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Before speaking to Kwesta about his forthcoming mixtape, Rally 4 DaKAR, I came across a signature picture by the revered youth culture photographer, Liam Lynch.
It’s a portrait backgrounded by crisp whiteness enclosed by a thin black border with more white polaroid-esque space outside of that.
Liam shot Kwesta at the launch of the Not in our Lifetime music gig that was held as a response to the spate of attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa in 2008.
Today, Kwesta says he is DaKAR. Da what now?
“I’ve never been to Senegal and never ridden a motorbike as part of the Dakar Rally,” he laughs at the predictable question, “but I’m calling my mixtape DaKAR. Initially, I wanted to call it The King of African Rap, but I thought it might be better to make it an acronym, KAR, then just add Da in front of it. I know a lot of rappers are going to get mad that I called myself the ‘king of African rap’.”
And how’s he going to deal with that?
“I’m not,” he laughs.
They’ll be mad every Monday then because that’s when the eight songs that make up Rally 4 DaKAR – the prelude to the October release of Kwesta’s DaKAR album – will be released for free download online. Only up for one week each, the first instalment of this Rally was released this week.
Called Boom Shaka Laka, it features Cashtime Fam’s Kid-X and is produced by Clay Bullard who has apparently worked with Rick Ross.
“When I first heard this beat, I could just hear Kid-X on it,” Kwesta says. “Besides the fact that we’re boys and always chill, the studio situation has come up often. We should have done a song together a long time ago.”
From what I’ve heard so far, Kwesta has shed his happy-go-lucky persona and is more frank about his experiences.
“I think I just stopped myself from saying stuff before,” he explains. “But I got tired of saying that I’m giving you all of me when I know I’m censoring myself. Sometimes there’s going to be foul language, but now I just want to be who I am. A rapper and a damn good one at that.”
Back at the launch, Kwesta was a baby-faced budding rapper who shadowed Skwatta Kamp member and Buttabing record label boss (alongside Shugasmakx), Slikour. Initially green as a four-leaf clover, Kwesta finally got his lucky break through his debut album, Special ReKwest.
A more self-assured young man who wasn’t shy to hold his own on any song emerged. Now the only reminder that Kwesta was once a bashful kid who had to reconcile his East Rand jams roots with the music game is a 2008 photo of him popping his hoodie like one would a collar.
But you know what they say: if you’re not changing you’re dying.
• Follow Kwesta on Twitter @kwestamrcool for the Rally 4 DaKAR download links.