The SA Hip Hop Awards are upon us. The award show has grown steadily since inception in 2012. This is why their announcement of nominees this year was met with much enthusiasm and contestation from those that didn’t make the cut. The lyricist of the year category is of a specific interest to Jointz. We take a look at who’s nominated this time ’round.
Look, interpretation of music is often subjective. Especially when it comes to what can be taken as good and what passes as wack. But the criteria for lyricism leans more towards being objective. A great lyricist ticks the right boxes; Content (substance), Delivery (rhymes, flow and breath control), Creativity (wordplay) and Originality. In other words, rappidy raps. Lyricists are the nerds of Hip Hop, the scholars. This list of nominees is dominated by those those. Each of the nominees are lyrical maestros in their own right. Let’s rank them on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being Psyfo and 10 being Stogie T.
First on the list of nominees is Ginger Trill. 2019 was a busy year for Ginger Trill, with two projects dropped. The first EP was done in collaboration with Top Gogg under the name Top ‘n Trill. The EP is called Tales Of The High And Mighty. The EP spots an experimental retro TV game sound while the pair do their back and forth on raps. As far as bars go, that was not the thought behind putting it together.
Shortly after the drop, Trilly released a solo EP – PIF. This time around, he went with a collection of movie scores that come together to paint a whole movie on their own. In contrast to Tales of The High and Mighty, PIF is prime Ginger Trill; great raps, delivery and use of concepts. The lyricism comes out more when he’s less playful. He’s a true spitter.
Lyricism rating: 8
Also hard at work was Jimmy Wiz. Calling him a new comer would be far from accurate. Jim has been around the block. His strong point in both his writing and execution. Great breath control. His verses are clean and they sure do pack a punch and some to spare. In 2019 alone, Jim dropped Look At The Team, a mixtape with Shabzi Madallion and proceeded to drop his debut album Accordin’ To Jim, which was an independent effort.
Jimmy’s lyricism always takes the forefront given the throwback boombap style he chooses to go with. He gets vulnerable and delves into storytelling on the album, which shows his versatility. You get to know Jimmy and his experiences through his music. The one let down from his album is the execution by the chosen vocalists. Something common with rappers of his ilk.
That still doesn’t take away from Jim’s raps. His ability to take on a topic and stay with it counts as another strong point. He did great on A Woman Scorned, tackling gender based violence and not coming off cheesy or fake. He raps his truth. A worthy contender.
Lyricism rating: 8
YoungstaCPT started this year just like he started the one before, he released a single titled Own 2019 (an update to last year’s Own 2018). But this wasn’t the crux of what he was up to, it was just the beginning. Also busy this year, Youngsta matched the volume his fellow lyricists put out, all in one go with his 22-track album 3T (Treaty).
Youngsta gains points with content. He passes for a conscious rapper. Not only is he well-read, he finds was to drop knowledge on his tracks. He draws inspiration from his surroundings and translates the story for listeners to visualise. He chronicles the goings-on from an observer’s point of view and gives a first hand account of all the stories he tells. In true lyricist fashion, Youngsta reps his city at every turn. And no doubt he has garnered their unconditional support. He loses some points for rhyming for the sake of rhyming without much sense to what he’s saying, sometimes.
Lyricism rating: 7.5
King of poetic raps PdotO was not one to be left out this time ‘round. When Jointz caught up with the multi-talented rapper, he alluded to a project in the works that was ready for release at any time, called Cold Waters. Despite that, PdotO spent a greater part of the year on theatre and production. He made the most of the year despite having his belongings stolen at Back To The City. Besides the poetic singles he dropped in 2019, he goes into this challenge with a strong 2018 album titled Under The Sun.
Even though PdotO is good with the pen, his content tends to get repetitive. The same goes for his vocab. His passion is unmatched and he pours his heart out on a track unlike any other.
Lyricism rating: 6
Reason is now known for not getting half the respect he deserves from youngins. Still, his track record makes him a contender to watch out for. His most recent project, Azania, was released in June of 2018. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t pack quite the punch compared to his Audio series of albums. Which seem to have been his peak. Also unfortunate for him, he tends to dumb down quite a bit and that makes puts him on the backfoot in this category.
Lyricism rating: 6
Ginger Trill, Jimmy Wiz and Youngsta CPT have volume of work in their favour – and more recent references than their other two counterparts. This, however, is a category for quality of work rather than just quantity. But whoever has a good balance of both and connects more with purists will surely come out on top.