Atlas... ‘ordained by the heavens’ to spread the message of love, oneness and hope through song. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/ANA

‘I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” Up-and-coming rapper Atlas has taken this quote by hip hop legend Tupac Shakur to heart. He believes that he’s the one that was “sparked”.

“This is so synonymous with my beliefs, and not in so much as my music but also people liken me to Pac with regards to my robust (protest) against the system and lyrical content.”

Born Mpho Sebokgoe, Atlas says he is “ordained by the heavens” to spread the message of love, oneness and hope through song.

“My music is more than just entertainment; it is my ministry.”

The 34-year-old Soweto-born artist is not only a singer, but a songwriter, producer and motivational speaker as well.

“My music is thought-provoking. I touch on a lot of ills and I strongly believe I am ordained by the heavens and my life is a gift to humanity.”

Chatting to Atlas weeks before he drops his debut album The Frontier, the hip hop artist tells us about the challenges he has faced as an independent artist in a cutthroat music industry.

Atlas. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips

Signed under his own label Static Quo Incorporated, Atlas says it took him a month to record the 17-track studio album.

“The funny thing about this album is that it was all recorded between November and December last year - all the new tracks, except for the two that I have archived.”

Atlas insists that it’s through “revelation, grace, faith and a whole lot of reading” that he managed to record and master his album in just over a month.

Once signed to one of the leading recording labels in Mzansi, he says that it was that experience which inspired him to start his own record label after a deal went sour.

Atlas says he has no beef with the record owner, hence his request not to reveal the name of the record label.

“There are many challenges that I have encountered previously; mostly they are financial constraints, but I’m wiser and smarter now. I started my own label so I can manage myself and enjoy the freedom of being independent. I have signed two artists, who are siblings and are both featured in my album.”

Atlas. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips

Asked to pick three of his favourite tracks from his album, without hesitation, he says: Where is the Love, Guns No More and Pray On.

Where is the Love is dedicated to every girl child and every woman out there - it was inspired by (US RnB singer ) Leela James. With Guns No More, I say put away those guns but, again, I’m not voicing guns as tangible guns with bullets.

“The tongue, small as it might be, is dangerous because it lies, it destructs, it heals, it hurts.

“The same mouth that people can worship with, they can curse with.

“Then Pray On - this is where I’m trying to voice out my faith. I’m here to give rappers cold feet because this whole Christian thing is not a gimmick.

“You find an artist with 18 secular songs and the one gospel song to try to fit the whole theme. It’s not about theming here. It’s about what you’ve got. We need real life stories.”

* Connect with Atlas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on @AnointedAtlas.