Tseliso Monaheng
Oct 5, 2018 · 4 min read

The story progresses.

Out of street ciphers emerged self- and group-funded initiatives to record mixtapes, and invitations to paid performance at live music concerts. Radio also took notice; ‘local’ hip hop was receiving more airplay from deejays such as Boots, Dallas T, Queen of Denver, Nthabby, and more. Miss P (alias Pearl Ocansey) went the extra step by organising weekday rap and poetry nights at the then-Good Times Café. She is another one in a growing list of broadcasters who’s no longer with us.

But it was the introduction of the national broadcaster Radio Lesotho’s commercial wing, Ultimate FM, that a sizeable following began to concretise. The likes of Dallas T dedicate ample time during their shows in order to give a platform to emcees who needed to promote their music, often attracting flack from his superiors who failed to fathom why a bunch of dirty-mouthed scoundrels were being afforded so much space.

I had a column on an independent weekly newspaper owned and run by one Leseli Mokhele. Between late-2007 and 2010, I would write about things my rap (and artist) friends were doing, be it a profile on producer San-hedrin; or a write-up of songs from the likes of Nuch and MOX; or even a feature piece written while the public art installation of the bucket-carrying lady at the centre of LNDC downtown was being re-fashioned by graf artist and Rastaman, Ashenafe.

Innumerable things happened in the 2003–2013 interim. Perhaps other writers will be inspired to write about those events. Or not.

The following set of images were culled from a 2013 archive. There was a following at this stage, with some cats were starting to earn a moderate income due to their rap careers gaining them enough clout to be chosen as part of advertising campaigns for mobile phone networks.

L-R: TURK, Jiji F, Snurd, Conundrum, Deejay, T-Mech, RMC (peeking from the back)

The homies took over Bloemfontein during one weekend in 2013, at the height of the “Basali Basali” wave. This image happened a short while following their performance at an event hosted by Bloem-based producer and emcee, Kullax.

L-R: Lynor, L-Tore & Nirex

These cats go way back as rappers. Nowadays, one owns an eatery and deejays every now and then, while the other two continue to make tasteful rap cuts for the masses. L-Tore’s single with Kommanda Obbs can be streamed here, while one of Nirex’s latest cuts is embedded below.

L-R: Sage, Johnson, Phil da Kritik, Chino El Vito

Above are some of the producers responsible for the sound of Lesotho hip hop. Phil da Kritik in particular was instrumental to my own development as an emcee during the mid-2000s, and his contribution to a host of Maseru-based emcees’ music should never go overlooked. Chino’s part of the new wave, putting in work and waiting for his time to shine.

This image is from a Saturday afternoon at a Sage- and Johnson-initiated producer’s gathering, The Library, where cats played their beats, exchanged ideas around production, and provided one another with tips regarding what elements to improve in their sound.

Skebza’s been rapping longer than most people have been in the scene. His knowledge of its inner workings is therefore unparalelled. This was him rockin’ out during the Basali Basali All Stars’ performance during December 2013.

Basali Basali All Stars, December 2013.

Producer, emcee, label owner and music rights activist T-Mech during a studio session.

He’s indeed come a long way from kicking ciphers in front of the PC FM studios during the weekly Sprite Rap Activity Jam (a talent search competition); to having his face plastered on outdoor billboards advertising a cellphone network.

Mahala

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