Cassper Nyovest who recently linked up with Ebro Darden of Apple Music Beats One talked about how Kanye West serves as a major inspiration to him. Cassper also talked about African hip-hop, his origins and more.
Read excerpts from the interview below.
On Kanye West and Inspiration
Kanye—College Dropout. Like, my whole believing in dreams came from that album, you know? He’s a dropout—I dropped out when I was 16 as well—and I opened my own record label, and for me to be out here years later and still doing it, and still making history—all comes from believing in myself and being such a believer in God as welI because of “Jesus Walks”—not because of “Jesus Walks” but—I just really—I really related to his aura at that moment, you know what I’m saying? So, he’s been a very great inspiration all my life, and just being someone who stands out—not afraid to be yourself, even though people judge you or whatever—and always just breaking boundaries, like—Kanye has been a very great inspiration to me.
On the name Nyovest
Growing up, I was a big fan of Pharrell. The In My Mind album, he used to go “yezzir” on every song. So it actually started as “nyoverrst, thats how it started out. I had to put a South African accent to it, and then it came out as “nyovest”. And then when I had— I opened my Facebook profile—you had to have a sir name. So I just put the Nyovest there because it’s a word that I made up, and then people just started calling me Cassper Nyovest because of Facebook. Then I just ran with it.
On Hip-Hop in South Africa
I think the first station to play hip-hop in South Africa was Bop Recording Studios in Tswana, the Northwest—that’s where I’m from. So—well it started I guess with people trying to be cool, because—we had Kwaito music—thats our hip-hop. And then you had suburban kids who related to hip-hop more. And then we had a clash between Kwaito and hip-hop, which is basically the same thing, it’s just that hip-hop is from America and Kwaito is from South Africa.
Kwaito sounded more like Dancehall—yea, so it’s a bit slower. But if you listen to the content, like, these guys were rapping about the same things. It started blowing up crazy and now it’s the most dominant genre in my country. So it’s through Kwaito, now through us—because we grew up listening to Kwaito, and we are the ones who kinda merged that sound, and the content, and those hooks—and we sampled those songs and we put them into like, trap songs and, um—we made it more interesting for the kids. And then also the elderly who grew up listening to Kwaito—[they] were able to just enjoy the music together.
About “Tito Mboweni” (Premiere)
“Tito Mboweni” is the leading single—it’s a trap song. “Tito Mboweni” means money, but it’s actually someones name. He was the first black governor of the reserve bank. In the hood, that’s like slang for money, when you say tito mboweni.
About how Atlanta has influenced the music in South Africa
You know, South African hip-hop is basically on par with everything thats going on in America in terms of production, you know? So whatever that’s popular in Atlanta or America is probably popular in South Africa because of the internet, and just because of how much western influence we have on our country. So—that’s why I keep on saying trap, because right now trap is the sound.
Talks about the story of fans championing him on his social media
There’s a bit of a story, but yea. There’s this rivalry i guess—there’s like beef to it. Me and one of the dudes didn’t really get along like a while ago. It’s a long story. I don’t like talking about it because—then the whole headline of this interview is gonna be [bringing too much light to that instead of the music]. But the other thing is like, I’m the biggest from where I’m from, so when you speak about hip-hop music in Africa, you have to start with me.
Talks about Performing at One Africa Fest in Brooklyn
For me , it was very exciting because—to be performing at a predominately afro-beats festival and be a hip-hop act, and just to be embraced as I am—because a lot of people are trying to jump on the afro beats wave, and I always tell my friends that these afro beats artists have been working for so long, grinding for so long. They’ve been ridiculed, they’ve been laughed at, and now that they’re shining everybody from Africa or who has an aunt in Africa is trying to jump on it like, “Yo, I’m also from Africa, I can do afro-beats”. I’m not one of those. I just decided Im’a do what I do and that’s hip-hop music, and for the wave to embrace me like that is really really dope.
Talks about making “Ng’yekeleni”
I got to be in Studio with him [Black Thought] and I got to see a master at work man, I had never seen anything like that in my life. He recorded 2 verses in about 30 minutes and had me pick the one I liked. I was so intimidated i couldn’t even finish the song that night, because I’m like—he’s such a master— and he didn’t even want to do that song, he was like “Yo,” you know “We could do…”— he played a lot of rap songs and I was like—the one thing I’m not gonna do is jump on like a boom bap song with Black Thought because I’m just gonna get eaten up so, maybe just try some, you know—trap sounding vibe that I’m comfortable on.
He was like “Yo, whatever”. He wrote the song—same content on 2 verses peaking about the same thing, and mentioning my name on both verses—and had me pick the verse, and he slept while I was writing. Thats when I realized that, you know, I’m like 20 years away from winning a Grammy—because I thought I was gonna win a Grammy one day in my life until I was in the studio with a Grammy winning artist—and I was just like, it’s another level of operating—his mind, he’s a genius.
Yea you should listen to that record. Thats like—that’s the one thing that nobody can do like me—you know, when I rap in my mother tongue [Tswana] and mix it with English.
About the name of the album
All my albums I name after family members. my first album was named Tsholofelo, which is my little sister because she gave me her last like, lunch money for me to travel to the big city of Johannesburg when i started this rap thing. So I named the album after her just to let her know that I didn’t forget the sacrifice she made. My second album was titled Refiloe, which is my name, and that’s the sequence that we were born in—so my little sister and then me, and then my eldest sister Thuto. I had an older brother who passed on—I’ll probably— that’ll probably be my last album—the day I make my last album.