This is why this rapper is performing in people’s bedrooms

Andy Mkosi (second from right) and her band perform in a house in Kloof Nek Street. (Image: Sabelo Mkhabela)

An edited version of this article was published by Live Magazine SA

A petite rapper and her three-piece band perform in front of an intimate audience of about 20 people in a house in Kloof, Cape Town. She raps and sings about personal issues like still living in her mother’s tiny flat at 25, having male friends wanting to get into her pants when she’s lesbian. She cracks jokes in between, and invites fans to ask her questions. This is the living room of Noncedo Charmaine’s house, one of the many stops of the Cape Town rapper Andy Mkosi’s Bedroom Tour.

“I’ve always felt like my music didn’t do well in a club,” Andy tells me. She sometimes ended up not performing in shows she was booked for. “I respect my music, I can’t perform when people are stupid drunk,” she said of one show in which she refused to get on stage at 2am.

Andy’s music is mid-tempo boom bap, and it’s always an oddity in shows where most of the performances are hard-hitting trap. Her music, because of its serene nature, is usually an anti-climax to turnt up fans. She looks uncomfortable spilling her soul out to an inattentive audience.

Her solution? Earlier last year, she put up a callout on her Facebook page for any of her fans to invite her and her band to perform in their bedroom. Fans had to organise 20 of their friends at a fee, and Andy and her band would come perform for them.

It seemed like a joke to some. Completely misunderstood by others. “It’s mostly rappers who just want to perform,” she told me when I asked her how the response was. One fan got it, and invited her. She has since performed in four Cape Town bedrooms — two in Observatory, one in Langa (where she’s from) and of course Kloof street in the CBD.

Any doesn’t stay in her lane, she creates new ones

This is not the first time she has done something different. About four years ago, tired of waiting for bookings that weren’t coming, she and an artist friend, OBie Mavuso, started their own series of events — Jam That Session — with like minded artists. Jam That Session grew to be one of the most reputable music and arts events in the Cape Town underground circuit — with headliners like the rapper Youngsta, the singer Nakhane Touré, fine artist Loyiso Mkize, the jazz artist Zoë Modiga, among others.

“Jam That Session has influenced so many events that are happening in Cape Town at the moment,” she said. “I’m not even being bitter — I’m proud that we were able to spark and ignite everything that is happening around the culture in Cape Town.”

There hasn’t been a JTS event in close to a year, with the last one taking place early last year. “What we are trying to do now,” she went on to say in the interview, “is push our craft through this platform — release music and sell merchandise.” The bigger goal is to, one day, throw a massive “Afro Punk vibes” event in Cape Town.

What I loved about Jam That Session events was that every iteration was different. With most Cape Town events, it’s always the same names on the line-up whereas with JTS, it was a different theme and line-up every month — it was there that I discovered amazing artists like Zoe Modiga and Native Refugee.

Jam That Session was always pushing boundaries, and it didn’t always work. The last event they tried to do was in the form of a mini tour. Fans were to be transported from one venue to the other to watch different artists in each venue. The event ended up being cancelled as they didn’t sell enough tickets — people didn’t get it. “We were just trying something different,” Andy told me.

Who is Andy Mkosi?

Andy has paid her dues as an artist and a documenter of culture. She started out rapping in cyphers and went on to share the stage with American rappers Jean Grae and Pharoah Monch in 2012. In 2014, Andy performed at the annual Cape Town’s Most Wanted hosted by Kool Out, the head honchos of hip-hop events in Cape Town at the time. She rocked alongside reputable names such as Black Vulcanite, Youngsta, Ill Skillz and Bliksemstraal. She has performed at the annual African Hip Hop Indaba. As a photographer, she has documented the underground hip-hop circuit, hosted a hip-hop show on Bush Radio and another at the now-defunct Assembly Radio.

In all these artforms, Andy Mkosi always strives to do things differently. She tells me she would like to go to Europe, where she feels her kind of music is celebrated. She cites rappers Little Simmz and Rapsody as her inspiration for being independent, not succumbing to the status quo, but still managing to eat from your craft.

Even playing with a band as a rapper is all part of setting herself apart. “I like playing with these guys,” she says of her band to her audience at Noncedo’s house, “because they make my music, music. It doesn’t necessarily become hip-hop on stage — the possibilities are endless.”

In 2017, she is taking the Bedroom Tour out of Cape Town, to Johannesburg, Pretoria and the Eastern Cape. Her next show is in Braamfontein on February 11. Her project The Audio Is Visual is due for a February release.

Andy Mkosi performs at a house in Kloof Nek Street below. (Videography: Sabelo Mkhabela)

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