Cape Town-based wordsmith Youngsta’s been in Johannesburg for a few weeks, here on a mission to build bridges and shake a few industry players’ hands, all the while invading the city with his brand of Kaapse rap. It’s been roughly five years of steady hustle and grind for the emcee whose claim to fame is having released 24 mixtapes in a period of eighteen months. Youngsta’s gone on to perform music with DJ Ready D, release albums with well-renowned DJs such as Hamma (who used to rap in Braase Vannie Kaap way back when), and form Deurie Naai Alliance with Arsenic, one of the Cape’s most consistent producers.
He’s also built a movement called Y?Generation, an “army of street soldiers” by his definition. The idea to build a community-centered movement was inspired by the sense of stillness and helplessness anyone who grew up in the hood has felt or experienced at different points in their life. Things didn’t pan out as envisioned. Instead of loosing momentum, Youngsta thought he’d stiek uit and reach out to people in different areas whose life outlook and focus were as sharp. “[Knowing] we all had common goals in music & social developments, we joined up,” says the affable and engaging rhyme-spitter when talking about Y? Generation via e-mail..
Youngsta invited me along on a mini-tour of the gully and gutter streets of Hillbrow the other day. The goal was to go from one end to walk the length of its streets while taking the odd picture. It turned out to be a session filled with interactions only possible in Jozi — a spaza shop owner who could recite Nas’ ’94 album Illmatic line-for-line; a walking 90s rap cliche (Fubu gear, Timbs, durag) who looked well into his forties and had a stall which resembled his personal wardrobe; and a homie who tried to charge us money in order to have a picture taken, while trying to sell us crusty weed at the same damn time!
All in all, it was an incredible day! More pictures are on Youngsta’s facebook page.