Blxckie, a fast-rising South African hip-hop artist, talks about his rise, breakout year, collaborations, and first album ‘B4Now.’
The addition of Blxckie has heightened the tension in the game. Last October, the Durban-born rapper, singer, and producer burst into the scene with his track “Big Time Sh’lappa,” which he co-wrote with LucasRaps. The song immediately attracted everyone’s attention and increased Blxckie’s loyal fan base while also gaining him new followers. “Big Time Sh’lappa” has recently surpassed a million views on YouTube.
Over the past three years, Blxckie has honed his skills and established a name for himself with the Durban group Clout Internet Boyz, but he eventually had to relocate to Joburg in order to pursue his musical ambitions.
The rapper and his friends LucasRaps, Shouldbeyaung, and Yung Seruno would benefit from being on lockdown in his producer 808Sallie’s house. During this time, Blxckie recorded and released loosies on a near-daily basis. He also used this opportunity to familiarize himself with the industry’s inner workings. Blxckie is the most talked-about South African hip-hop artist right now because of all of that background work and his just-released debut album B4Now.
The 21-year-old multi-talented performer has introduced an intensity and degree of enthusiasm to South African hip-hop that both casual listeners and fans may argue has been missing in recent years. As a result, many people are looking to him to be a savior, and some are predicting that he’ll be the rookie of the year this year — or maybe the proper leader of his age of rappers.
B4Now is an album of songs that Blxckie has been working on for the past year and a half. Somnyama’s melodic approach and fascinating, multi-layered harmonies are showcased on the album, allowing him to float over a variety of musical styles, from 808-laden trap to soft R&B/soul and even amapiano. He glides effortlessly between the various sounds, seamlessly switching between flows while retaining a captivating cadence and keen lyrics – which spans from evocative to introspective.
Blxckie discusses his rise through the ranks of local hip hop, collaborations, and what he aims to accomplish with his first album B4Now in the video below.
For length and clarity, this interview has been slightly altered.
What impact did growing up in Durban have on your music?
Durban is a great fan of house music, especially deep house, gqom, and other dance sounds. A hip-hop listener is mostly interested in the American scene. However, by listening to musicians like Nasty C, you can see how his work links to what is going on in America. Being a cool kid was a complete culture in itself. There were numerous events organized specifically for that segment of the culture. There were also a number of people working to promote the new hip-hop and fashion culture among the youth. Growing up in that environment and with other young people who were willing to listen to music other than house or gqom was a blast. Because I knew I was a part of the youth listening to that music, it really helped me mature and concentrate on the craft a little bit more. And since this is what I want to make, I approached the music in this manner.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations in the last year. How do you decide who to collaborate with, and who would you still like to collaborate with on a song?
I had a list when I arrived in Joburg, and I had checked it off within a month. I used to stay with Lucas[Raps] and [Dr] Peppa, and since they knew a lot of people, I was able to get all of the features I wanted through them. However, I’ve never been scared to sing along to someone else’s music. I’ll almost certainly do a feature if it makes sense. I worked with Foca, Zingah, and Riky on some projects. Some tunes are yet to be released, while others have already been released. But it’s with Tshego that I’m most excited to collaborate. Lira and Monique Bingham are also on my wish list.
You’ve kept the feature count on the album minimal for someone who has been doing a lot of features. What was the justification for this?
The majority of the songs I posted on Soundcloud had other people in them. I figured that if I’m going to use this album as an introduction, I shouldn’t have too many guests. People must hear what I have to say. The album’s features are on tracks that have already been released, such as “Big Time Sh’lappa” and “Stripes.” I wanted the record to be basic and personal.
What’s the backstory behind Nasty C’s appearance on the song “Yex4”?
I first saw Nasty when he was on the Ivyson Tour in 2019. It took place in Durban, and Clout Internet Boyz were also scheduled to perform. Nasty was having rehearsals the day before the event, and we lived close to the venue. We arrived at the place and met him. But he had no idea; it wasn’t like an artist-to-artist contact. He probably mistook us for a bunch of kids who had somehow learned about the rehearsals.
The second time was on his Zulu Man With Some Power tour last year. “Big Time Sh’lappa” had already been released by that point, and I had been working for a while. We got to talking about how we’re both from Durban, and Nasty said he was glad to see that someone else was accomplishing what he had planned, which was to open doors for younger kids who wanted to get into music. We’ve been conversing on Instagram since then, and he’s seen my progress. He liked the sixth song I sent him, “Ye x4”. ‘This is a strange tune, email it to me,’ he replied. The next day, he returned it to me. Because it was a little too early, I didn’t want to dwell on the fact that Nasty had just bumped into my song. I didn’t want to broadcast it because I hadn’t done anything yet! Before releasing the music, I wanted to chill with it and see what I could come up with for myself. The album provided the ideal chance to say, ‘OK, now it’s time!’
“Sika” is a catchy tune with amapiano-kwaito overtones, while “Hold” is an R&B/Soul ballad straight up. What do you think about hip-hop purists who criticize rappers for including amapiano and R&B components into their songs?
I’ve never thought of hip-hop as simply rhyming. I’ve always considered it as a part of being a musician and artist, and as a culture. I’m attempting to develop a really broad concept of Blxckie and to have [various avenues] through which to express myself. It’s not just about being a rapper or a vocalist; there’s a lot going on. It all comes down to being able to compose music.
After all of that, what do you hope to accomplish with B4Now?
It’s just a start. Many people remember me from my SoundCloud days, but I have a feeling there are some who don’t. So, I wanted to bring the new and old fans together and, in a sense, start over. A lot will happen after the album, but it’s a good way to start and say, “hey, this is what I was doing before, and this is what I’m doing right now.” I’m simply attempting to put all of the tunes together. That’s the main point, as well as telling folks my experience.