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The Def Jam Star And Trend-Setter In African Music: ‘I Come From A Place Where Dreaming Is Not A Thing’

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Nasty C, the award-winning South African rapper hailed ‘The Coolest Kid In Africa’, recently signed with Def Jam in the United States, through a joint venture with Universal Music Africa, which sees him joining the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber. The 23-year-old rapper, also one of FORBES AFRICA’s 30 Under 30 list-makers in 2018, tells us more.

Mainstream South African rapper, Nsikayesizwe David Junior Ngcobo, popularly known as Nasty C, recently made his US debut with the song, There They Go, a single launched just before the lockdown in South Africa in March. Shot in Durban, in the country’s sunny KwaZulu-Natal coast, it’s the first advance track of his forthcoming album Zulu Man with Some Power.

Known as the most-streamed South African artist on Apple Music for four years in a row, he is effecting the crossover to the global stage and helping change stereotypes about African music. The Universal Music Group also recently announced the launch of Def Jam Africa, which shows new interest in talent across the continent.

Says Nasty C, who has been rapping since he was nine years old, and shot to fame with songs like Juice Back and Bad Hair, to FORBES AFRICA: “I hope to change that whole stereotype and just show them that we have a lot of depth and different flavors, and there are a lot of things we can teach outsiders that they don’t really know about. Hopefully, by exposing more African artists and if I can open the gates and have hundreds of artists follow after me, I feel we can bridge that gap. They will see Africa in a different light.”

While on lockdown in Johannesburg, the rapper has been building his online presence.

“I have had to focus on the digital side of things, and also be able to go live on YouTube and connect with fans; give them a taste of music that’s still to come.”

Through technology, even if the pandemic pursues, he feels music will survive.

“Music is very unpredictable. With the whole TikTok thing, artists are able to go viral… And that’s been working out very successfully and help them earn a little bit of money. I don’t think artists are going to be struggling if this pandemic continues… But nothing can top the energy of being in an arena with fans.”

Ten years from now, the young rapper hopes to be seen as an artist for generations.

“I hope to be a legend, I don’t want it to be about how rich I am or how my music career is, as long as I have changed the way my people think…”

His new song album Zulu Man with Some Power, he says, is about taking more pride in his people and culture and showcasing it on the global stage.

He says he looks up to artists like Burna Boy and Wizkid “who are representing Africa and uplifting Africa in the world”.

“My idols are living testimony that there are powers in the universe that could allow you to go from zero to hero. That’s what I hope to teach my fans. I come from a place where dreaming is not a thing, where people’s ceilings are this low. They feel they are undeserving of the finer things in life. I am just here to tell them that they are wrong. They should go for their dreams no matter how crazy and outrageous they are!”

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