It is no doubt that the social media era has brought with it an element of a ‘concocted reality’, and as a reality the truth tends to be uncomfortable for many. However, the flip side is that whatever is posted on these social platforms is forever embedded on the interweb, even if it gets deleted off the platform. One needs to make sure that their story is straight from the onset as backtracking and retraction is virtually impossible.
For Hip Hop, and particularly the art of emceeing, even the traditional media platform is used as a soap box to speak one’s truth! Back in 1989 the rap group, Public Enemy, unsettled many people with the lyric “Elvis was a hero to most, But he never meant s**t to me you see, Straight up racist that sucker was...” on their song Fight The Power. The magnitude to send out such emotively resounding messages is what also made the group NWA very popular. It was made very clear what NWA’s thoughts were on Law Enforcement and the LAPD. A balance of checks is necessary in society as a whole, to even keep the authorities and mass media outlets in line.
This verbosity gave Hip Hop music a life form as an alternative enforcer and by blowing the whistle on injustices that arose.
The Soothsayers is a duo from Joburg who rather find themselves in a dilemma when it comes to expressing themselves to the full, while being mindful of the sensitive souls that dwell on social media nowadays. Political correctness is now the order of the day. One can draw somewhere in their name, that they’ve had to find a “soothing” way to convey their thoughts. We at Lavatory Records had to let them “Say What They Must”.
Lavatory Records: Who are the Soothsayers and what’s the meaning behind the choice of name?
The Soothsayers: The Soothsayers is a duo of two JHB based emcees – Apocalypse and Lee-Royalty. Raised on the culture of “old school” Hip Hop, we use our music to challenge what is considered “conventional thinking”. A “Soothsayer” [sooth-sey-er]: The word for one who tells the truth, a foreseer or prophet. We feel we align with those sentiments.
LR: When and how did you guys gets started in the music game?
TS: When we were growing up there was a crew of us kids that would always chill together, we all felt passionately about music and we all loved Hip Hop, naturally we started free-styling together, which progressed to writing lyrics, which evolved to performing at high school talent shows and battling at parties and soon went on to open mics and gigs, so to put an age on it is hard but roughly our mid‐teen years.
LR: You guys are releasing an EP entitled Say What You Must. The lead single to which is called “City Streets” featuring Tazz, which has a strange personification of your hometown Johannesburg. Explain the concept to us?
TS: Well the producer of the track and up-coming EP, “Say What You Must”, is LowKey Enzo. He gave us this beat to work with and Lee-Royalty immediately came up with the concept of paying tribute to our hometown by personifying our city as the woman we love. By the next time we all linked up in the studio, Royalty had a hook down which was constructed to resemble wedding vows. We paint a picture with our lyrics that reflects what we see and encounter on a day-to-day basis on these City Streets, and even with all “her” imperfections, we maintain our undying love for the city. As much as it is JHB for us, anyone from another city can listen to the song and relate it to their hometown. Shout-out to the awesome Tazz for laying down some amazing vocals, she’s mad talented.
(City Streets photo shoot)
LR: If the opportunity were to ever arise, which top 3 artists would you like to work with?
TS: Mmmmmmm, isn’t that a million dollar question. If we were forced to choose it would have to be: Method Man, Apathy and Pharoahe Monch.
LR: What would you list as your accomplishments so far?
TS: We’ve had the opportunity to perform at 2 Grahamstown National Arts Festivals
2014/15. Last year we also hosted our own event called “the Community”. We had the privilege of performing at a charity event called “Raising Aiden” which was to raise funds for a little boy who has a rare condition called Costello Syndrome and having him right in front of us jamming to our songs was one of those fulfilling moments. In 2014 we opened the stage for the international world beat-boxing champion, Tom Thum (AUS); and Last year we shared the stage with the indie Hip Hop juggernaut Sage Francis (USA).
Our greatest accomplishment is the creation and implementation of the initiative called “The Community”. We set out to provide a platform for local artists, big and small, to showcase their talents and use their craft as a tool to uplift the local community. There is no cover charge and all we ask of the audience is to bring through any old clothes to donate towards the less fortunate. The clothes are then distributed through the “Street Store” concept. The support from spectators and artists alike has been mind-blowing, a simple reminder of the power we as individuals hold to instigate change.
LR: What has your experience of the South African music industry been like?
TS: It’s been great! There’s always going to be up’s and downs, a bit of beef here and there but you just gotta brush it off. If you’re going to let situations or people get to you and bitch (I can say bitch right?) and moan, then you should just stay out the business. It’s been challenging in terms of trends, there is a certain expectation of Hip Hop music in S.A., that everything you produce should conform to a certain state of mind. Just by living our passion we find solace in putting out music that resonates with the masses. Something people can genuinely relate to.
That said, South African music is trending globally right now and the music industry is growing at an exponential rate. Every day the opportunities and possibilities are expanding and it’s an honour to be a part of it.
The local artists we’ve met and performed with along the way set the bar high, which just makes us hungrier and motivates us to do better. The real beauty in SA’s Hip Hop industry is the revival of the culture of REAL Hip Hop.
LR: What can people expect from your forthcoming EP?
The EP is titled, “Say What You Must” and that’s precisely what we’ve done. We’ve been brothers for many years now, and heads even longer. We’ve been speaking about this since we first met and although we’ve done solo work, when we decided to join forces and make this happen, it was all those years in the making that culminated to this point, our opportunity to express what’s on our mind while encouraging the listener to do the same. That rough, rugged and raw all mixed into one concoction, it’s an old school feel that keeps it real, old school synths and new school bop that influences you to speak freely and Say What You Must! This being our first offering as a duo, we wanted to pay tribute to where it all started and anyone who knew us from back then would understand the subliminal references and the first airing of Halala FM, it’s our way of saying thanks to those who have supported us from the beginning.
LR: Any other events or projects to look forward to from you guys in the future?
TS: The details are still being finalised but we’ll be hosting a launch party for the “Say What You Must” EP. After the EP has dropped, it’s on to the next. We have another EP/mixtape that in the pipelines, we’re still deciding which direction we want to go with it and will feature some of the dopest local artists in the country, as well as our debut album (eventually, hahahahahahaaahahaha). We’ve also been working behind the scenes with our fellow DOT brethren (Disciples of Truth) as well as other features.
LR: Any special mentions you want to shout out?
TS: Firstly, a huge SHOUT OUT to our long time homie and sole producer of our EP, LowKey Enzo for his sick/dope beats as well as his tireless patience and commitment to making this project come to fruition. Thanks to our friends and family for encouraging and supporting us along our journey. Big-ups to the homies S!ck and Tazz (our features, go check them out) for jumping onto “Say What You Must”. Special shout out to the homies Black Jesus and Cyclops T. Mad love to Lavatory Records for pushing the culture and for showing us some love and giving us this opportunity. Most importantly, and as cliché’ as it might sound, shout out to the fans from Day1, without your constant support, we wouldn’t have been able to obtain the results we have achieved thus far.
Peace, love, respect and SAY WHAT YOU MUST!!!