Hip hop raps on Jazz Fest’s door

By Helen Herimbi Time of article published Mar 14, 2012

Share this article:

For a festival with the word “jazz” in the title, it seems odd for a hip hop artist to be on the bill. But for some people, this is music to their ears.

This year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival will see five hip hop acts mount the various stages. Air punch.

Brace yourself for Hip Hop Pantsula, Jean Grae, Ill Skillz, Atmosphere and Pharoahe Monch.

Since Jill Scott ditched the fest for a movie role, it’s been rumoured that Gnarls Barkley singer and The Voice judge, Cee Lo, who comes from a hip hop background having been |a member of Goodie Mob, will perform instead of Jilly from Philly.

While we’re not mad at the possibility of that, we’re excited about the acts who haven’t changed their minds about playing at the Mother City’s premiere music event. Here’s the 411 on who they are.

As a group, Ill Skillz (aka Ill-Literate Skillz) are no strangers to Mzansi hip hop in general and to the Cape Town scene in particular.

Originally comprised of Tommy Jinxx and Jimmy Flexx, the back-|packer rappers were then joined by DJ ID (who also throws the Kool Out Lounge and Kool Out Live events) and became a force to be reckoned with.

The ambitious trio endeavoured to record an entire album (complete with collaborations), mix and master it and perform the new |songs all in 24 hours.

The day-long mission resulted in an album called Skillz that Pay the Billz and was well received.

Ill Skillz repeated this process on Skillz that Pay the Billz 2, only this time it was recorded at London’s Red Bull Studios.

Born in SA and raised in the US, Tsidi Ibrahim, more popularly known as Jean Grae, is the daughter of Sathima Bea Benjamin and Abdullah Ibrahim. She has rapped with and produced for The Roots, Atmosphere, Pharoahe Monch and Immortal Technique.

Signed to Talib Kweli’s Blacksmith record company, Jean has released a six albums, a mix tape (Cookies or Comas, hosted by DJ Drama) and is due to release the highly anticipated Cake Or Death album later this year.

Hip Hop Pantsula needs no introduction. So we won’t give him one.

Okay, I’m kidding, come back here. He first broke onto the scene with a mellow track called How You Feel and went on to put Motswako on the musical map. The Sama winner won the hearts of the nation when he took home the trophy in Strictly Come Dancing.

HHP, whose real name is Jabulani Tsambo, also has six albums under his belt and, most notably for hip hop heads, managed to score a verse from the hip hop icon, Nas, for his Dumela double-disc album.

Proving there is longevity in hip hop, Atmosphere are another highly anticipated act on the Jazz Fest’s line-up. Having been together for more than two decades, producer and DJ Ant, as well as rapper Slug, have toured extensively in the US and are finally going to touch down in the Mother City.

You thought I was going to say Motherland, didn’t you?

Atmosphere’s brand of alter-|native hip hop hasn’t brought them millions in the bank but, as dis-|covered with their fifth out of seven albums, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold it’s brought them long-winded titles. And a large fanbase.

Pharoahe Monch has enjoyed the adoration of throngs of fans since he told ladies to “rub on your ti**ies” in Simon Says.

With a groundbreaking third album, W.A.R (We Are Renegades), Pharoahe has cemented his place in the annals of hip hop as one of the forward-thinking wordsmiths of our time.

What would have been great for the Jazz Festival-goers would have been to have Pharoahe and Scott on one stage when he performs the album’s closer, Still Standing,|which features the powerful vocalist.

Oh well, at least we’re crossing fingers to see Pharoahe and Jean perform Assassins together.

Over the years, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has hosted some of the best hip hop artists in the world.

Having people such as Mos Def, who now goes by the name Yassin Bey, perform can either turn out to be a real treat for people who made their way from any corner of the globe to watch the Patty Austen Trio, or Hugh Masekela, or any other jazz greats, or it can be frowned upon.

But the great thing about the festival is that there is never only one person on one stage. If hip hop isn’t your thing, there are other acts to marvel at.

• The Cape Town International Jazz Festival takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on March 30 and 31. Get your tickets at Computicket.

Share this article: