Meet the Xhosa rap duo from Langa and Lwandle

Sandisile ‘Skillz’ Ntleki and Silindokuhle ‘Slie’ Baka form rap duo Xhosa Tribe. Picture courtesy of the artists.

Zethu Gqola    

Sandisile ‘Skillz’ Ntleki and Silindokuhle ‘Slie’ Baka form rap duo Xhosa Tribe. These lyrical masterminds from Langa and Lwandle respectively have enough finesse and bars to rival iFani and maybe even cause Khuli Chana to break a sweat.

After meeting back in 2012 at Jam that Session, a popular music and creative showcase event, Sandisile Ntleki and Silindokuhle Baka exchanged contact details and started discussing their musical interests.

The conversation took an unexpected turn and they came up with the idea of forming a rap group. “We were discussing hip hop and the scarcity of Xhosa rappers in mainstream music. We then decided that creating something that would represent the Xhosa language and put our culture on a global platform could become quite successful,” says Ntleki.

The only Xhosa artist on his way so far to achieving such status is Port Elizabeth’s golden boy iFani.

Both born in the Eastern Cape, they moved to Cape Town at a young age. Ntleki, 26, is now based in Langa and Baka, 22, in Lwandle. Despite the distance between them they continue to make the music collaboration work.

“It’s hard for us to meet up because we live far from each other and it’s costly, but when it comes to writing songs we send each other beats and concepts, as well as lyrical topics which we then brainstorm. We usually dedicate one day a week to meet up and share what we’ve individually worked on,” says Ntleki.

Distance remains a problem and sometimes gets in the way of productivity and progress. Ntleki believes that if they lived closer together they could have achieved more with their rap careers.

“I recently left my job to focus more on my music and working in the entertainment industry,” says Ntleki. “I’m now an events planner for Parklands Shisanyama and I’m an artist manager for electronic dance music DJ Mondie Mafu and house music producer MasterpieceSA. Silindokuhle just started school, but we’re pushing the Xhosa Tribe movement more than ever.”

With a growing fan base, and support from their communities, their music has begun receiving some airplay on local radio stations, most notably on Yfm.

Xhosa tribe duo Skillz and Slie. Picture courtesy of the artist.

The duo is currently working on their first EP titled Amahlakani Komkhulu, which means ‘guards of the kingdom’.

“We started recording this EP on 12 January and it should be out before the end of March,” says Ntleki. The EP promises a fusion of new generation sounds coupled with traditional Xhosa elements, with jazz, soul, boom bap, gospel and Maskandi influences.

With a collaboration list that includes international rapper Crosby Bolani, Sizwe Yaze and Lunga ‘Phixx’ Xhamela, it’s going to be the first of its kind, hopefully one which will catch many a producer and DJ’s ear for remixing and future collaborations.

Ntleki occasionally raps in seSotho, another African language rarely used in hip hop.

“My friends from the rap group Motswakapa rap in seSotho and Motswako. Motswakapa is Motswako and Kapa fused into one name. They got me interested in rapping in Sotho,” says Ntleki. It adds flair to their sound and the illusion of there being more than two members in the group.

Motswakapa is another rap group making the waves in the townships of Cape Town, and is comprised of rappers T-Mack and Mic Daimaan along with DJ/producer Kayjep.

“We have actually just teamed up with Motswakapa for an event happening on 27 Feb,” says Ntleki. For more info on this event keep an eye on the Xhosa Tribe Facebook fan page and their Twitter page.

2015 might just be the year of Xhosa Tribe, bringing a new sound and collaboration of languages onto the local hip hop scene. Many are sure to find the style appealing and mimic the duos style of rap. To listen to their music visit their Soundcloud.

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