Cape Town has become known as a hotbed for stellar electronic and pop music over the past few years however, Hip-Hop has struggled to find a place of pride among the city’s creative class. For every Christian Tiger School, Thor Rixon and Hyroine, the number “urban” musicians making a noticeable imprint on the local music scene is far fewer; standouts like Stiff Pap are still too rare.
It’s not simply about the number of exciting acts, but what they bring to the table. Without isolating the critique to Cape Town, Hip-Hop in South Africa does suffer from a lack of individualism, the results of which lead to too many talented musicians bogged down by the expectations of trends. On “E55nce,” the latest offering from Dada Shiva, the MC has one foot treading the waters of the familiar and another submerged in a stream of fresh new ideas.
The production is urgent and demanding, with standouts like the album opener “Ionizing Radiation” and “Am I? (Yakuza)” having a distinct feel that could only come from an artist acting with more autonomy than is possible for some of the half dozen or so marquee names that dominate local Hip Hop conversations. E55nce also showcases Dada’s talent for lyricism – with treats for real heads as well as bars that can carry a club banger. Demonstrating an ear for production, a talent for altering his flow and cadence and assembling a robust collection of collaborators, Dada has created a vibrant and much needed project that should serve as a blueprint for what progressive SA Hip-Hop can sound like. Listen below.