You’re Not Going To Get Rich Quick!by Ts’eliso Monaheng / Images by Carey Chanquin / 15.05.2012
From out of nowhere to opening for Lil’ Wayne to dropping catchy rhymes on joints with Tumi Molekane and Reason, Cape Flats emcee, Youngsta’s career is on the up. We caught word that he was producing a new track at the Red Bull Studio and decided to investigate what brought him there. This is how that off-the-cuff conversation went down.
Mahala: So tell us homie, what are you here for?
Youngsta: I’ve decided I’m gonna make an EP – not a mixtape this year, an EP. I kind of overdid the mixtape thing over the last year and the year before that, so this time it’s experimental projects, original beats, and I got the chance to make it in the Redbull studios.
Who’s on production?
We’ve got Audiophile 021, J-Beatz, Freezy, and Crystal Meth of Game City. But this isn’t the end of the project, it’s going to be an on-going thing, that’s why I named it Things take Time, because I’ll only know when to release it once I’ve made enough music and I’m satisfied with it.
So tell us, who’s this Muffinman that you’re always shouting out on songs?
It’s this man next to me here, he’s the quiet one. He’s the reason that I’m probably sitting in these studios, he opened up the doors for me. He let me record hours and hours of mixtapes, he mixed it down for me himself, we did shows together…he’s basically the other half of my musical journey.
You’re one of the few cats in South Africa who is doing hip hop on a full-time basis. How are you tackling it, and what can people learn from your approach?
There are a lot of things that people need to learn. They must start opening their eyes and ears, and they need to pray more. They need to have faith, belief, and determination. I can’t even mention it in a few lines, it’s more emotional; this is not for everyone, you’re not going to get rich quick, and it’s gonna take a lot of time and energy. I’ve only done a fraction of what others sitting ten years in the game have done, but from what I’ve learnt in my little time in the industry, you have to be patient. You have to be willing to try new things, and be open to criticism. And by applying those rules and structures, I think it’s possible to win.
In the few years that you’ve been active, you’ve accomplished quite a lot. Just take us through the stand-outs.
Definitely making twenty-four mixtapes! In making it, I didn’t realise I was doing it, but then you sit back and someone tells you, and you’re like, wow, why did I even do that?! All the gigs that I’ve done, and all the experience being on-stage. It’s always nice to get up there, do what I do, and have people appreciate it. Opening for Lil’ Wayne was also a big thing. A lot of people ask me whether I got to meet him, and I always want to say yes, but nah. Also, getting to make music everyday has been something that I really appreciate; I never take it for granted.
We’ve heard some of the songs you’ve done with Arsenic, and they sound brilliant. When are those getting released?
It’s dropping this year. Like I said, there’s going to be no more mixtapes this year. I haven’t released any new music this year – apart from one song that got leaked, I guess that’s what happens. I want the EPs that I’ve already made to come out. That’s why I’m working on original stuff, so that I can perfect it and build hype around it so that there is a buzz around it when it does drop. I think this year’s gonna be a good year for me.
You connect with the crowd very well during live performances. How important is honing in on that aspect of your craft? What goes through your head when you get on stage?
I like to look people in their eyes, because that lets them know that I’m not joking on stage. There’s no fun happening, it’s serious and I want the audience to listen to every single thing I have to say. I only have a short period of time to impress, and in that time, I cannot afford to have people saying they didn’t get it or they didn’t understand it. There are songs I record specifically because I think, ‘this is gonna be good live’.
And how important is it to represent Cape Town?
I was telling someone the other day that I’m gonna call myself Youngsta-CPT. I don’t know when I’m gonna change it, but it’s gonna catch on to people with just me saying it. I’m already starting it slowly. To represent this city is a pleasure. It’s such a diverse city, and there’s so much to see and learn and do here that when someone mentions it in a song, or you see it in a video, you’re like, ‘wow, I’m so lucky to live here!’ And for rappers to spit about it and to represent it and live it… there’s nothing better.
Rounding off, what can people expect from the various project that you are working on, and when can we expect the music to be released?
Uh… things take time. It all depends on the fans, the listeners. I want to know what they want to hear first. But I think this year, we’re going to go deeper into Youngsta. This year I think we’re just gonna peal back the layers.
*All images © Carey Chanquin.