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Interviews

‘No Witchcraft Formed Against Me Shall Prosper’ – Fifi Cooper

Exclusive interview with the First Lady of Motswako Fifi Cooper as she dispels all the rumours and alleged beef between the female rap fratenity.

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Fifi Cooper has been one of the most consistent female rapper for the better half of last year, churning out hit after hit so effortlessly. It came as no surprise when she was tagged for AKA’s smash hit Baddest Remix which featured arguably the most relevant female hip hop artists in the country at the time. No shade intended! Real name Refilwe Precious Mooketsi bares the burden of being the First Lady of Motswako, a genre that has given birth to Mzansi’s hip hop greats of late. We managed to chain her down for an interview where she revealed that her debut album 201FIFI will be certified platinum come hell or high water. Dive in!


QuenchSA: You were in an accident recently and you said ‘baloyi’ targeted you. Does your belief in witchcraft stretch beyond sarcastic humour?


Fifi Cooper: I don’t believe in that because I’m one person that prays and believes in God, but the North West people will understand that because we joke about it. It’s not taken literally.


QuenchSA: You are considered as the First Lady of Motswako. How important is your presence to the genre?


Fifi: As far as I know I’m the only female rapper doing Motswako. We only have the Kings, your Casspers, HHP, Khulis and I feel like with the title I deserve it because I’m the only female representing where we come from because Motswako originally comes from the North West, in Mahikeng.fifi-coooperQuenchSA: Your success as a female rapper has been without the added influence of ‘sex appeal’. Is that by design?


Fifi:  I grew up around boys, I have two brothers and being the last born I always around boys so showing skin is not something I’m used to. I grew up being comfortable wearing baggy jeans and loose tops, that’s just who I am. Originality is everything! Showing skin has a lot of disadvantages, if you are an upcoming artist who is scantily clad people will focus on your body more than your craft.


QuenchSA: It is an inextricable quality in hip hop universally to pit female emcees against one another. Is the battle to be recognized as the best femcee in the land part of your agenda?


Fifi: No! I avoid such things because I know how girls are as much as I’m a girl. I know that girls will always want to compete. Beefs and cat fights are just a waste of time because I have bigger dreams and I still want to go places. Its better for me to use my time to push my brand than fighting with people.


QuenchSA: Was the Baddest Remix representative of the best femcees in South  Africa?


Fifi: Not really! I didn’t take it like that. For me it was a huge step forward in my career, it was something I didn’t expect, I took it as ‘I’m actually being recognized out here and its not about being the best’. If you listen to my verse on that song, I’m actually quite chilled. Everyone came prepared, I was the only one who wrote their verse in the studio and I didn’t even feel the pressure because for me it wasn’t a competition. I just had fun with it.


QuenchSA: Has the success of female rappers in recent years leveled the playing field somewhat?


Fifi: To be honest the female rapper rally started really growing in 2015 and that’s when people started knowing my name. I feel like I’ve been the hardest working female rapper in the country in like I don’t know how many years. It is leveling because we also getting the same love as male rappers are getting. Its no longer male dominated, there’s a lot of female rappers who are doing so well, bringing in quality.


QuenchSA: Is your album’s success indicative of your crossover effect, transcending language barriers?


Fifi: I think the fact that the album is doing so good it can only show that the support is not only coming from home, its coming from all over the country. I can see even in my performances, when I got to Cape Town people sing along to my songs, when I go to Durban its the same thing.


QuenchSA: Do sale figures determine the success or failure of your first offering?


Fifi: It needs to be a successful album, its the first album and I worked hard on it. We still pushing the album, I’m a big dreamer and I believe that no matter how long it takes we going to reach gold and we are going to reach platinum. That’s just the way it is.

20fifi- fifi coooperQuenchSA: What wouldn’t Fifi fans find on the internet about you?


Fifi: They would definitely not find anything about my personal life, stuff like my relationships, my daily routine, I love being private. I want my personal life to remain private as much as my public side of things to be public.


QuenchSA: Does it get annoying to constantly be drawn to the whole female hip hop emcee debate?


Fifi: It’s actually annoying because if I had to choose between being called a female emcee or being called an emcee I’d prefer to be called an emcee because I don’t understand why we have to have that tag…I look at myself as a rapper.


QuenchSA: Who do you look up to in the industry?


Fifi: I look up to everyone who is working hard. If you work hard, it will show. Obviously hard work pays off. Hard work is what inspires me.


QuenchSA: Are you planning to have a public beef  with someone? Its worked for some people?


Fifi: No! You don’t plan that, it is something you don’t plan, if it just happens then it happens.


QuenchSA: What does 2016 hold for Fifi Cooper?


Fifi: I’m actually planning a lot of things, I’m still going to push my album, I’m looking at more international features, more videos are going to drop. Presenting is also one of the things I really love doing and I’m looking at that this year, I’ve been going to auditions so watch this space.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90cYwh2CE6I

Interviews

INTERVIEW: Prince Kaybee Talks EMAs, World Domination and Retiring In Flip Flops

In this exclusive interview, the 30 year old house music dab hands reveals how discipline and a killer work ethic are behind his success.

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Prince Kaybee exclusive Interview 2019
Photo Credit: Supplied

Some want to retire with a crown. When Prince Kaybee retires, though, he envisions himself with a cigar, whiskey and flip flops. But until then, “it’s crunch time!”

It’s for this reason that he believes people spend too much time busking in the light of their short lived glories, instead of plotting their next move. Rather than waste time amplifying his own milestones, the award winning producer has spent as much time as possible in the studio, where he engineers his sprawling catalogue.

That’s how he’s been at the top for more than five years.

Yet despite churning out a slew of blockbuster street anthems, he still ducks being dubbed an industry leader. “I still have a lot of work to do”, he says, masterminding his looming adventure into the global music market, where he intends to deliver his sound to new audiences.

The plan to conquer the world informs the creative genesis for his recently released Crossover EP, the official manifesto for his campaign to soar to new dimensions.

The house music architect had a clear plan, along with a milkshake in his hands, when we met with him to unpack his new chapter.

Congratulations on your EMA nomination for ‘Best African Act’. How does it feel to be recognised at that level?

It feels great and it’s been a long time coming, you know? It is great for the culture. I feel like I have a responsibility and an EMA is not an individual thing, it’s a South African thing.  Even with the Nasty C nomination, I feel like I have won because that is another platform where we need to represent African music. So it feels great because I look at myself in the mirror and be like, ‘yes we did it!’ But looking at the bigger picture… it’s all about Africa and what we are doing to win.

What does it mean for you to be an African artist in 2019?

It means a lot because we have been through a lot and we have seen people come and go. The past two years have been the most competitive. Looking at what is going on, like music is improving so much so that it is no longer about having one hit song in an album and all the other fifteen be wack.

People actually put in a lot of effort with the whole body of work. Like, you literally sit in and listen to an album and just drive… it’s no longer about just one hit. To answer your question, it feels great because everyone is putting in the work. You feel worthy of something that is part of the collective, or industry peers, that lead the industry.

With people coming in, blowing up, and some disappearing just as quick, how do you maintain the momentum and keep growing?

I don’t understand why artist are at the club all the time. I don’t understand why 90% of the time you are doing things that are not aligned with music when you are an artist, you know? Take a doctor for example. Would you wanna hire a wack doctor? This is your health! You would hire someone who is qualified for that, right? So what do these people do to be qualified?

It’s what they do they in the office from nine to five. I have a schedule as a musician; I have a nine to five. I get at the studio at nine in the morning and leave at 5pm. You won’t find me in the studio after that, except only when I have juicy stuff flowing. But I know my times and I know I have to be there every day. Some artists get in the studio on Monday and they literally leave and come back two months later.

For you to be consistent you actually have to work on your art constantly and give it attention. That’s the only way to do it and that is it. You can read the most expensive book on how to sustain yourself and whatever, but you have to go back to the basic rule of putting in the work because what you put in is what you get out.

Let’s talk about the transition from Re Mmino to The Cross Over EP. You have said that this EP represents a ‘new you’. Who is he and how does he differ from the old Kaybee?

It’s not necessarily a new image, new me or whatever, it is just a crossover of the genre within the genres. I’m doing something different… something outside the norm.

How do you select your collaborators?

Talent is talent, there is no two ways about it. If you work, I will tell you if you are good, let’s work. Why not? If your energy is great… and if you are positive and have certain morals in understanding the principles that I agree with, let’s work. Overall it’s talent but the energy is very important because the studio is a happy place.

This EP aligns with your intentions to venture into the global market. Tell us more about that goal?

As a brand that has done so much in South Africa, I feel like it is now time to say ‘cool guys let’s explore.’ Other people are fine (with keeping it local). There is nothing wrong with that, but I feel I want to cross over and the narrative is as is, crossing over and changing the sound, a bigger audience and letting the European people and that market know about our sound.

When I cross over it does not mean I am going to feature global artists only. I will be crossing over with artists from South Africa. On the EP as well, 90% of artists are South African even though the genre is different.

You’ve said you feel you have done everything to be done in South Africa. What has been your biggest milestone so far?

I don’t think I have a specific one. Like, everything has played a role in itself. I really don’t because since 2015 when I started mainstreaming, I can’t single out just one thing, you understand? Everything makes sense in its growth… it’s the people who interview us,  my family, the music ,the fans… You can’t single out shit.

Do you feel like the biggest artist in South Africa right now?

No!

Then who is?

There are a lot of guys who are doing huge things, like Sun El Musician is a good artist for me. Samthing Soweto is dope. And because I listen to a lot of House Music, I am gonna list a lot of House artists… but there are a lot of artists in the industry who literally shook everything, like Sjava, Sho Madjozi etc. A lot of industry peers are doing great. I feel I am nowhere near, I still have a lot of work to do.

In terms of your transformation, was the change in your look – the fitness and chopping off the dreadlocks – part of your bigger plan?

No, no, no! It isn’t. Remember, you cannot separate. Some people think sometimes I am Kabelo and other times I am Prince Kaybee, but there is no way of separating the two. There is no difference between the brand and the person because you just can’t bro! I feel like when I am on Twitter and type, it’s Kabelo and Prince Kaybee typing at the same time. Everything that I do is for the brand – gym, the change… It’s a reinvention. It’s an on-going challenge of bettering yourself as a person, you know?

Word! You are at top right now. What advice would you give to up and coming artists about getting there?

I don’t know the formula. If I had I would literally give it up. But there is one principle, which is, what you put in is what you get out. This applies to everyone; musicians, journalists, whatever… A lot of artists, especially the young ones that are coming up, they don’t believe in being in the studio every time. Once you have an album out you have to celebrate for six months. Bro, you don’t need to celebrate anything! The only time that celebrations come is when you retire.  When I retire I don’t give a shit where I am, I will always have my cigar because I have done my part. I will have my cigar and whiskey, in my flip flops. I won’t even wear sneakers.

But now it is crunch time bro! I don’t go out on vacations and I don’t go out not because I intend not to do that, I am having fun while working, so that I don’t feel like am straining myself. It’s crunch time. Let’s not start celebrating and blowing our own horns. When you win an award stop telling us for the next 5 years. Forget that award and win another. The young ones are too tied to little accomplishments. I always say one hit song doesn’t guarantee you a career. Look at things from that perspective.

With everything you’ve done, what is the ultimate goal you are still chasing? Say, something you will be proud of with the cigar and whiskey and flip flops?

I want to get my mom a house she has never imagined. I can afford one now but I am looking at a very homey house. Then I will be done done.

End. 

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Interviews

DJ Mshega Talks New Music, Power Collabos and Amapiano – INTERVIEW

The record producer promises an album five times better than his critically lauded debut.

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Exclusive Interview with DJ Mshega

Dj Mshega has set his eyes on a big musical year, and it shows. The Criminal hitmaker, who’s currently adding final touches to his looming sophomore album, has recently dished out no less than two new summer bangers to mark his triumphant return to the soundscape.

Hurricane and How Do You Feel find Holly Rey and Ziyon lavishing rich summer sonics with soul stirring vocals.

We caught up with Mshega for an exclusive interview, in which he remembers how his brother’s passing sparked the genesis of his love for music.

With a new single out, I imagine you must be super busy right now…

Yeah, with everything involved in promoting that. I’m also actually wrapping up the rest of my album so it is a busy time.

You first album did so well. Is a sophomore slump not a concern with the new project?

No! I’m not fearful at all. I rest in the confidence that I do all that I can and give my all, you know? When I reflect on the work I’ve put in what’s coming I’m happy. It’s definitely a step up. The whole sound is going to another level so I am really happy about the hard work that has been poured in. It’s been about two years working on the album.

One of the more notable characteristics about you as a record producer is the quality of the sound. Everything is done masterly and keeps the strong element of melody and musicality. Where does that come from?

I’d like to think it comes from the time when I got introduced to music… to House music. Like, people who were around me – my mentors, like Louie Vega, Dj Spinner and all these artists… they were really, really good!

Their music was great overall. Vocally, sonically and otherwise. That’s how I knew. It’s remained the one quality that I never look past when I’m making music. Whether it be drum, or bass, soulful, electro… the principle remains the same and carries through how I approach making music.

You’ve taken us back to some of your inspirations back in the day. Can you remember that moment when you decided this is really want you want to spend your life doing?

I think that happened the very day I was introduced to music. It happened when I got exposed to DJing and I just knew. Until then I had been playing soccer.

One day I was playing soccer in the streets and my brother popped in carrying a device called a mixer. I didn’t know what it was at the time but I was already very intrigued by it.

As he walked in, I followed him. When I arrived in his room he had connected the device and was playing a record, some house joint… (sings Keith Thompson – Living On the Front Line, Victor Simonelli).

I was just like, “what is this?” That moment drew me in. I didn’t know what he was playing but it sounded so beautiful.

Is that when you started putting in the work on your DJing craft?

No, not right away. Unfortunately, a few months after that my brother passed on. He was 18 years old by then. I decided I am going to carry on from where he left off and push this thing because he loved it. I didn’t know how far I was gonna go but it really felt right.

How did you decide to collaborate with Holly Rey?

She’s super fresh!  How it came about… Well, after she dropped Deeper, which was a beautiful record, I started getting ideas.

Just ideas on different shades we could do with her on something easy and blissful. It was based on that, just hearing this dope record and being like, “hey, we could make something else that’s different, cool and easy. After that I approached her in the DMs, and she was game. She actually flew in from Durban to record Hurricane in the studio.

How did you decide for Hurricane to be the first single?

That’s a tricky question. Well, the record sounds really simple and easy. It’s a summer love song and we really thought, seeing we are going into the spring, now would really make sense to drop a record for this season. Hurricane really fits the season. All the songs in the project are amazing but this was the summer jam.

Amapiano have really blown up in the last couple of years. What do you think of genre? Would you want to mess around there?

I want to say shout out to Amapiano and the makers because they have come a long way. For anything to come from nothing and become something you must have worked hard. You can’t take that away, you know?

I think the music reflects our culture and what we relate to. We can’t but hear those old Kwaito instruments. For me it’s not such a new thing, it’s just been reproduced in the modern way, which is really cool.

Tell us everything we need to know about your upcoming album. What can your fans expect?

With the upcoming album fans can expect a step up from The Contribution. Probably like 5 steps up, because there’s a lot of time and effort that has been put into the project. We’ve got some exciting artists like Holly Rey, Naak Music, Nomcebo, Dominic….

The list goes on! The album reflects what I’ve gone through since The Contribution, and that’s what I love; that people will be hearing something that’s literally from my heart straight to them for their pure enjoyment. They can expect bangers man!

Any particular song you can’t wait for them to hear?

It’s unfair to pick out a record because with this project every song is special and I wouldn’t pick that one over that one. I would rate them the same because there is the same amount of energy put into each and every song. I love those all songs but for now the one that stands out… There’s a song called Impilo with Nomcebo!

Is that possibly the next single?

I don’t know. We were blessed with so many bangers in this project and we are struggling to choose what we going to put up next.

Obviously that’s a really good place to be?

Yes! That’s why am like, unfortunately we don’t know and we want to leave it to the people to decide what they want to put out…

What are you still hoping to do in your career?

W the plan with me is I wanna take over the world, as long as I breath I want to push to the highest, most possibly reach. With my career, I definitely wanna go global, that’s the ultimate goal …

End. 

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Interviews

Donald On New Album, Staying Real And Policy on Fueds – INTERVIEW

In this exclusive interview with QuenchSA, Donald shares his ambitions to become an icon, and more!

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Donald recently delighted fans with the arrival of his latest album, Her Name Is?

The 20-track project, which boasts high-powered collaborations with the likes of DJ Tira, Thabsie and amongst others Mlindo The Vocalist, marks the singer’s triumphant return to the zeitgeist. “I’ve done this five times”, he says of the gruelling schedule that comes with album releases.

He’s a Pro by now, but those early mornings just never get easier. The machinations that come with promoting a new album require an element of athleticism. 

What most find intriguing about Donald is his evergreen presence in the culture. He’s managed to stay on top of his game without switching his sound to appease the market. “I don’t try to be relevant, I just do what feels good to me”, he tells QuenchSA, explaining how he’s kept true to his sound despite the ever shifting landscape.

We caught up with singer and conversed about the new album, the tricks of the trade sustaining his relevance and the pains that attend to being an artist.

The album recording process is done and it’s onto the promotional aspect. I imagine your schedule is different right now… 

Yeah,  which means few hours of sleep!

…But I hear artists are very nocturnal, creating mainly during the night. Is that true? 

Yeah, but now I am not creating much as I’m in the promo phase. It becomes harder because I have to try and sleep early, which I’m not used to.

Because it’s performance season? 

Yeah, like you have to wake up early. Sometimes I will have like 6’o clock  and 7 o’clock call times. For me it’s tough, but I think so far I have received great practice because I’ve been doing this for a while now. This is my fifth album. So I have done this five times already in the past ten years.

I mean, you are an expert… 

(laughs) I am getting better!

You have been around for a long time and you are still creating. People blow up and disappear. How do you do it? 

Ey man… I think one of the things that are mainly important is to keep the main thing the main thing. I try not to do too many things because I want to focus on one thing and make sure I do it perfectly. I think knowing what your bigger goal is helps you to be able to deal with the every day movement. I know my bigger goal is to be a South African music legend and have a legacy.

When I am gone people can look back and be like “Eish! mara this guy, this guy’s career was such a story…” You know? I really want to be that guy. I want people to look at me the way they look at Oskido, Hugh Masikela, Jonas Gwangwa, Mariam Makeba etc…

You’ve stayed true to your sound. How are you able to be so resilient to the obvious temptation to jump on a new wave that sells? 

I’ve noticed that trying to stay relevant is not easy to achieve. So don’t try to stay relevant, just focus on having a story to tell at that moment. Tell it the best way you know. Artists who are known for what they do specifically are those artists you will always remember.

When you say a name like Thandiswa Mazwai, you don’t even have to ask. You can just tell through her voice even, if it’s a new song. How she achieved that was by always being herself and not trying to fit in. I think I’m that type of artist. I don’t try to fit in, I do what feels good to me…

I think you’ve reached that level too, in some ways. One can look at a young artist and be like, ‘Oh, he’s the next Donald’. There’s definitely a distinct identity you have. 

I hear those conversations a lot, especially when Idols comes on air! Like, I always hear a Donald reference. I think last week Somizi was commenting on a contestant and made reference to a ‘Donald-like thing’ in the conversation. It’s always humbling and encouraging to hear people saying stuff like that.  That there is a thing about you that you have that everybody knows. It tells me whatever I’ve been through, including the pain, was not in vain.

What kind of pain have you been through?

Things don’t always work out the way you have planned, you know? You come across challenges, and I have came across a lot. You can ask anyone who sings and who is successful. They will tell you about the challenges because to be successful, you have to be challenged the most and the challenges don’t determine who you are but they make you strong and you always get better, no matter  how hard it is.  I am inspired by people who go all out to be achievers… like Bonang. I can relate. Like, I see myself in her and I know how much pain that woman has to go through. The struggles and challenges you don’t see.

You’ve have kept a very clean brand’, is that intentional or is that like are authentic reflection of you character?

I mean, a part of it is…the intentional part of it is not to share too much of my personal life. That is intentional. The simple things that I do on a daily basis… I don’t think that is of interest. Like I don’t think that is why am here. I kind of try and figure out and find why I am in this industry. What is it that I have to offer? I offer my message of love, not what T-shirt I prefer to wear when we get home at 7 o’clock…

Do you have any feud with anyone in the industry?

No. I have learnt to accept that people are just the way they are and have their own choices. It’s not worth me even sharing it on social media. Conflict does not grow the industry, it holds us back. We grow when we actually encourage each other…

You have a neat discography with hits and well received albums. Do you still get nervous before releasing new work? 

I think being nervous of how people will receive the music is the natural thing, and it shows that you care. Yes, I do get nervous and worry sometimes! Like, when the album dropped you know that is why I tweeted something and people just made a big deal out of it because Twitter is Twitter, but I tweeted ‘I haven’t seen even one negative comment about my album’. People were responding like, ‘why are you looking for negative things?’ and ‘This tweet is so negative.’

All I was saying was in this world there is so much negativity, especially on Twitter. It’s very rare that you release an album and not hear someone say ‘this is a shitty album’. I was like humbled that after three days I had not seen any of those negative things, you know?

Is there any song that has an important meaning to you or is closer to your heart on the album? 

Mina Nawe is very special for me because I think it ticks all the boxes. I rate that song as probably the best song I have ever recorded. From a songwriting point of view to the production, the mixing… like everything for me… I would admire it if it was another artist’s song…

Then there is another song called Ngiyazi.  That song is little bit more personal. The story is quite personal, but I also listen to it like a fan of music. I hear it and I think that is definitely it is my most relevant songs in the album. I do love every single song that is on that album though

How did you decide on the collaborations in this album?

Most of it was just organic. I would start a song and then hear someone’s voice in it. That’s how I would be inspired to get someone on it. The Zanda and Thabsie collaborations happened when I was working on the songs but kept on hearing these artists on the songs. The Mlindo collaboration was not even planned. I met up with him at a club and then asked him if he was busy the following day. When he said no, I was like ‘ntwana come to the studio…’ It’s magic.

What’s the one thing that shocks you or your fans about you right now?

One that people don’t know about me is that, do you eat noodles? Those two minute noodles. Does it make sense to eat noodles with eggs? I eat noodles with eggs and that is one of my favourite meals of all time!

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