#INTERVIEW Cassper Nyovest talks collabs with Skepta and Mr Eazi plus more!


South African multi-award winning hip hop artist Cassper Nyovest is the CEO of his own record label called Family Tree and has dropped three studio albums, of which all went platinum. In December last year, Cassper made history again by filling out the infamous FNB 90,000 capacity stadium in Johannesburg.

Cassper continues to raise the African Hip Hop flag high with the official Coca-Cola song ‘Colors’ for the 2018 FIFA World Cup African remix alongside Jason Derulo. On his quest to step towards a much-anticipated international crossover with a series of strong collaboration releases in 2018, Link Up caught up with Cassper during his latest trip to London following another performance at Wembley’s SSE arena for this year’s One Africa Music Festival.

How was One Africa Music Fest this year?

It felt like a completely different crowd to last year. I liked that, instead of the same people every time. I feel like the only way to grow is to play for different crowds. You’re being challenged so you have to approach the show differently.


What made the crowd feel different?

I felt like it was a different energy. It was a more mature crowd. Last year was a much younger crowd. I had fun doing it and also being one of the standouts in a line up that’s fully Afrobeats and me being hip hop. You know, African hip hop.


Internationally, that can get tricky as a lot of people group all African artists into one genre but as a rapper, you don’t consider yourself as an Afrobeats artist…

No, not at all. I’m not Afrobeats at all. I just come from Africa and I’m proud of that movement but I’m not one person to jump on a bandwagon or something just because it’s hot and popular now. I’m a rapper who comes from Africa.


Have you connected with any U.K artists during this trip?

I was supposed to connect with Skepta yesterday but then he got a last minute booking in Spain so that fell through so I’m working on linking up with him. Me and Stef have been talking for years but every time I come out here, she’s busy and when she was out in South Africa, she didn’t stay there for long but it’s definitely going to happen.


You’ve got a song coming up with Mr Eazi which has gotten people very excited, what can you tell us about it?

We linked up here in the studio whilst he was recording and we did a record. We did one song and it was okay so the next day, I went to Rhyme’s studio where he had left a hook there and I really dug that song so I got on it and we finished that so that’s probably gonna be the one that we drop. He’s quite a smart character and he was just letting me know about his story and how he got to move to London and how he’s gotten so big out here and it’s actually a really dope story.


Do you think that SA hip hop can have the same impact in London as Mr Eazi or Wizkid who just did the O2 Arena? It was the first of it’s kind.

Definitely. I believe that we’ve got a lot of talent where I come from and as much as I’m heading it, there’s a lot of people coming up behind me who have a lot of talent and that can create an actual industry or a buzz or a movement because it’s not about one person. It’s about a movement and that’s how it’s possible for people to grow. For Wizkid to do a show at the O2 arena, it’s not because of only Wizkid. It’s because of the people that came before him like Dbanj and Banky W and 2Face. Those guys have laid the groundwork and then he came through this school and he had the guts to say I’m gonna do it.


Similar to how you had the guts to do the FNB stadium

Yes, with me as well, me doing a stadium back home is also because of the foundation that was laid out by other people.


It was very inspirational even outside of South Africa; people all over the world were talking about it just for the face that an African rapper kid sold out a stadium to that capacity.


I think that story translates everywhere in the world. Wizkid doing the O2 arena might have been inspired by something like that. Maybe he had that idea you know before and I’m glad that everybody was inspired by it.


As with anything like that there is always controversy… When AKA offered to be a part of it, you declined. Do you think that restricts you guys coming together in the way that the Nigerian artists have with Afrobeats?

It does because everything is stronger in numbers. There are a lot of guys coming who can help us build it’s just unfortunate that me and AKA have just come to a place where it’s gone too far. It can never be fixed. Me and AKA actually have not only differences but it’s come too far. It’s like Pusha T and Drake. It went too far. Do you think that Drake would ever reconcile with someone who went and said that stuff about his mum and his dad? The part about the secret child, I don’t think is disrespectful, that’s just saying you’re hiding something. That’s personal but I don’t think it’s disrespectful like saying the stuff about his mum and his dad and your best friend is dying. That’s very far and as much as I think it’s hip hop, I don’t think it will ever be fixed so I think that’s with me and AKA.


You’ve been nominated again for the BET awards but said that you couldn’t be celebrate it because of the award shows back home?

What I meant was that it’s useless to be happy about the BETs in America and not fix what’s going on at home because then it’s like you don’t care about where you come from. It’s like coming to London to school here and then you work here and then you die here, you don’t go back home and take all that knowledge, information and experience and take it home. All those skills you could take back home and say, yo, this is what we got wrong, can we fix this and that. I wasn’t saying I don’t appreciate the BET nomination, I was just saying that I would love for the SAMAs to be as great as the BETs are in our country. I can’t not care about my industry back at home.


So you’re coming back to London in September to headline your own show… What do you want your UK fans to expect from it?

If people are looking to find a new sound, new music, people who want to explore African music as a whole, not just Afrobeats should come out to the show on the 14th of September. We’re working on building the catalogue in the next two-three months, I’m gonna be releasing music with people from out here. As much as it’s not 20,000 people, it’s a big deal for me to come and play a venue out in London on my own. It’s such a prestigious venue so we’re definitely keen to do that. We might have surprises but we’re just focused on releasing the records and getting people more familiar with the music. Hopefully, we sell it out so it can just be a dope night of SA hip hop and it could be the first and make everybody else come through hopefully after that you’ll have guys like Nasty C and Emtee come out and play the same venue and we could grow and eventually we could do the main O2 as well.


What is it that you love about London culture?

I love the fact that it’s got a lot of diversity. It’s different African people, Jamaican people who settled here and created this culture of like slang, how they speak, how they dress and I find it very colourful and beautiful because I can relate to it and it’s so weird that it’s in London but I can relate to it and feel like I’m at home. When I’m here, I feel like I’m in Johannesburg. It’s not like when I’m in New York and I’m like yo, I’m in America so London is very close to Africa in terms of the lifestyle and the sound of the music, the accent. The lifestyle is very relatable.


Is there anything else you want your UK fans to know?

I want them to just research about SA hip hop and look out for the songs that are dropping soon. The one with Mr Eazi, hopefully, I’ll drop the one with Skepta and I have a song that’s in the studio now with Krept, that’s almost done and then hopefully I’m gonna drop one with Stef.


Get Tickets for Cassper’s upcoming London show here.

Words by Fanta Jarjussey