South Africa’s hip-hop scene is at a very good place right now. With the array of different sounds emerging, it’s no surprise that the artists are just as diverse – from trap, to the rappers drawing influences from indigenous African sounds.
One of the artists gaining more attention for his contribution is Cape Town-based Simmysimmynya. His vibrant, animated delivery coupled with his understanding of music trends and sounds, make him hard to ignore. He’s described his music as an “elusive, wavy trap sound,” a description that his listeners and fans would definitely agree with. “It’s mainly turn up music,” he explains. “I enjoy making music that makes people feel good, whether it touches your heart or makes you want to groove. The core type of music I make, from the jump, when I started writing though is story-telling. I think it’s incredible how someone can speak on experiences that they went through and complete strangers can relate.”
Whether you’ve heard a couple of songs, seen him live or caught glimpses of his performances or videos online, it is evident that this is an artist who’s personality not only comes through in the music but is also easily enjoyable as he delivers a mood infectious in the energy that it carries.
In this Q&A with Simmysimmynya, he touches on his influences, what the creation of his music looks like, and how his audience can expect a switch-up in his sound one day. He has performed at Rocking The Daisies among many more major stages, was just featured on Uno July’s Zero Hour Zone project, is getting radio play and might just be one of your favourite new rappers if he isn’t already…
When and how did the rap journey begin for you?SIMMYSIMMYNYA I’ve always been a big music fan. My earliest music influences inadvertently came from my older brother. Every time he left his CD’s in the whip, I would get my mom’s keys and go sit in the front seat till late at night listening to them. As early as grade 3 or 4, I was bumping to Eminem’s Encore and can still recite the words. I had to ask for the keys to listen to the music after school because my mom wasn’t cool with driving around and listening to cuss words. My other early influences included Kanye West’s catalogue (I still know Jesus Walks off by heart), John Legend’s Get Lifted album and basically everything my older brother had on his computer or lying around in the whip. In high school, I started writing poems after listening to Wale and separating with my first girlfriend. After hearing a song from a guy that I went to primary school with, I figured “I can do that too”, so that’s basically how the rapping began. My friend was one of the first people to get a blackberry so he would use his BIS to download instrumentals for me and, in grade 9 or 10, I recorded my first song. The rest is history.
Talk to me about your name. Some Ol’ Dirty Bastard influence?
SIMMYSIMMYNYA Funny enough, my name was inadvertently influenced by Ol Dirty Bastard. It’s an evolution of a lot of nicknames I got over the years stemming from my ID book name Simphiwe. So it was basically Simms – I added an extra ‘m’ to make the nickname different – then Simmy. When that A$AP Rocky song Fucking Problems came out, and he said the words “Oooh baby like it raw with the shimmy shimmy ya”, that’s how my name came about. I only found out about the ODB reference of the line later.
What is your creative process like?
SIMMYSIMMYNYA It’s a variety of things. I sometimes sit in studio and listen to beats and, when I find one I like, we play it so I can get it in my head and then I switch it off and start writing. Since high school till about last year before I met my producer, I’d written a lot of songs, I just didn’t have actual beats to put them on so sometimes I’ll hear a beat that suits my song exactly and I’ll record it. Lately I’ve been experimenting and getting more hands on with my sound, so I’ll sit down with my producer and start a beat from scratch. I tell him the sound I’m looking for and help with the arrangement of the beat, where I want the beat to break down or what melodies and synths and 808’s to add in the back, and basically create the exact beat I’m looking for.
It’s usually never done sober because being under some sort of influence enhances my imagination.
One of the first songs that I heard by you was Don’t Get It Twisted which really excited me. What inspired you to make that track? And does it mean that your audience might see a switch-up in your sound in the future?
SIMMYSIMMYNYA It’s actually crazy that that’s the first song you heard. Trapnya, the EP that song comes from, was basically an experiment.
Originally, I was about hardcore bars and being a rapper’s rapper. Then I got to Cape Town and trap started booming so I tried myself out. That’s basically how I found my voice, being the high-pitched voice.
Don’t Get It Twisted ends the trap EP by making the statement of, yes I’m doing trap and I’m just having fun with my music right now, but don’t get it twisted I can actually rap. That’s why the hook says: “Don’t get it twisted, I can spit it like I’m Kendrick/ I’m just stuck inside the trap cos, like a rat that’s where the cheese at/ I’ve got a couple conscious raps imma keep that/ cos the trap makes her ass give me feedback.” So yes, my audience will hear a bit of a switch up in my sound but to me it’s not a switch up, it’s me going back to my roots, really.
What is your view on the Cape Town hip-hop scene right now?
SIMMYSIMMYNYA The Cape Town hip-hop scene is growing and evolving as time progresses. There are a lot of talented producers pushing boundaries with the experimental sound they are creating and there’s some talented rappers coming out the woodwork.
The Cape Town scene is really accepting of my sound and I think that is owing to the fact that the scene is open to new sounds. It isn’t anything like the scene in the rest of the country, the producers this side are really good at fusing hip hop with unconventional/wavy sounds.
There’s room for a future wave which I feel will show its face in 2017.
The end of the year is nearing. Do you have any plans or releases to close the year off or to begin 2017?
SIMMYSIMMYNYA I’m going to drop a full-length project at the beginning of 2017 called Look At Nya. It’s a mixture of all of me, so you’ll hear the trap, the jazz, the RnB, the English and vernac as well as the story-telling and basically everything I’m influenced by. I released the first single of the project called Muddy which was recently played on 5FM as part of PH’s set from 7pm – 9pm on Saturday’s, as well as on VJJonno’s mix on 5FM as well. I’ve done a lot of collaborative work this year which should be released soon, but personally I’m probably going to release one more song off the project before the end of 2016.