DJ Kenzhero. Picture: Supplied

Known as one of the pioneers on the South African hip hop DJ scene, DJ Kenzhero, real name Kenneth Nzama, has been infusing soul, funk and jazz to attract a wide variety of listeners.

He has shared the stage with Mos Def, Dead Pres, Dwele and Bahamadia, and has been DJing across the country and overseas in New York, São Paulo and Stockholm.

He co-hosts the Sound Supreme sessions on Kaya FM and is co-owner of the double-storey restaurant/bar Untitled/TheArtivist in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

DJ Kenzhero will be one of many acts performing at the 24-hour Littlegig festival in Stellenbosch this weekend, so we chatted to him beforehand.

How do you think the mumble rap has changed the hip hop scene?

I think it’s taken away the art of poetry and word play, otherwise known as emceeing.

What impact do you think the crossover of hip hop and pop has had hip hop culture?

It was inevitable that the two were going to meet. The rise of hip hop meant it going mainstream.

I think the crossover has created more acknowledgement of hip hop to the common man and woman.

With the surge of Gqom music and it’s integration with popular culture, how do you think this has influenced club culture?

It has taken over a chunk of the club culture. It has room to grow and morph into other sounds.

Also, it has the potential to be big internationally. For now, though, it’s taken on.

What are you expecting from the Littlegig crowd?

I stopped thinking about that approach, because it can mess with your preparation, if anything. I always bring a stash of sets – and an open mind.

What’s the difference between having a set at a festival and having one at a club?

Clubs are more intimate and you can touch and feel the vibe. Festivals can be cold and distant, which requires one to dig deep to entertain. Littlegig is a crowd of 1 500 so is intimate by festival standards.

Do you think South African hip hop has reached its peak, and if so why?

It still has room to grow – like reaching bigger African and international markets – and maybe it has reached its highest peak now.

there is room to grow. Look where Jabba put the bar. Look where AKA took it to, now look at Cassper. One always thinks “okay the current guy can’t go any further than this” until someone comes along and takes things even further.

Who do you think are up-and-coming artists who we should be looking out for?

Melo B Jones.

Who are your favourite local and international hip hop artists, and why?

This can take a while. Recently, I have been enjoying Tyler, The Creator’s album as well as Ivan Eve from Norway.
Locally, I like Khuli Chana and Jabba and I like what Kwesta has done to the SA Sound signature.

What can we expect from your set at Littlegig?

Hhmmm, fun.