Ishmael's havin' fun

The former Prophets of da City (POC) rapper and Skeem frontman, Ishmael, is a master of musical evolution, most recently having shed his smooth ‘n sexy R&B incarnation in favour of that of the raunchy, raucous kwaito icon he is today. His first kwaito album on Arthur’s 999 label, Roba Letheka, sold 100 000 copies and established him as a force to be reckoned with. His new record, Hakuna Mathata, is due out at the end of April and is sure to propel him to even greater heights.

What’s the low-down on Hakuna Mathata?

It’s a classic kwaito album with some good doses of house, gospel and R&B. It’s basically a lightweight, free-spirited party album. It’s nothing too deep, I was just having fun. The first single’s called Hallelujah, which is gospel with a kick, the kind of song you can party to in a club and in a church.

What made you cross over from R&B to kwaito?

Kwaito’s more of a liberating music for me. You can’t really be proud of R&B like you can of kwaito because kwaito’s something we own, it’s ours, whereas R&B still has that stigma of being an overseas import. I’m not dissing R&B — I still love it and will go back to it when I’ve made it properly mine and the country’s fully ready for it.

Will you ever go back to POC-style hip-hop/rap?

One day I’ll visit that scene again, but this time I wanna give hip-hop a lot more of an African identity. We might even see something interesting happening at Splashy Fen this weekend because I’m playing on the same night as Ready D (scratch-DJ extraordinaire and fellow ex-POC member) and we might just end up having a little impromptu jam together.

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