The inaugural Hip Hop Kaslam Spaza Awards are upon us. A ceremony to recognise and celebrate the South African hip hop sub-genre will take place at The Baxter Theatre on Saturday.

The show is directed by Hip Hop Kaslam NGO member, Archie “Dat” Sopazi (pictured) who is credited as one of the pioneers of Spaza.

Many of you will be familiar with a sub-genre of hip hop called Motswako. Sprouting from the North West and giving us artists like Stoan (Bongo Maffin), Baphixile, Morafe and more, Motswako has been described as rapping in Tswana and English, and street colloquialisms.

But what exactly is Spaza?

Dat says: “It’s hip hop delivered in our own language. The hip hop that was introduced to us was from America so we took it and made it our own. We use slang and our own languages.

“Spaza is seen as hip hop in Xhosa because we live in a region where Xhosa is the dominant language. Capetonians gave it that name, but in the Transkei the same thing is called something else, just like in other places it’s called Motswako.”

Spaza is said to have been on the rise for more than a decade now but what has been the delay?

“The first album to truly penetrate the mainstream was Bread and Butter by Rattex,” explains Dat.

“Spaza has always been underground from the mid-1990s. Because of the situation in the country in the 1990s, we had this dream of the rainbow nation so a lot of music the corporates and mainstream focused on was about partying and drinking.

“But Spaza has always been music that had social commentary and the mainstream doesn’t want to hear music about real issues. The mainstream may not have accepted Spaza back then, but the people always do.”

The people will get to support their favourite artists who will vie for top honours in nine categories: Best Spaza Video, Album, Beatmaker, Group, Lyricist, Performer, Song, Male and Female Artist.

The Best Spaza Album nominees are: Bread and Butter by Rattex, Nam by Sugah, Mabatshe by Vegita and On Toes by Dat. Predictably, there will be some people who see a conflict in Dat not only being involved in the ceremony as a director, but also performing and being nomi- nated. This is something he isn’t oblivious to.

“I don’t decide who wins,” Dat says. “There is a panel [that includes Spaza fans, industry insiders and event organisers] for that. I’m a Spaza artist so where else would I be nominated for an award if not here?” he laughs.

“I’m just directing what’s going on on stage.”

That will include performances by Sylvia Bulelwa Ntlantlu, DSO and more.

The one thing Dat wants people to know about Spaza is “it’s the future of this country. Everyone from France to Israel makes hip hop in their own language so it’s an international thing. There’s no use in ignoring it; it’s here to stay.”

• The Hip Hop Kaslam Awards will be held at The Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch on Saturday from 5pm. Tickets are R40 at Computicket and at the box office.