Rapper Riky Rick rides new wave of kwaito

Riky Rick's latest album titled, "Family Values", features collaborations with Black Motion and Zano.

Riky Rick's latest album titled, "Family Values", features collaborations with Black Motion and Zano.

Local hip hop artist Riky Rick, born Rikhado Makhado, has finally found his place under the spotlight. For a while he was the guy producing music for musicians like MXO and L-Tido.

Some may have been introduced to Rick’s music through his 2011 single, Barbershop, featuring Da LES. Mail & Guardian caught up with Rick to talk about his new album, Family Values. Dressed in a black and white tracksuit, he sits on his couch in his Johannesburg home and adjusts his reversed cap. He just had an early morning TV interview and looks like he could do with a few more hours of sleep. But this is all in a day’s work.

The rapper/producer/actor has been working in the music industry since 2006. His passion for making music was ignited while he was studying film and production at AFDA. He started out recording music with his friends and soon decided to take up rapping as a career. While the interest in kwaito has decreased, the pool of local hip hop acts has widened over recent years with hip-hop artists now infusing their sound with 1990s kwaito samples.

Rick is one of the new school hip-hop artists who, just like KO and Cassper Nyovest, have a sound that’s heavily influenced by kwaito.  

Rick however tells the M&G that he prefers not to mix kwaito with hip hop in his songs, but rather stick to kwaito in its purest form. “My album doesn’t have that kwaito sound. It’s a soulful album mixed with a progressive sampling style.

“I produce everything; I produce kwaito, hip hop, and house. So for me it doesn’t really make a difference what genre it is. I mixed up all the genres I grew up on and most of us grew up on the kwaito, so we mix the kwaito elements inside the stuff we do also. But I make pure Kwaito beats … I’m not really blending kwaito.”

In Family Values, he raps over house and EDM beats and features collaborations with artists such Okmalumkookat, Nyovest and Black Motion. Rick produced most of the songs on the album.

His life story
With the current wave of localised lyrics aimed at the South African market, Rick counts on his life story, that’s retold in the album, to sell his music. He insists he didn’t alter his sound to appeal to the masses.

He began recording material for Family Values in 2014 but waited until April to release it. “I just felt that now was the right time to release an album. I didn’t think people were ready for my album last year,” he says. Throughout the album he addresses things that he values the most, such as his relationship with his parents, the mother of his son, Maik and peers.

A broken relationship between a father and son is a recurring theme in the album – in songs such as Papa Song and Thuglife. Rick’s father also pops up often in the album. He raps about missing his late father and what he wishes he could say to him in the songs A Time To Love and Papa Song. Being a father himself, the KwaMashu-born rapper credits Maik for motivating him to work harder. Maik also appears on Rick’s album cover; a cover he was accused of copying from the US rapper The Game. But he is not fazed by negative feedback and chooses to focus on his music instead.

The rapper sleeps less these days and relaxing at home is not on his schedule at the moment, he tells M&G. 

I was just a quiet kid at the back of the class/ now I’m dream chasing hoping/ I sleepless, he raps in A Time To Love.

“There is no relaxing; it’s just work all the time, which is hectic. Right now we are still trying to make a name for ourselves. I haven’t had anything to do to relax in a while.” 

The lyrics of Wonder Years best describes his current lifestyle: So while they’re turning up I’m turning down cause life is getting crazy/ my baby need me around. /I used to love to party but fuck it/ it nearly killed me./ Found God now I’m happy I know the real me

In all the years he has been producing music, it is only now that he feels comfortable with the music he puts out.  The hours spent in the recording studio and hopping from city to city, show to show, are bearing visible fruits for Rick. He was nominated for a 2015 Sama in the Remix of the Year category for his hit single Amantombazane featuring various artists.

He recently released the video for his single Boss Zonke and the next step is promoting his follow-up single, Sondela featuring Zano – a love song dedicated to his girlfriend. The single has already been received warmly by fans and it’s easy to see why it’s a favourite on the album, so far. Family Values gives fans an insight into the rapper’s life. He bares his soul and allows his fans into his personal space and also allows them to see his vulnerable side. A change from the champagne popping and club scene lyrics associated with new school hip hop. 

In Sondela he expresses just how much he values the love he receives from his girlfriend, over money. You are the only one that I need/Baby you the best that I had/I love you cause you made me dad/I love you deeply baby baby.

Rick has taken to the streets to sell some of his album copies. This is his way of making his music accessible to his fans.  “When you put out an album it’s not a time to be cool. It’s like for these two to three months you’ve got to put your head down and run.”

Katlego Mkhwanazi

Katlego Mkhwanazi

Katlego Mkhwanazi is the Mail & Guardian's arts, culture and entertainment content producer. She started her career in magazines, before joining the Mail & Guardian team in 2014. She is an entertainer at heart. Read more from Katlego Mkhwanazi


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