Nasty C and why rappers should rap in the language they choose

Faced with criticism about his preferred performance language choice, Nasty C came out guns blazing to defend himself and his work

So let’s cut to the chase. Nasty C is a black South African rapper. He’s real name is David Junior Ngcobo, he’s 20 years old and happens to be Zulu.

In a since deleted tweet, a Twitter user felt that the rapper should perform in Zulu as opposed to English. Nasty C’s response to this sentiment is that it’s “not about the language” or even just rapping but rather a means to “express myself.” Perhaps the most important phrase in his response was that “I’m more expressive in English” but more on this later.

When another tweep co-signed the original tweeps sentiment, Nasty C hit back with an ultimatum: “If you feel you don’t relate or enjoy my music, by all means, stop listening coz u won’t / can’t change it” [sic].

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What should have really just ended there turned into a smear campaign after Nasty C reminded Twitter that he does in fact have a few songs in which raps in Zulu. He asked, “How come they never made it to ur ears?” [sic] to which @MO_kAtz7 responded “They must be trash”. “Hey.. maybe they are.. and maybe that’s the point,” a facetious Nasty C quipped.

When @KagisoLaudino tried to reconcile Nasty C’s performance language choice within himself by saying “We understand that u wanna appeal to the whole world but then again you must never forget where u come from, 100% english rappers never win” [sic], Nasty dismissed this sentiment as an “opinion based”. @KagisoLaudino’s rationale? ”Look at Reason, Proverb those dudes are not as relevant as AKA and Cassper cause they’re songs dont have the mzansi sound in them!” to which Nasty replied simply, “False”.

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Don’t hold your breath thinking all of this will get Nasty C thinking and change his mind. Just ask @trasta_mc. When he asked the rapper to “please dedicate one song to them zulu’s…only one freestyle in zulu” [sic], the response was finite: “Naw.. I know my potential and that’s not where it lies. I’m not here to waste your time with average meaningless raps just to prove points”.

What does it mean for a 20-year-old Zulu boy to pursue a career as a rap artist and spend said career performing in English? What inherent obligations exist that prescribe what it takes for a rapper to ‘win’? What are the things one can do to ensure they make music with that ‘Mzansi sound’? Nothing.

While it may bother some that Nasty C is a black South African rapper who raps in English and has a characteristic American twang to his accent, it’s more a sign of the times than a cause to be up in arms. Authenticity is a big and relative term. The ‘authentic’ ‘Mzansi sound’ is in the first place a flawed ideal since 55 million people live here and find their identity in around a dozen different cultures. Is it authentic to your culture to be wearing the jeans and T-shirt that you’re wearing and while reading this on the iPhone you’re reading it on?

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We live in a global community where influence these days is as easy at keying out 140 characters. If you’ve ever used the words ‘lit’, ‘sway’, ‘bae’, ‘shook’ or the like, you should agree with me now. The other thing you should agree with is Nasty C’s argument: there are countless other rappers on all points of the spectrum ranging from multilingual to bilingual and full-blown vernac performances. Just like Shoprite and Woolworths can exist in the same country and you can freely choose which to shop from, you can also pick the kind of rapper that speaks to “authenticity” which you are after. Isn’t this the rainbow nation we’re after?

Well, what do you think?