“That’s how I got my Name and Fame” -Kwesta: The full Story

Tell us about your journey, from how it started to you being one of Africa’s biggest artists?
Difficult question, uhm I’m from katlehong, kind of always hated school so mid-high school around grade 9 or 10 I did a lot of what I thought was poetry but I could’ve been lying. I wrote a lot and I’d usually do it in front of my class and in talent shows. After some time I discovered that a guy I always knew from e-Kasi whose name is Nhlanhla aka Don actually made beats and those beats were actually really bad, they were terrible and maybe so was my writing.
We’d record my poetry on top of those beats, we’d use one of those headsets that come with a mic, the ones usually used by call centre consultants. In time the poetry slowly changed into Rap and that was around the same time I got introduced to Rap music listening to acts like Skwatta Kamp, H2O, Proverb and some. When I was in grade 11 that’s when it became serious, I remember some guys moved in the township and they had a proper studio. I saved up through my school pocket money and
recorded a demo that had about 10 tracks or so, when that was done I went to Slikour and Suga Smacks and I think it took me about 4 months to find out where their offices were. When I met with them they told me that they weren’t looking to sign anybody, they had just let go of their artist (My Man) back then, but still I left the CD with my details on it. In 2 or 3 days later
Slikour called me and said this S*** is dope and it might be what they were looking for so I went through, that’s pretty much how
it started and ever since then I just Rap.
You mentioned school, dropping out at the age of 16 how did that decision come about and how did it affect your life back then?
I just wanted something different from what was wanted for me, my mother had a dream for me that I didn’t share with her…You know I didn’t share the whole academic dream. It was a difficult transition to tell my mother that I’m not going back to school and obviously she didn’t agree with that, I even ran away from home for like 3 months or so. It’s not that I don’t believe in school, because I do believe in education, but I believe education is an everyday thing. I just don’t believe in conditioning people to
believe a certain way, I believe in letting people finding their own ways… that’s the whole point of having your own mind.

So from dropping out of school, how long did it take you to breakout in the industry?
It took me a little under 2 years, I dropped out in 2004 and signed with Buttabing in early 2006. Basically as soon as I dropped out I didn’t stop working, I was no longer attending school so I had time to work. Every day I was just rapping, all day that’s what I did I just wanted to rap. I completed about 60 songs in one year, and right after I sent my demo I broke through.
Originally your stage name was “Quest”, how did it evolve to “Kwesta”?
Well… when I started poetry I believed I was on some journey, I thought it was some deep story to find myself so It was a “Quest”. When I started rapping I thought it was a bit too much, too deep, too specific, too focused so I just misspelled it there and there and came “Kwesta”. The core though is still the same as it was, it’s still a journey and the journey hasn’t stopped.

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