RAPPER Kislev has vowed to stay true to his brand of underground Hip Hop in the face of increasing competition from the emerging genre of Trap music.
Trap music is a subgenre of Hip Hop that has gained momentum in the dance music culture. It is filled with the brass sounds, snappy snares and low end bass samples and more focused on getting revelers on the dance floor than on spreading messages through lyrics.
However, the Sekamaneng-born Kislev who has seen it all in music with a career spanning over 15 years, believes Trap will not be much competition as it would serve a different market.
He started rapping as a high school student back in 1999 when rappers were an oddity because of their baggy pants and fast-talking lyrics presented in the slang popularised in the United States.
He does not mince words when he talks about his love for Hip Hop and why he has stayed underground.
“Those were the Pantsula days so being a rapper was regarded as something of a joke and it required a steely determination to keep pushing,” Kislev said, adding, “for me it has always been about what I believed in rather than what others thought of me”.
“Hip Hop is a competitive industry where most rappers have changed with time, including doing Trap to appeal to the current younger generation.
But I am staying true to my craft of hard hitting lyricism which is what I am most competent in. I do not have to try to be something else to remain relevant for there are still people out there who are hungry for the message rather than just treating music as a dance catalyst.”
Kislev’s debut offering Electro Magnetically Pestilent was released in 2005, followed by Empty Vessel makes the Most Sound in 2009.
Last year he released the hard-hitting Collector’s Item mixtape and the album has been nominated for three Ultimate Music Awards in the categories of Best Hip Hop, Best Compilation and Best Music Video.
“To be an underground rapper, word play must always be on the tip of your tongue. I have always believed in self-respect, freedom of speech and I also believe in my abilities as a story-teller.
“I do not swear when I rap for I want the message I am preaching to appeal to everyone regardless of age,” he said.
Signed under Motown Records, the I Am An MC hit-maker is currently working on his next album, Collector’s Item Too, which set to released next month. The 15-track album will feature tracks such as Boiling Hot which is receiving airplay on local radios and Rent.
Some of the featured artistes include the likes of T Mech, Kally Kome, Hermit Sage, Snurd and Giovanni.
“The album will be distributed countrywide even at taxi ranks. I do not want people to perceive me as a Maseru rapper but a Hip Hop disciple in every district so that when I go to any of them for a performance, people would already know what to expect,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the local music industry would grow to become lucrative especially as locals had started “supporting their own”.
He also said the country’s music was ready for export but was being held back by the artistes’ unjustified fear of failing in other markets.