Own The Block, South Africa's first official street rap battle league, is the brainchild of Cape Town-born rapper Riyadh Roberts aka YoungstaCPT and high school friend, Tyler “The Instigator” Koopman.
YoungstaCPT and Tyler recognised the need to grow the rap industry and provide a platform for young, talented MCs who were being ignored by big-name record labels. In 2016 they came up with the idea to replicate the street rap battle leagues that are so popular in the US.
Battles take place on street corners and at various popular locations around Cape Town - in the ‘ghettos’, suburbs and townships where the crowd decides the winner by applause. The line-up and venue are announced on Own The Block's social media platforms and spread by word of mouth by an ever-increasing group of followers.
Since late last year, Own The Block has signed a number of local rappers and these MCs have steadily been building a following which could see OTB become a household name. Many of these rappers have been honing their talent in their townships for years without being able to break into the industry.
Michael "Mykey" Jannecke from Mitchell's Plain uses hip-hop to share his experiences growing up in one of the largest drug and gang infested townships in Cape Town with young people. His aim is to positively inspire the youth to rise above their environment and pursue their dreams. Mykey is also the 2017 Own The Block #DontChokeRapChallenge champion where he was the last man standing in the 16-man rap battle competition which ran over several months.
Keanu “The Kulture” Daniels hails from Athlone and writes lyrics for other artists when he is not performing, writing or recording. He started rapping at the age of 14 and gained valuable experience with independent music production company Take Your Time (TyT) Productions. The Kulture is among a growing number of SA rappers who record, produce, distribute and promote their own product - giving them total control over their brand. His music is strongly rooted in addressing the social, economic and political imbalances of his people. He was the runner-up in the 2017 #DontChokeRapChallenge and has a large following on the Cape Flats.
Whether Kirwan "Sir Kir" Daniels from Matroosfontein's ‘mommy’ jokes are funny or not, his powerful punchlines and witty lyrics are guaranteed to entertain you and has gained him a notable fan base.
Kyle "KTH King" Travis Haupt has his musical roots firmly entrenched in Philippi and spits lyrics on a range of social issues ranging from crime to politics. The K.I.N.G in his name stands for Knowledge Is Neverending Growth and echoes his morals and values.
These young musicians are helping to grow YoungstaCPT and Tyler's vision of making street rap battles the new vehicle for the youth to gain the exposure which the music industry is just not equipped or willing to give them.
* For more on the OTB artists and the street battles, as well as videos of past battles, visit the Own The Block website or follow them on Twitter.