Zakwe recently celebrated the gold status of his 3rd studio album titled ‘Cebisa’. The album was dropped in 2018 and album boasts features from the likes of Cassper Nyovest, Kwesta, HHP, PRO, Stogie T, Ma-E, Mapaputsi to name a few. ‘Cebisa’ is proving to be Zakwe’s most succeful album, even though it took some time to reach gold.
The album has reached over 2 million stream and won a various number of awards. In 2018, he received 8x nominations for the (South African Hip-Hop Awards) SAHHAs. He won #VOTY (verse of the year) in 2018, and 2019 saw him listed as one of most streamed hip hop Artist in South Africa on spotify. Zakwe also took remix of the year at the 2018 SAHHAs, with the remix of ‘Sebentin’.
To celebrate the love and success he has received with the album ‘Cebisa’, Zakwe recently dropped a single featuring Tribal titled ‘Ngyabonga’. The song is a heartfelt word of thanks by Zakwe, dedicated to everyone who has contributed to in his success and the success of the Hip-Hop culture in South Africa.
Zakwe, a Kasi Rapper that has made a mark in South Africa’s hip-hop industry with his bold voice and heavy punch lines of township stories. He is a poetic lyricist, humanitarian and a very reserved being, which qualifies him as being humble. Zakwe’s music seeks to bring awareness about various issues emanating from ekasi.
We caught up with Zakwe on a Kas’lam TV‘s IG live interview, to dig deeper on his journey and talk more about his current and upcoming works. Watch the full interview on IG Live below and get to read some of the highlight during the chat between Zakwe and Kas’lam TV’s T. Rapz.
Firstly, since this is Kas’lam Mag. Tell about your hood and your experience coming up in your hood?
The name is Ntokozo Zakwe, all the way from Kwa-Mashu. I’m a Rapper, I’m an MC, I’m an aspiring businessman. I started Rapping back in 2002/03 growing up in the Streets of Kwa-Mashu and Msinga. Although I was born in Kwa-mashu, I was always switching up between Kwa-Mashu and eMsinga, so I basically rep both hoods. I grew up with both the rural culture and the township lifestyle, in the townships we call that ‘Half Gabagaba’ lol.
You’ve just celebrated the recently gold status of your album ‘Cebisa’. Getting certified is always a great experience, how do you consistently keep dropping successful albums?
Eish! I wouldn’t say there’s a specific formula to it lol. It’s all about staying rooted to your identity, whether about it’s making it or maintaining it. With me, I’ve always been persistent and always been working hard even during the tough and hard times. Especially with Hip-Hop going through various stages of evolution, moving from different sounds like Crump and Trap. I’ve always maintained being Zakwe and stayed true to my roots. Even when you have to adapt to the different sounds, always stay true to your roots.
Making an album is always hard work and it’s always special when that hard work pays off through various achievements. We just saw that with your third album ‘Cebisa’ going gold, what does this album mean and represent to you?
This album is very close to my heart. With this album I was there from the beginning till the end. With my previous albums I was just a Rapper, I came in the studio when I had to pick the beats or lay my verses and that was it. With this one I was more of an Executive Producer, I was choosing the features, arranging the songs, sampling some of the baselines, directing the different sounds, the correct keys and notes.
X-Wise and Saspekt were still the main guys when it came to the decks, the beat-making and the production itself. However, with this one I was majorly involved in everything. I also think what helped me was the break I took between 2015 – 2018. I got to learn more about music, understanding sounds, I even learnt to play the Piano. I actually think more Rappers should give themselves time to properly study and understand music.
So, this album means a lot to me and I’m glad it went gold. More especially since I worked with a lot of new guys and they added that raw and hunger element.
You’re currently hosting the KZN Lockdown Cyphers and have been holding it down for a while now. We’ve seen the movement grow bigger and bigger, how did the whole initiative come about?
What had actually happened it that I was hoping to be a part of Stogie T’s Freestyle Fridays. Hoping I would get the call up but it didn’t come lol. I then decided to reach out to Stogie and made him aware that I want to expand the cyphers and help the culture reach more people. I gave him a call for his blessings and He was excited about it himself, because he was never going to be able to put on the entire country. I decided I’m just going to focus on KZN however, I was shocked to discover that we have so many dope Rappers in the province. We change the beat every month and each month marks the start of a new season, right now we’re on KZN Lockdown Ciphers season 4.
What are you currently working on in terms of the music? Are you dropping a new album anytime soon?
I’m excited to announce that I’m working on a collaboration album with Duncan, I wanted to keep this news to myself for a while but I think this is the right time to make it know. We’ll be dropping the first single of the album in the next week. Myself and Duncan have always wanted to do something together however, we had a 5-year separation and lost contact with each other. A lot of people have been waiting for this to happen and it’s going to be a crazy album!
What we’re actually looking to do is work with new producers, So producers can send us their beats to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is going to be a crazy album and we’re looking at dropping it this November.
We’ll also be dropping mixtape composed of some of the best of the KZN Lockdown Cipher Artists. We’re compiling verse from them and putting them together to make songs and compile the mixtape. Even the Rappers / Artists themselves don’t know who they’ll be on a song with until the mixtape actually drops. So, also look out for that one as well!
You were recently taking part of the #VulaPresident. What has led KZN Artists to appeal to the government through this initiative and has there been a response?
I actually didn’t know much about the initiative till it happened. The actual brief was that we must wear black clothing and come through to the location, we’re all going to perform. when I got there, I stunned by the actual proceedings, but then I was like yes since we’re here, let’s do this! I actually feel this was a statement that had to be sent and our voice needed to be heard.
The government is actually responding to our plea and the leaders of the initiative have since met with the municipality to address the issue. They also did apologise on all of our behalf in terms of the effects of the protest, but it was something that had to happen. We felt like we were neglected, seeing that almost the entire country has gone back to work. We also have families to feed and it’s about time that we also go back to work.
Who would you say is on your top 10 list of Rappers?
I could still name a few more, but I wouldn’t say I have an ultimate favourite MC/Rapper. A lot has changed in the rap game, it’s no longer skill dependent it’s more song dependent now and it’s difficult to pinpoint the ultimate MC. To make an example take a look at Kwesta, he’s not dropping bars as he used to. However, that doesn’t take away from what he has done and the fact that we know he can still do it even now or tomorrow, but he himself has chosen to be more song And musically appealing rather than the display of skill.