Something you have to love about Hip-Hop, or at minimum respect, is that you can find Hip-Hop anywhere in the world. It is everywhere, believe me, you just need to dig a little. No, looking past the Hip-Hop top 40 on iTunes is not digging. I mean going on SoundCloud, looking at names you have never heard before and simply taking a chance. Just press play and be open to new viewpoints. You might find your new favourite artist.
Now this interview was one that I simply lucked out on. This man followed me on Instagram, I peeped his profile, saw that he had a SoundCloud account and since I wasn't doing anything at the time, decided to listen to a few tracks. Once I realised that he's a Hip-Hop Rapducer (Raps & makes beats), I enquired about an interview. And here we are. I give you my conversation with an artist haling all the way down to the depths of the southern hemisphere, Johannesburg, South Africa. Ladies & gentlemen, 23 year old CJ Haiku.
Charlie: So. Johannesburg. How does a man from South Africa get into Hip-Hop?
CJ: I think the same as everybody else honestly. For me personally I started to listen to Kanye West in the 8th Grade but I started rapping at 14 so it just built up you know. We see what these guys do and try to imitate it sometimes admittedly but most of the time we try to add an African flare to it. So we don't want to seem as if we're posing but we try to stay true.
Charlie: So you started rapping in high school, how long have you been doing this?
CJ: Its been about 9 years.
Charlie: I heard some of your stuff in preparation for this conversation and I quickly sensed that you dip into everything. Thoughtful lyricism, fat beats. It is interesting the method you send your messages.
CJ: I honestly try to create with the mindset of connecting to as many people as I can. I do this hoping that something I am going through could maybe help somebody else get through whatever they're going through. It's all about trying to relate to people.
Charlie: I get that. Lifting the people. So i'm wondering how is South African Hip-Hop?
CJ: i'd say we don't get recognition unless it's the basic, mainstream trap music. For somebody like me who's on the lycial side of rap, we certainly don't get recognition compared to the trap artists. It's pretty rough being on this side, constantly battling to do this and getting income so it's rough
Charlie: I hear that. But it's commendable that you keep it real to your craft.
CJ: I think that's just how I feel i should do this. I won't lie and say that I have tried going the commercial route and trying to grow the fan-base but for me I do this and feel like I should keep real to myself and it will come in time.
Charlie: So do you do this on the side or are you completely immersed in your craft?
CJ: If I could go full-time i certainly would. I'm currently a student at the University of Johannesburg so I make time for this but if i could go full-time I would. Whenever I get the chance like in a weekend i'll do something, usually producing. I rarely hang out or go to parties you know. My spare time usually goes to writing and producing. So I make time but i'm a student first.
Charlie: Oh right! How old are you?
Charlie: Oh sweet! I'm in the same boat man, it's painful sometimes.
CJ: It certainly is but what keeps me going is people like you that hit me up saying they like my work and it really gives me a boost to keep going and makes me feel like if I can stay on course I will be fine.
Charlie: My pleasure man, like I said before this, I appreciate people that are good and respect Hip-Hop and it's even more fascinating that you come from somewhere that people don't see as a Hip-Hop place but do it any and of great quality simply because you love it. With that said. We end every interview with this. What's your top 5?
CJ: Oh wow! OK so first I got to start with Kanye West. I was the only kid in school that listened to "The College Dropout". That album did a lot for me and he really inspired me as a kid growing up. I listen to everything he drops. Number 4, Andre 3000. Just because of his unique style and approach to his music. It's unlike anybody else and that puts him down as one of the greats. Not only does he hold himself as a lyricist but he's just a unique person. Number 3 I have to put Kendrick Lamar in there. I believe he's the best alive right now and most definitely if you look at his conscious lyricism you could easily put him up there with the greats. He can connect on a special level not just to America but even if you're in Africa, even though you can't personally relate, you still understand. Number 2 would be 2Pac, same reasons for Kendrick, you can still connect to him after 20 years since his passing. My all-time favourite song is 2Pac's "Do For Love". If there was such thing as perfect it would be that song. Number 1 in my top 5 really inspired me to push and think about what I say before I step in front of the mic. It's JCole. He's one of the best right now but before he got the fame I listened to "The Sideline Story" in high school and I can't get enough of him. He inspired of my songs, it's called "Slumlords" and it just talks about the daily oppression we go through as black people. It doesn't just happen in America you know.
I feel like I have to speak about this kind of stuff. Sometimes we like to not look at the bad in the world and I think we should look at the oppression we have and talk about it.
Charlie: Exactly man. It's fine having escapism but we also need to face the world horrors that happen daily. Thanks for talking to me man I appreciate it.
Please scroll down below and peep some of CJ's music. His EP "Rori" is below. Enjoy.