The rap scene in and around Maseru in the early 2000s is my foundational story. I was active in it, first as an emcee who roamed talent shows and one-street hoods with various crews.
We’d hold rap ciphers around town and exchange cassette tapes whenever possible. Pirate culture was our collective middle name, geeks of illegally-obtained software.
I formed part of movements that cultivated spaces to exist in a city and country that had no place for kids like us. We sounded like Americans, we wore baggy pants, we were anything but desirable.
But we also listened to Kwaito and House; we spoke taal like everyone around us and, for those who sipped brew, hung around taverns on Friday afternoons, month-end after school — like everyone around us.
Out of rap was borne a consciousness that it’s vital to seek out alternative ways to exist, and to hold them close to heart. Rap happened in our parents’ living rooms; at corners of fast-food restaurants; atop buildings that offered expansive, invigorating views of the city; in radio station’s miniature studios; at school, during breaks and the many times teachers would elect to skip class.
In the 10-year span the following set of images covers, cats graduated from High School, they pursued their studies, graduated, and got married. Some are, today, holding senior positions at their workplaces. Others have departed; their spirit lives on, and this work serves also to memorialize them, so that we don’t forget.
El-Core Records consisted of producer Lekhetho Khama (El-Kai), and emcees Nkopane Mohola (Conundrum) and Core Wreckah (me). This performance was held inside of an unused cinema, located at the then-Lesotho Sun (now Avani) Hotel. The turn-out was unprecedented; folks really were sitting that close to us because there were no chairs left to sit upon, and all the back area was packed. A disaster-in-waiting, is what it was.
The Sprite Rap Activity Jam was a rap competition hosted by Tumisang Mochekele (Bad Boy T) on PC FM. Short for ‘People’s Choice’, the radio station heralded an era of prolific, youth-focused programming from 1998 onwards. This show provided a crucial platform for emcees, and some began to cultivate small buzzes and little pockets of followers because of it.
Deejay Bad Boy T remains one of my favourite people to have heard on the radio. He effortlessly anchored the Sprite Rap Activity from its first episode in June 2001, and guided it towards the success it became.
Beefs were formed and squashed on that show; legendary ciphers were held while cats waited outside for their three minutes on air; and, every year-end, there’d be an emcee who grabbed the coveted M10,000 prize money.
Bad Boy is no longer around to see these images. He left us on 2013. We remember; we honour; we are thankful.
Emcees gathering outside of the PC FM studios for the Sprite Rap Activity Jam, Thursdays, 5–6 pm. The cat holding the mop, foot mid-way, is my favourite producer and emcee in the world. His name is Khotso Monoko. Thabang Lento, the cat dressed in all black with a backpack, has also ascended. Peace, god.
This wall is a collaborative process between three aspiring graf artists. Matz, Killa and Rooty (RIP) found this wall in Mohalalitoe one mid-week afternoon in the middle of the Winter season, and decided that it’d look prettier with colour on it. These were the results.
This image happened while we were on our way to the CBD, probably to cop lunch in the form of a litre of Coo-Wee Cola from Shoprite with which we’d chase down a large pack of chips and magwinya. After mealtime came cipha time.
This image occurred during the recording of the Dead On Arrival II mixtape. The collection featured affiliates from around town, with a majority of the sessions being recorded at Mokhethi Rampeta’s crib in Maseru West. He’s the cat seated in front, staring at the computer screen. On the mic is Blitz Man.