Dope Saint Jude
Dope Saint Jude’s selection as one of the artists #ONTHERADAR is telling of her talent and complete conviction to molding her identity within the SA rap scene and society at large. Words: Tshiamo Seape

Dope Saint Jude cuts a striking figure! With long flowing dreadlocks and her mesmerising eyes, she is not easily ignored. To reduce her to appearance, however, is an unfortunate cliché – she is so much more.

Everything about her is expertly curated – from her look to her music Dope Saint Jude leaves nothing to chance, and with good reason. Artists are experts of curation, able to take disparate elements and marry them in ways that surprise and disarm us. Dope Saint Jude is a brash practitioner of this type of artistry. The type that screams “this is me,” and makes no apologies. A queer female rapper from the Western Cape has no right to come so hard given the history of marginalised people in the region and genre, but you can miss her with that noise. The self-professed “Brown Baas” spits bars in an unaltered accent unafraid to let the world know exactly who she is and where she comes from. In between magazine shoots for glossies like Elle, and video shoots in scrap yards, Dope Saint Jude is constantly challenging perceptions.

She is also cognisant of the power she holds as a person, specifically a black woman, in the public eye, and the responsibility that all that entails; “As much as we’re being publicised because it’s cool and trendy, we can also be radical about how we occupy these spaces,” she recently told PLATFORM. It is this intersectional awareness that sets this new breed of female artists apart. Head bopping beats and cheeky, self-referential videos belie a thoughtful yet provocative artist that is just on the cusp of stardom.

Hot on the heels of a US tour, Dope Saint Jude deserves your attention. She has risen to great heights off of individualism and talent and has done so in a male dominant genre. While deserving of praise, she is never preachy. She has decided to “stay off the internet” and instead lets her actions and achievements be her calling card; “Make music that’s honest. Don’t come talk kak here. ” What’s not to love?

She is very serious about flying the flag for Elsies River, her hometown. There’s no pretense and no bullshit. There’s no way to contain or even categorize the talent that she is. Her debut project, Reimagine, was penned and produces almost entirely on her own, however when she did insist the help of outsiders she turned to church singers and a UCT music professor. She comes straight out of left field and delivers something truly original. Her recent performance at the Cape Town Jazz Fest so soon after the release of her debut is a testament to the growing acceptance of talent in any form.

Honest, vibrant, and supremely talented Dope Saint Jude is ready for the world.

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