26-year-old singer/dancer/pianist/producer from Johannesburg Toya Delazy launches Klutch Kollective, the first all-female rap crew in South Africa. Whereas the artist has just been selected for the second and final round of the Midem Artist Accelerator taking place in Cannes at the beginning of June 2016, Klutch Kollective gave their first international interview to Madame Rap!
How it is like to be a woman on the South African hip hop scene?
There are a lot of challenges as hip hop can be full of male chauvinists over here, and it’s quite a macho country. We as female rappers are most of the time not taken seriously. Therefore a collective is the perfect approach and opportunity to change this culture.
How was Klutch Kollective born and why do you think South Africa needs an all-female rap crew?
At the 2015 South African Hip Hop Awards, hardly any females were represented in South African Hip hop, there was a female category, which was meant for 5 contestants but only had 3 nominees! This got me thinking why are South African femcees so poorly represented when I know so many great ones?! I decide to call up some friends telling them that we needed to make an all female track that would show the industry that females are here and a lyrically skilled and ready to be acknowledged by the industry. I then got hold of Mandisa Nduna (FIAH) a friend of mine who I went to university with, Marcia Buwa (Genius) who I used to gig with at street shows whilst growing my craft in Durban, and lastly D.K. who I met a year prior and formed Klutch Kollective. South Africa needs the collective voices of women right now to invigorate and share something new, we need to diversify the hip hop game, that’s all we are here to do, set a new tone.
On “Back To the Roots” you sing “Back to the roots, back to the real hip hop”. What do you mean by that and what do you think of hip hop today?
“Back to the roots/back to the real hip hop” is self-explanatory, Till now the hip hop scene in SA now had only been concentrating on dance and less on its rhythm and poetry side. This song is about all the original elements we feel built hip hop to be what it is today, story telling poetry and rhythm beats that make you bop your head.
Why do you think hip hop can be a political tool?
In 2016, as musicians, not just as hip hop artists, we are influential beings more than ever. Politicians have lost their credibility. We observe our surroundings and later tell those stories to the world, as it is, without censure. Therefore hip-hop can easily be a political tool, the youth needs us now more than any other time to share our views on what’s happening in the world… Music is a very strong form of art.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why?
Yes. I strongly believe in equality for all. I am a woman so I’m automatically labeled as a feminist, probably because I don’t carry myself as one who is less than my male counter parts… I believe the key to life’s opportunities is equality, so everyone can have a fair try and have a say. Women shouldn’t have to struggle to succeed in arts nor in the corporate world.
How did you manage to make yourself a name as a producer and what do you think should be done to change this situation?
I’m a classically trained jazz pianist and only I started releasing my productions on my 2nd studio album Ascension. Nobody was expecting it because it’s not often that women are found on the musical production side of things, especially in Africa.
Initially, my productions weren’t really taken seriously, until I went to the united states and I got my buddy Jazziel Sommers to be my 3rd eye, he mixed all my productions and they ended up being some of the best joints on the album, listen out for“In My Head”, “Out of My Mind” et “Sophomore”, on my album Ascension. I co produced 3 other tracks with producers I really love such as Cape Town’s Card on Spokes (Dreamer”, “Star Trek”, “Cheeky”) as well as LosKop from Los Angeles and SA (“Forbidden Fruit”, “Why Hate”). “Forbidden Fruit” was awarded International Song of the Year at the beginning of 2016 by the Out Music Awards in New York. I knew from then on that I needed to continue producing…
Who are your female role models?
Nina Simone, Skin from Skunk Anansie, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Jean Grae, I also really like Christine and the Queens from France, I’m actually going to see her in London in May! And… My mum, lol… Cheesy but true.
What are you listening to these days?
Genius says she listens to Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, AKA, Nasty C, EVE, the reason being music for them is more than just sound and lyrics, it’s life. I’m more onJames Bay, Flume, Chester Watson, Triex at the moment. Bieber is also cool.
What’s next for Klutch Kollective?
We will be releasing the music video for “Back To the Roots”, how the shoot fell into place is a crazy story, we made it in two days, you could think it was one of these 48h film projects! We worked with an incredible team and venue, I cannot wait for everyone to see this majestic production, the release should be next month.
What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved
Madame Rap is doing well by showing support to all female rap/hip hop artists no matter how big or small or where they are located geographically, it empowers us, and gives us the opportunity to connect with people beyond borders!