From making music to battling, and even organising and promoting shows, Spectre is one busy man within the local hip hop scene. This man embodies the totality that is required at grass roots level to be a “complete emcee”.
Spectre, real name Nkululeko Mbatha, exhibits a can-do buccaneering spirit and the ability to invest in the unknown. He talks about how important it is to be able to think on one’s feet, both professionally and as a rapper. Spectre also delves into how he started the VHHF (Vaal Hip Hop Festival) and discuses the successes thereof.
It is always a pleasure for Lavatory Records to converse with multi-talented (hint: Spectre was a highly regarded sportsman) and multi-faceted individuals, who exemplify “getting it done” despite circumstances that are deemed insurmountable.
Lavatory Records: Tell us about Spectre as an artist, is he a battle rapper or a musician?
Spectre: In all honesty it would be unfair to categorize or limit me to a certain aspect of the art, because I have a full album out released independently entitled Ground Zero. I am able to flex my “pen game” from concepts to musical joints and have maintained my street credibility. I’ve dominated “ciphers” to certify my freestyle ability, have done stage performances including battles from written to “on the spot raps” (freestyles), that have either been documented or just street. So I’d like to think of myself as a complete “emcee”.
Lavatory Records: Being an organiser of the VHHF, does that mean we’ll get to see more of Nkululeko Mbatha rather than “Spectre”?
Spectre: Whenever I organize a gig I put Nkululeko “forward” because I’m dealing with people professionally. This is due to me needing to be emotionally intelligent and logical, ahead of being creative.
Lavatory Records: How did the vision for the VHHF start and who founded the first one?
We try to give an unsigned, up-and-coming hip hop artist a platform, especially considering that some get to perform as opening acts for the bigger commercial artists. We don’t want them to feel as though their music and talent is being down-played. I funded the first gig from my own pocket without silent investors from the beginning. It was always my idea and currently still has no co-founders.
Lavatory Records: Do you see forests or do you see trees? Meaning, are you bigger-pictured or more detail orientated?
Spectre: I am able to see past graphical barriers. I’m more interested in using my imagination to the limits. This means I see even past the bigger picture or detailed information. I can forecast a show with no financial promise, and this is the fourth show where I’m gunning to prevail and successfully showcase.
Lavatory Records: We have noticed you were quite an athlete while growing up. Why did you pursue arts & culture rather than competitive sports?
Spectre: Sports is the top priority in my domain of passions and interests. Arts and culture is actually my passion played out through Hip Hop.
Lavatory Records: You are an avid sports fan and give rather frank opinions over social media. What are your thoughts on the South African sports and entertainment industry, in terms of growth and potential?
Spectre: Being an athlete in SA is one of the most difficult careers anyone can engage in, for there’s a lot of corruption which is evident from our national teams’ performances. We don’t have the best athletes representing the country. However should we limit corruption in sports, I’m sure we will merge as a powerful nation because we have a lot of undiscovered talent.
Lavatory Records: Talk us through your battling experience. Being known as a “freestyle emcee”, did you ultimately have problems adapting to this new written format of battling?
Spectre: Yes I wasn’t keen on writing for my battles till it hit me. Every loss accrued due to freestyling messed with my reputation! I don’t want to lie I only wrote a week before or the night before the battle, as I always thought battling is the ability to outsmart your opponent on the spot.
Lavatory Records: Where do you see the direction of the music industry going, especially with the internet changing the dynamics within the game?
Spectre: Industry music will never be hindered at all by the internet forces or powers. The Internet has been here since forever, the industry is too powerful and influential, to be moved by hackers and chronic internet users.
Lavatory Records: What do you feel it takes to be a great live performer, in contrast with what it takes to be a great recording artist?
Spectre: As a live performer you need to be one with the crowd. Communication is key, along with stage presence, aura, conviction, and relational-energy – all that in one, interacting with the people. However, as a booth artist all you need to have is your verse well prep for great conviction and confidence in your work.
Lavatory Records: What has your experience of the South African music industry been like in general? Give us the good and bad of the local industry.
Spectre: I’m not the one to say what’s good or bad but quite frankly, I don’t approve of promoters and event coordinators calling kwaito or any other genre which isn’t hip hop, and categorising it as hip-hop! That’s sad and demeaning to those who stay true to the art of hip hop.
Lavatory Records: What future projects or events should we look out for from you?
Spectre: I’m done recording With Ground Zero, which is a full 16-track album that received great feedback and sold all 50 copies at the launch. I still have more orders to print and I also have an EP (extended play) for the project which I will give away for free. I will also include Invoice the mixtape, which features Impropoe from Revivolution, Vortex, Slege Lee and POT (Power Of Thought). The Vaal Hip Hop Festival 2015 is on the 30th of May 2015, Salsa Zone 10 SBK.
Lavatory Records: Any special mentions you want to shout out?
Spectre: Shout out to Dexterous Phenomenon and everybody from my paradigm. We see the progress! Peace be upon you all at Lavatory Records.