In this rap game, you get artists that care little for the art of it or the longevity of their careers: entering the industry with a quickly put-together plan to make quick bucks, keep the hard work and risks minimal, get a little bit of the spotlight and maybe get a genuine fan or two. We’ve all seen them before.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum, you get other artists who spend their time bettering their craft, growing their vision, putting in the work and carefully calculating the moves that need to be taken at whichever cost – and when seeing an opportunity, never shying away but rather diving full-force despite the negative outcomes that could be. These ones are rare, and this is where Pxsh – a rapper from Pretoria with no intention of slowing down or succumbing to any pressures – comes in. In a city that’s known for the plethora of ill MCs that rarely get the amount of love that they deserve, you’d expect a huge amount of discouragement from the rappers on the rise. Pxsh, however, is showing anything but disheartenment towards the ups and downs of the industry, and is instead taking it head on. In the conversation that we had, Pxsh spoke to us about coming up, Pretoria’s rap scene, his future plans and how he’s planning to inspire a new generation of rappers with his refusal to follow the crowds but rather take his own path to the top…
Where did this whole rap journey begin for you?
Pxsh: I started in grade 3. I actually took it seriously in 2008. A friend of mine and I formed a group called Atrocity. We had good management; opening and closing shows. I took it a lot more seriously alone, as a solo artist in 2011 after matric. The reason I actually started going solo was because of school. The person I was doing the music with had to go complete a pilot license so he left Pretoria. That hit me with the reality of it: priorities are changing. I had to push it by myself because I feel more strongly about music than I do the books. I’m still in school but I decided to pursue the music thing a little.
How do you juggle being an up-and-coming rapper trying to get the industry’s attention while still trying to take care of school? There must be a lot of challenges with that…
Pxsh: Prioritizing. That’s the main thing. If you have school and music, you get a lot of pressure form your parents and also from yourself because, at the end of the day, you have to have a stable job [and] you have to think about the future as well. You’ll get a gig that can offer you an opportunity, but sometimes it’s a risk because that opportunity may not be the one.
Definitely. So when you do have the opportunity to actually make a track, what is the process like? Is it you sitting down and mapping it out, or does it all happen naturally?
Pxsh: I listen to a lot of music. I wouldn’t say I’m a religious follower of music. I don’t listen to one person and then know every track. There are just a few songs that I listen to that I get inspired by. I hit up producers, they send me stuff and then I work on those songs and then I find a studio perfect to record it in. It’s first listening to what you can make and your potential for that time and getting the right studio.
If I’m told to listen to you, what should I expect that’s different – different from what other people, your Casspers and AKAs, are doing? What are you bringing to the table?
Pxsh: I’m a lot more honest in my songs and I feel like I have a story to tell. I’ve had a lot of personal experiences with a lot stuff that can really challenge you as a young adult with schooling, with relationships and other stuff, and I speak about those things. In Suburbs there was just a small description of who I am as a person, but in the next projects that I’m going to be working on, there’ll be a lot of depth and substance. In the future, I’m willing to get people closer to Christ. You won’t hear that in Suburbs. Suburbs is like a contradiction of what I’m going to do in the future. In the new scripts that I write, I do not use any curse words; I do not believe in promoting profanity anymore, so this is how I’m going to start off.
Do you think this kind of music will appeal to people – especially the younger people? Many are into the club bangers and profanity whereas you want to take it to a more religious perspective & angle. Do you think that would be more appealing than the stuff we’re interested in now that’s more commercial?
Pxsh: Definitely. If you’re good at what you’re doing, then people will obviously feed into the stuff that you’re pushing. I was on this show called Vuzu Hustle. I got kicked off in the first episode but I learnt a lot through the artists that were there. The person that actually won the show is actually the main reason why I’m doing the stuff that I’m doing today, like cutting the profanity, because he doesn’t promote profanity as well and I though that I was the only one. I was seeing him on TV and that actually gave me the idea of thinking that I could do it too. The people that are around me are going to serve as a catalyst to who I want to be as an artist and also to bring other people in that are pushing something similar to that. We need more honesty in music and a lot of people are polluted by all the stuff that they see on TV. Not to say that I’m a good boy [laughs]. It’s a process; it’s hard.
What are you hoping for the future of the Pretoria rap scene and how do you want to contribute to that vision?
Pxsh: The thing is, in Pretoria, music is not as recognized. We don’t have a poster child in Pretoria. Most of the people we want to listen to are from Joburg or Mpumalanga and the media coverage in Pretoria is a lot more weak than elsewhere. But I shouldn’t blame the media coverage. I should say that we have to change the fight in how we do things so that we are more recognized. You have people like Yanga that came out only now. Because of his connections and because of Johannesburg he came out so quickly and you have people like Blaklez who have been in the music since I was in primary school and they’re still fighting to have that spot. We need to come up with our own sound. New age kwaito is nice – it’s beautiful. It’s more African than what we’re pushing; I respect that, but you don’t have to push new age kwaito to be relevant. There’s a female rapper from Pretoria called Rouge. I respect her because she’s a female artist and she’s doing so much that we can learn from. We need to change fight and she’s changing the fight, not just from female artists, but for cats in Pretoria.
That’s very true. So what exciting things do you have coming up in 2016 that you want the people to know about?
Pxsh: When I dropped my single Pxcman man last year, I sent it Spoek Matambo and he liked it and followed me back on Twitter and said he thinks I’m pretty cool. So I took his number down; I took the opportunity. Spoek Matambo is well-known overseas. I hit him up and we spoke on future projects and he featured me on a song that will only be coming out next year, so do look out for that. What I respect about Spoek Matambo is that I think he has a calling to help other people, because his music is based on festivals and all that stuff and the song that we’re working on is more for the clubs and I figured that he’s not doing this song for himself, he’s doing it for me; helping me out as an artist. So next year, just look out for that song….
Stream Pxsh’s Suburb’s project below and follow him on Twitter to keep up with what the MC will be doing in the new year.