Johannesburg artist Michael Bopape aka Miikah produces dreamy hip-hop that appeals to all music tastes. The 17-year-old South African high schooler is likened to other eclectic alternative and hip-hop artists like Kid Cudi, Raury, and Isaiah Rashad, but Miikah’s music is not so much his focus as it is his outlet for spiritual and philosophical enlightenment through modern sounds.
The eight electronic hip-hop tracks off Miikah’s NegativeXero EP, released last month, reflect Bopape’s mindset, which is trippy, heady, and beautiful. It’s incredible how an artist this young can sound so assertive, but I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing a lot more from Bopape.
A note on the EP via African Hip Hop Blog: “‘Prelude of the Compendium’ draws inspiration from 90’s alternative free wave music and curing the concept of flying in this world, bringing to light the concept of the ‘Sypabong’, a term coined by Miikah, relating to an object, emotion or abstract that is not able to exist in the current realm of existence, being too complex to occur, fathom or vibrate… This song is a plea to God to reach the frequencies which enable the youth to find their Ikigai and seek truths beyond the simple realm humans dwell on…”
Cape Town’s OBie Mavuso is a black and queer artist making a stand against the perception of alternative (specifically non-straight or non-male) artists in South Africa, and she has the songs to back her up.
The 25-year-old songwriter, filmmaker, and curator of Jam That Session and Queers On Smash, is a self-described “hip-hop soul singer” who sings over minimalist beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Life Of Pablo. On “Cosmic Fire,” my favorite Mavuso track so far, she sings like a mellow Laura Mvula under a Jamie xx-like beat. But her refusal to be boxed into any one genre reflects her mission to make South Africa’s very straight and very male music scene more inclusive.
“I think it’s up to me to try and change how people view the ‘alternative’ being,” Mavuso tells Okayafrica. “Power dynamics are something that the local scene is still struggling with. Change is not easy to accept, but promoters and the media can start by including a wider range of musicians and artists in their line ups and write ups.”
Mavuso describes her latest release, the three-track EP Cosmic Fire, as “A journey through my mind and being, barely making sense of things, but so aware of things that have to change, and things I can change.”