2001 – 2008 (at a stretch) was undoubtedly South African rap’s golden period. It will never be experienced again. It came; it went. History records as such.
Leading the charge in the mainstream were cats like Skwatta Kamp, Prokid, Proverb, H20, Township Frequency (Amu, Selwyn & Wikid), HHP, Hidden Force, Tuks and a whole host of others. It was magical watching the rise. How talented some of them were is a topic for another day.
The underground scene was a melting pot of talent, with dozens of cats dropping magical projects during this period. Despite resources and platforms limited, the scene was most certainly more vibrant than it ever was and will ever again be.
There was the Hype Magazine (long before it became a rag), there was Rhyme & Reason on Metro FM with Tbo Touch on Saturdays, there was Hush on Channel O, there was Kamza’s show on 5FM every Sunday night at 10 pm. There was, there was, there was…
And who was there through it all? The two Pros: PROkid, Proverb. They were the bridges between the two sides of the same coin.
I come from a very tiny village on the outskirts of Durban where rap was obscure as itself. A friend of mine and I were possibly the only two cats rap-obsessed in the whole area and spent every Saturday at each other’s place discovering and dissecting material. We slowly progressed from listening mainly to the mainstream to spending on time in the underground. Long before the game died (yes, it’s dead).
Last time I saw Prokid was a couple months back … me , him and aka had a freestyle cypher for about 2 hours. Will cherish that moment forever 🙏🏽
— #ImBack (@L_Tido) August 9, 2018
I first heard Prokid in 2005 on a chilly winter’s night while watching Castle Loud (or whatever the Friday night music show was called at the time) on SABC 1. He’s “Woz’obona/Soweto” video was premiered that evening. It was magical to watch. I purchased Heads and Tales the very next morning. I took two taxis to the Gateway Mall for that. The album was bonkers, to say the least. Still bump it to this day – at least once every two months.
During this golden period, I spent ridiculous amounts of money searching for more local rap. Every time I discovered new material, his name featured.
The dude was a cunning battle rapper. The dude executed concepts/themes as a pastime. He appealed to everyone. He was sick.
“Celebrities?” Are you guys serious? We’re mourning as FANS. Like all of YOU. We didn’t know where Pro was personally. Like all of YOU. We didnt know how to reach. Like all of YOU. And now we’re reflecting on what he did for us. Like of all YOU! We all let him down. All of US!
— A Z A N I A 🇿🇦 (@ReasonHD) August 9, 2018
His later projects (DNA and Dankie San) were weak, to say the least. He, himself, has conceded this much. It was not, however, due to his inability but the greed of those paying his bills.
Things spiraled. He went from rapping to presenting dance shows on SABC 1. He lost himself. He sunk into oblivion. And then he died, much like the local rap scene.
This is not how it should have ended
#RIPPro[Note: This is an opinion piece posted by Sihle Manda-Gumede at a personal capacity]