We chatted to SA music star, Kwesta on the rhymin’ game and how he found his niche.
Growing up, Senzo Mfundo Vilakazi had his sights set on soccer. Little did he know that it was his poetry that would turn the boy he was into the man that he is today.
‘I had a happy childhood,’ remembers Senzo (or Kwesta to the rest of us), ‘but I think that my happiest childhood memory would have to be the day my mom bought me my first pair of soccer boots.’ Kwesta was a loner as a kid. So much so that his childhood passed without many standout moments. ‘I can’t really remember the years before my teens,’ says Kwesta. ‘I was an introverted child and I only came out of my shell when I was in my teens.’
Even though soccer was the dream at the time, what the star remembers from his teenage years is writing.
‘I wrote all the time,’ he admits. ‘Whenever I was finished with training, I’d just go home and write.’ The rapper reveals that he wrote a lot of poetry in high school: ‘It felt like all of this writing was a quest that not many people would understand. I was on a quest to say my piece, and as I started rapping, it just made sense that my stage name should be Kwesta.’
South African rap is a genre that is constantly in flux, and is influenced by different elements in society. At this moment in time, according to Kwesta, ‘it’s reflective of a freer youth, of freedom of speech, and of what the youth are actually facing. We represent exactly what the youth goes through everyday, you know? We try to talk about it and we try to attack the powers that be, or at least the braver ones do. I think that it’s headed in the right direction; rap carries the message of the youth and it carries it accurately – well, the work of my favourite artists do.’ Perhaps this is what Shugasmakx and Slikour heard in Kwesta’s demo all of those years
ago. ‘It’s difficult to narrow it down to one artist who inspired me to break into the industry,’ says Kwesta. ‘But they were the ones who listened to this little demo that I’d recorded and took me with them on tour.’ Taking that risk back then has paid off, and Kwesta has been making moves ever since, although, according to him, he’s still got a long way to go.
The greatest moment of his career thus far? ‘It was in 2010,’ Kwesta recalls. ‘The day I held the cover
of my very first album in my hands. The feeling I got then – that’s still the highlight of my career.’ Another great achievement was forming his own label with Kid X called RapLyf Records, which has many projects keeping him busy, including promoting rap duo TLT – just one of many talents signed to his label. Regarding plans for the future, Kwesta says: ‘Music is always next for me. Kid X is about to drop his album, and TLT have a new single out now, they’re also gonna drop an album soon.’
We’ve got the spotlight on Kwesta. Read the full interview in your August issue of ClubX.