From Across the Border
Mozambican rapper Laylizzy stopped by The Gusto Project to talk about his career as it stands and how it started. The 28-year-old appeared calm, cool and collected. Being a hip-hop artist from Mozambique, was what was of interest here.
As far as hip-hop in Africa goes, is there a central hub? Some might say it’s South Africa. Others may say it’s Nigeria or DRC. Since its birth in the early 70s in the Bronx, hip-hop has spread to all corners of the globe and taken on various forms. No specific group of people controls hip-hop or how it is exhibited. No doubt it was a struggle for Laylizzy to gain recognition as many are unaware of the hip-hop scene in Mozambique (I know I am). Through dedication and hard work however Laylizzy has and continues to make a name for himself.
His latest single “Hello” features AKA, one of Mzansi’s most popular hip-hop megastars. One of the unique points of interest surrounding Laylizzy is the fact that he has a Masters, in Business Law. That is not to say that one cannot be a rapper and be academically educated. That is a silly notion. However, it is not a common occurrence. You are more likely to know about your favourite rapper’s economic status and how many women he is “entertaining”.
Rapping about your academic history does not make for good record sales, let’s be honest. Laylizzy himself explained how he was criticized for rapping solely in English in the beginning. At the time Laylizzy had dreams of signing with the likes of Atlantic and Def Jam. Therefore, he felt the need to adhere to “their standards”. Rapping in Portuguese or Portuguese and English wouldn’t work, right? But why not? Hispanic rappers such as B-Real Fat Joe and Big Pun (deceased) have incorporated Spanish into their music many a time.
It was after studying in London that Laylizzy decided, in his own words, to “get back in touch with my roots”. From that point he began to explore the use of Portuguese in his music. This was a positive move as it gives the listener some sort of imagery as to who they are bopping their head to, where they come from and what they are all about. This is important. One is unlikely to experience such, listening to Iggy Azalea for example. The Australian native sounds like she is from Atlanta and raps nothing about the Australian experience or hip-hop scene. Then again it depends on who the listener is and what tickles their fancy (little hip-hop humour there).
Laylizzy was asked by Gusto Project host Simphiwe Petros, what the future looks like? “The future looks bright”, was Laylizzy’s response. From his persona and the words he spoke, one can definitely buy into that prospect. When Laylizzy said “the future looks bright” you could really see it in his heart and eyes (even though he had shades on the whole interview).
The sky is the limit for Laylizzy and The Gusto Project, one of many launching pads for him and artists with that persistent drive and hunger.
By Josh Mphuthing