Hot Winter, a Nelspruit based rap group consisting of Illusive, Negro and B The Vocalist, have broken their mixtape silence and released their self-titled debut project.
When you’re told about any debut being in the pipelines for any artist, the initial response is either entering an uncontrollable stress, wondering if the project might change how you view the artist behind it for the worst and if you’ll need to go back on all the bets you made; or there’s the excitement owing to the uninterrupted, full listening session you’ll find yourself indulging in as you get to understand the artist on a much deeper level than you thought you did. For me, the release of this mixtape was the latter: the curiosity to see what the final product would entail after hearing a few singles was unavoidable.
Releasing any project takes time – visual or audio. Add high school stress and trying to penetrate into a rap scene in a city that you don’t live in to the equation, and the result is even more hard work.
The Self-Titled Mixtape lends itself as a refreshing blend of the party-oriented, bottle-popping music getting air play on our sound waves and the emotionally relatable and honest music that’s more and more seeping through the cracks of different commercial rap avenues. Although much of the mixtape’s sound is derivative of trends and samples well cemented into many other hip-hop releases, the stand-out feature on The Self-Titled Mixtape comes in the defining high school student persepective oozing in almost every track, providing a truer sense of relatibility and honesty while eliminating the pretentious and unrealistic lifestyles often rapped about in debut projects in hopes of attaining some sort of commercial attention and appeal. In short: the mixtape is unique.
“We just realized that the rap game is a very long game. It could take years before we blow up or make it and we saw that it was better we start now with building our image and fan base; evolving and perfecting our sound; learning the tricks of the music industry – simple things like registering our music; and releasing our music now so that five years from now, we not only have a fan base already established, but we have a progression and improvement in our sound and a new basis to work from, musically, which is why we didn’t release our mixtape later. We didn’t release it earlier because we were still young high school kids.”
The mixtape’s production gradually becoming darker allowing for more introspection, highlighted by slower beat selection, then gradually picks up again to an energetic ending.
From Run This, a mellow introduction to the mixtape featuring the classic adlibs familiarised from previous singles, the entire rap mission is put into context. I’d like to believe that it was intended for the mixtape begin with one of the most laid back tracks, immediately going into a ridiculously energetic and commercially viable track because if that wasn’t the plan, it was an unbelievably effective mistake. From Run This the mixtape maintains the high energy on Me & The Crew to Nelspruit 2 Manhattan, one of the singles released in anticipation of The Self Titled Mixtape: atrap inspired ode to the city that they’re from and shoutout to where they’re planning on spreading their influence. More notable moments are on 16-0; Teenage Crisis, a more melancholic approach to the same concepts dealt with on the mixtape; 90’s Kid and the last and most entertaining track Hot Winter Live, a live show setting interview with slight social commentary and brilliant worldplay. Their musical influences throughout the mixtape are clear yet controlled and well-executed through their own rendition.
“Our mixtape isn’t looking towards making a profit or winning some glorified paper weight that has no real artistic meaning other than number of sales. It’s different because it represents the Sunrise Sound – the sound of Mpumalanga – not Joburg or Durban or the other Gauteng rap sounds and movements, but the rap sound of the province that we call home: Mpumalanga, land of the rising sun.”
To an outsider, the Nelspruit rap scene is quiet – it’s probably even considered non-existent by most. But to those that know what’s up, it’s busy and will soon be nearing its peak.
Hot Winter’s Self-Titled Mixtape is a project filled with great moments, verses worth rewinding and replaying countless times, and pure entertainment. The project is a great first offering. Stream the 10-track mixtape below