Standing outside Chaf Pozi, Red Button and I watch people scream with terror and then delight as they bungee jump from Soweto’s towers. He is adamant he won’t ever take that risk, but, musically, he’s taken a leap of his own.
In 2011, he released his debut album, Finally. Seven years later, he has finally released another body of work, an EP, Dark Knights. As the protégé of recently deceased hip-hop veteran, PRO, Red Button was not sure if he could come back to music after such a loss but he took the leap anyway.
“I met PRO (who he pays tribute to on the EP) in 2007,” Red Button recalls. “He saw my talent, rapping at places like Slaghuis. The first commercial song I was on was Mzekezeke’s Boss. At first, I wanted to rap just to prove a point. For people to say how dope I am. But the songs I was making then and the songs I was making even five years ago are very different. Now, I just want to make music.”
Dark Knights is a seven-track EP produced by the rapper. Red Button’s current single, Jabu Pule, is a tongue-in-cheek jam about being troublesome.
“It’s been a year of me performing that song,” he says. “My friend picked me up to take me to a performance and that chorus wouldn’t leave my mind. And then I performed that chorus at the gig and people loved it.
"But that just shows me that a song cannot rot. After releasing my album, I’d been releasing singles but sometimes the execution wasn’t proper and the songs wouldn’t go anywhere. So I decided to stop making singles and put out a longer body of work. That’s why I wanted to do this EP.”
On the title track, Red Button raps about warding off the pressures of life. He explains: “The first pressure is about looking at who is big and who is trending. Am I going to change who I am and start following trends? But I lift them up and listen to their music because I am not jealous of them.
“Then the second pressure is where reality hits. When I’m unable to make my kids happy, it’s something that reminds me of how my father was. I only reconnected with my father three years ago. He had another family and distanced himself.
“For 27 years, I’d been around my friends and they’d say they’re going to see their fathers and I couldn’t. So that pressure I speak of is about being present. I have to be there for my kids. Money is good but I have to be there.”
Dark Knights is a glimpse into Red Button’s life and the music is illuminating.
Buy or stream Red Button’s Dark Knights at online music stores.