There are few things in the entertainment world that have any vestiges of individuality in the 21st century. To the untrained eye and ear, Brittany Spears may as well be Christina Aguilera, who may as well be Shakira, who may as well be Cameron Diaz, who may as well be some button-nosed actress from Beverly Hills 90210.
In South Africa, as in the States, there seems to be a malaise in certain genres of music where "conform" is the only way to go. The fans expect it, the record companies expect it and this makes the artists hesitant to honestly express themselves. Kwaito, gospel and maskandi are just three examples of genres which dictate strict parameters.
In fact, SA hip-hop and jazz are two of the very few genres where the music is open to experiment and lateral creativity. Sadly, aside from Skwatta Kamp and Pitch Black Afro, the rest aren't selling as well as the media make out. It's all hype really.
Then along came Morafe. They are currently riding an unprecedented wave of popularity with two tracks on Metro FM's top 20 and high rotation on other radio stations.
Why is their popularity unprecedented? Well, precisely because they don't conform. Firstly they come from Mafikeng (WHO comes from Mafikeng besides farmers?).
They fuse R&B and hip-hop with influences of kwaito (very few SA artists have done that, never mind successfully). They sing in Tswana with smatterings of English (you gotta sing in more popular official languages like Xhosa, isiZulu, Sotho or tstotsi taal if you're gonna appeal to the SA youth market).
"We are free spirits," say the three members of Morafe over a tequila lunch in Melville. "We go against the fear."
Towdee, Kaygee and Khuli (pictured below) have been close friends and fellow rappers since 1995. "We started off as bedroom rappers when kwaito was really good and popular.
But in Mafikeng - because we were into rap - the other kids considered us rebels."This did not deter them - if anything, it encouraged them to experiment with their own individuality.
The path led them to producer Thaso (he of Zola's Bhambatha, among others) who is also from the area. He agreed to produce their first album.
By this stage Morafe had already conceived a trilogy of albums. The first is the debut album (which was released last month) called Maru a Pula - The Anticipation followed by A Ene - The Revelation and ending off with E Nele - The Celebration. The concept is self explanatory. But now that the boys have put together such an ambitious plan, what if it fails?
"That's what we're trying to find out," they smile philosophically. "Music is the loudest voice and besides which, we're from Mafikeng. Anything could happen."
Something has already happened. I witnessed it first hand when they performed at the Nokia Jammin Youth Day concert recently. They performed on the second stage to wild applause.
Then, because Spykos was running late, they were bumped up to the main stage: 40 000 people were way impressed and almost all of them knew the music. This, after only a few weeks of airplay!
It could be a sign that SA music fans are prepared to take that next step towards accepting music that overtly experiments with more than one sound.
It could also mean that Morafe may just hit the big time, even if they do sing in Tswana! "More than anything, we want to be different," say Morafe.