Naming songs after public figures may seem to be the new wave, but a momentary look into rap music’s past will reveal a subculture-worthy trend for hip-hop culture’s tendency to remix – and hence reconfigure and raise awareness about – people in the public sphere by invoking their names, from Outkast’s ‘Rosa Parks‘, to, most recently, A$ap Ferg’s trap-leaning homage to Shabba Ranks.
This resurgence hasn’t left South Africa behind. After going head-to-head with L-Tido on last year’s ‘Julius Malema‘, Cassper Nyovest has, after multiple delays, unleashed ‘Doc Shebeleza‘, a high-powered musical dap to the South African kwaito music artist. Cassper’s is hungry for more, and makes a convincing argument throughout the song. He’s fighting for something bigger than him. He twitches with hunger pangs as he switches between a gang of flows, at times sounding like a cross between Lection and iFani’s long-lost Tswana twin. He even quotes Doc Shebeleza’s ‘Gets getsa‘ at the very beginning of the song, riffing “tlogela ngwan’o, mo tlogele” (meaning: leave that girl alone).
‘Gusheshe‘, his kasi-certified collaboration with Okmalumkoolkat, trampled all over the latter part of 2013’s South African hip-hop organogram. Judging from the response ‘Doc Shebeleza‘ has been getting at live shows, 2014 is set to be yet another noteworthy moment in Cassper’s ascendancy up the South African mainstream.
PS: According to the African Hip Hop Blog, “the song’s simple yet artistically impressive artwork managed to trend on South African Twitter when it was released last week.” My bet is on this guy’s success.