Moz Kid. Picture: LUNGAMAC'D

What were you doing at 19? That’s the cheeky title of the now 20-year-old fast-rising rapper Moz Kidd’s breakthrough mix tape. At 19, his name was already being mentioned in the local hip hop inner circles.

Born and bred in Nelspruit, Moz Kidd has never had major market exposure. He started gaining real traction when he moved to Joburg two years ago.

His parents initially wanted him to study in Cape Town because they were cautious about him pursuing music full-time on in Joburg. But he managed to convince them to send him to study at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

As expected, the Joburg music scene took him and he left, after just six months, to fully focus on his music career.

The decision paid off when powerhouse independent label, Mabala Noise approached him with a record deal.

He recalls how he’d been sending his demo around to recording companies when Mabala reached out a few months ago. “I’d just finished my mix tape, but I was sending my demo to everyone. At the same time I wouldn’t say I was looking for a deal. I wanted more of a mentorship. I just wanted to get my stuff out there.”

Moz Kid. Picture: LUNGAMAC'D

After he sent the demo to Mabala he started getting followers from people from within the label, including their A&R. Then the A&R e-mailed him to say that they’d call him soon for a meeting.

He also had a request from another label to meet and discuss a potential deal. But he took the deal with Mabala.

The transition hasn’t been all rosy, but it’s taken a huge load off his shoulders. “It was really tough, but when you’ve been independent your whole life, it’s all you know. I have to be honest and say that my parents’ finances helped a lot because I was able to do a lot of things.”

Thanks to this helping hand, he was able to get publicity when he needed it, get a big feature when he needed one, and shoot music videos when necessary.

His biggest feature to date came last year when he got Riky Rick to jump on his song, I Wanna Know.

“Riky Rick is an amazing guy. I used to send him e-mails when I was in Grade 8 or 9. He wasn’t as big as he is now but I always looked up to him.”

He’s also drawn inspiration from South African heavyweight rappers Cassper Nyovest and AKA. Further north, he looks up to the likes of Nigerian artists Burna Boy, Davido and WizKid.

His focus is set on releasing singles while he finishes his first album, probably in a year’s time.

“It’s been a crazy transition man,” he said of penning his deal with Mabala Noise. It’s very different to being independent I feel like after the whole artist development phase, we’ll start pushing.”

Moz Kid. Picture: LUNGAMAC'D

He’s got several big features lined up and he’s confident of building some solid momentum going into 2018.

With the notable achievement of having been named a Hype Freshmen for 2017 by acclaimed hip-hop magazine Hype, he’s hoping for yet more success.