in studio, at rap cyphers, and at shows. I’ve been to a lot of studios in that time, but it’s only in the past year that I’ve attempted to capture the electric energy and creative impulse present when artists congregate inside a studio.

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Further Reading

Darra

In this post, the writer, from Cape Town, reflects on the life of her working class father, who like her friends’ fathers worked tough jobs for low pay, and hid his vulnerabilities.

Power to the People

This week’s episode of AIAC Talk is a replay of the launch of the latest issue of Amandla! magazine, a South African publication advancing radical left perspectives for change.