Xhosa hip hop crew Driemanskap commemorate 20 years in the music industry. From left to right: Sonwabo Kambi, Bukhulubakhe Nompetsheni, Nande Mancunga and Elethu Mpengesi. Picture: iSkeem Semicimbi
Xhosa hip hop crew Driemanskap commemorate 20 years in the music industry. From left to right: Sonwabo Kambi, Bukhulubakhe Nompetsheni, Nande Mancunga and Elethu Mpengesi. Picture: iSkeem Semicimbi

Watch: Hip hop's Driemanskap celebrate 20 years of music

By Keshia Africa Time of article published May 16, 2021

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Popular hip hop Xhosa crew Driemanskap have been in the limelight and rapping in vernacular for 20 years. Stay true to what lead these stars to fame.

Hailing from Gugulethu, Nande Mancunga (Dla), Sonwabo Kambi (Ma-B), Bukhulubakhe Nompetsheni (Redondo) and Elethu Mpengesi (Elnino) all grew up in the same street, houses away from each other. The Xhosa hip hop crew spent many days practising their beats and lyrics but always considered their talents, a hobby.

One night in 2001, at Fezeka Secondary School, they decided to enter a talent search competition and ended up winning. It was here that they realised that this (the group) could become something.

The name Driemanskap originated from where they grew up.

“Afrikaans is a language that we use on the Cape Flats, in the hood. Everywhere in the area, you will hear people calling their friends, their ‘manskap’. We wanted the name that we chose to represent ourselves, to be relevant yet still trendy,” Dla said.

Although the number of crew members have fluctuated over the years, they decided to keep the name as is.

“Driemanskap is what we have established ourselves as. It is a family, it is our brand and it is what people know,” he said.

Dla expressed his appreciation for the work that they do, after reflecting on what the last 20 years have been like. The gifted rapper remembers facing a multitude of challenges in the industry.

“We have had our fair share of trials. Having to put four perspectives together into one shared vision was not easy, but we stuck to the objective and believed in the dream we always had.”

The first official gig that Driemanskap performed at was in 2005 when they opened for American hip hop duo Dead Prez.

Another stand out career highlight for Dla, was when they toured Sweden as part of cultural exchange.

“We got to be representatives of South Africa and we were treated like kings! It showed us the value of the work that we do and opened our minds as artists. It is an opportunity we will always be grateful for.”

Two decades in the industry and the message that these artists want to share with the world, has not changed.

“Music is a calling and we are always preaching the gospel of hope. We know the social ills that we are faced with, and we want to show people that there is hope.”

This week, Driemanskap launched a music video for Redondo's track, School of Hardknocks, on which they all featured. From start to finish, the entire process was a collaborative effort from all the group members.

“The vision for this music video was built from the lyrics. We got to include talent from our own neighbourhood and it was an experience of diversity and also one of sacrifice,” Dla said.

Driemanskap enjoyed being able to express themselves creatively for the, ’School of Hardknocks’ music video. Picture: Luvo Marenene

Redondo, who spearheaded the music video project, wanted the music video to have a hardcore grimy feel, as the song shines a light on the challenges they have faced in their music career.

Driemanskap celebrated 20 years of music with the launch of their new track, ’School of Hardknocks’. Picture: Luvo Marenene

The talented musicians want young aspiring artists to know that “good food takes time to prepare”. Driemanskap had never imagined that their talent would bring them this far in life or that it had this much longevity.

To celebrate their 20 years in the industry, they want to give back to the arts. Dla and Redondo shared that they plan to host workshops alongside motivational speakers and talented local artists.

They aim to educate and empower kids in the neighbourhood.

“We cannot let all our experiences go to waste,” Dla added.

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