Nasty C has just made us witness the most pre-ordered album in Africa. His previous album Strings and Bling has over 140 million streams. He has gained seamless relationships with internationals and has inspired his generation to dream beyond South Africa and America with his global aspirations.
How did we get here?
In 1990 an unapologetic independent rap group in South Africa, The Prophets Of The City, made us and their generation see and believe that we too can in fact run and conquer with Hip-Hop in our country regardless of what the mainstream preferred.
Around 1992, Black Noise showed us that a rap group can sign a deal with a label, and by that same time both them and P.O.C made us see that rappers can be on TV and radio, even if it’s only once in two months, or something as ridiculous as that type of rotation. It still gave a generation hope that they too can one day make it to a local screen.
Around 2003, Skwatta Kamp group showed us that hip hop can be on high rotation, manage itself, make money, integrate ghetto vernacular and crossover to the mainstream, and possibly even compete with the biggest songs in other genres. A generation was inspired to look at this artform as a way to live.
Around 2006, HHP showed us how a subculture can exist within hip hop outside the ghetto narrative which groups like Skwatta, Prokid, Amu, and other kwaito groups of the day would champion. But most importantly he showed South African businesses and brands that they can actually start doing endorsement deals directly with rappers. Something that was at times exclusive to white artists or black artists led by white managers. This inspired a surge of managers who started thinking differently and brands who started looking for other options in the culture.
Although HHP was a solo act, one can argue that he was within a greater circle of acts with Morafe, Tuks, Maxhoba, Mo Molemi, and more. Therefore, I’d say the group success spell was broken in 2011 with AKA‘s Alter Ego album. AKA showed us solo success with songs like “All I Know” and “Victory Lap,” which both had no features, but made us see English rap receiving more acceptance and his success is a sign of how rappers don’t need to always be integrating vernacular.
When the debate whether the masses are still buying physical music was brewing, then came Cassper Nyovest in 2013 - 2014, proving a case of how the young people are consuming on digital platforms, particularly free or illegal downloads. Cassper Nyovest took a full digital route, this saw a generation of artists giving out their music for free to build their brands. This was probably the first time the market stopped solely relying on mainstream media for a buzz.
Today we are breaking records on the biggest digital paid platforms, international deals are direct. You see, pioneers never reap what their successors sow in benefits and if Nasty is a pioneer today, imagine what’s still coming. In the words of one of the greatest rap groups...The SAGA Continues!