The paths of five young men met four years ago and their love for hip hop became the melting pot that fused them together forming 3rd Wave, a highly talented unique hip hop act. In this interview with Zithelo Mnguni of ZiyawaMag, the young Emcees reveal who really 3rdWave is and what it is about!
When was 3rd Wave formed? Give us a brief background
3rd Wave: We all met at the Meadowlands Zone 2 Park, where we would cipher rap every Friday and Saturday. This was back in 2007 when we were concluding our studies in High School, Solid was the youngest at the time as he was still in junior high school. It was then that we decided to form this unstoppable group.
What motivated you into choosing the name 3rd Wave?
3rd Wave: The 1st wave is considered to be the 1st era of South African Hip-Hop which is P.O.C (Prophets Of The City), Amu, Mizchief, Brasse Van Die Kaap. The 2nd wave is the era that commercialized South African Hip-Hop in order for it to be recognized nation-wide. The artists included the likes of Skwatta Kamp, Proverb, Pro, Tumi and Zubz among others. This leaves “us” to be 3rd Wave, the era that will be the most effective, bringing about change through true artistic direction and balance the new with the old. We are more than just a Hip-Hop crew/band, we are a movement.
Give us a brief insight into the character of each band member
3rd Wave: Solid is an Emcee and producer for 3rd Wave. Apart from that; he is an animator, graphic designer and graffiti artist.
Earl Quiz is an Emcee and is in charge of the public relations department of 3rd Wave. Apart from that; he is also an aspiring actor.
Crusade is an Emcee and producer for 3rd Wave. He is a photographer, script writer, editor and film maker.
Gwaza Juse is an Emcee and producer for 3rd Wave. He is also an aspiring actor, linguist and comedian by the alias of “Pule”.
Pheenix – Is an Emcee and head of the 3rd Wave t-shirt designs. Apart from that; he is an animator and graphic designer.
What is the motivation or inspiration behind your individual rap names?
In my case I’ve had the name Phoenix since late primary school, and it had nothing to do with rap music or art, I was one of the naughty ones in school, not a good listener, till the teacher gave a lesson about Myths, and phoenix was the topic, I was all ears that day, so my friend called me phoenix. Then over the years being a designer/Animator decided to change it to PHEENIX, design purposes.
What is your definition of the hip hop music genre?
In its truest form, hip hop is not in the same category as kwaito or house. It’s actually not even in a class with jazz or rock or soul – it can be any and all of these things, depending on what records you use and what you do with them.
Hip-hop is a specific way of making music using other music (records). Basically, hip-hop is made from samples whereas most other music is made from scratch. The beauty of hip-hop, if you do it properly, is that it forces you to appreciate all of these sounds and varieties of music from different places in the world and different times in history.
What differentiates you from other local Hip Hop acts
Charisma, character and flair, without a doubt! You will see or feel a different energy in our character and 3rd wave carries what we call Meadowlands flair. Italians have their very own standard or style called swagger, 3rd Wave has their very own style called flair.
The thing is, the amount of freedom we have as artists, does not go to waste at all, every avenue gets used 150% and we don’t tone down for anything. We create new formulas, we are way out of the norm and what we create is memorable… History books stuff.
We are unique because we follow our hearts and our philosophy of what we believe Hip-hop is. Hip-hop is a culture a life style and we live it. We are unique ‘cos we don’t let the industry dictate our creative effort. We make money but that money is invested in growing 3rd Wave into a media empire that’ll be well known nation wide and internationally eventually.
What inspires your music? How do you write your songs?
Film, books people and life in general are central to that which inspires us as well. There is really no format on how we write our songs. We sometimes listen to the beat and discuss on a concept then we write to the beat, when it comes to recording, we just lace the track even though there are changes likely to place during the making of the song. Sometimes we write on the spot when in studio. It varies from track to track.
Who is your songwriter?
We are all song writers in 3rd Wave meaning every song you hear is a brain child of each individual in the group. The roles switch every now and then, Crusade will come up with a chorus and we’ll write based on that chorus. The beat maker/producer will say what their vision of the track is and the Emcee will write along that vision/direction. It all depends because sometimes the beat is sample based and that can sometimes dictate the message of the song. Sometimes it can contradict it but that’s the beauty of Hip-hop, rules can be bent if it’s cleverly executed. We are lyricists and that goes beyond the writing process but how one can work with the instrumental and still communicate a message. We juggle metaphors; do double rhyme techniques, rhymes within rhymes, topic rhymes, we can up the pace of the rhyme yet the beat will be in a normal Hip-Hop tempo. We got vernacular rhymes structured to crush your average Kwai’Hop rapper.
Get us up to speed with regards to the 2009 Hype Awards
Having released the Serving Suggestions Ep and managing to push it well independently, we got buzz and a lot of support from it and Hype noticed that so we got nominated for the best Mixtape category. We didn’t get the award even though the votes read otherwise on their website but we valued the recognition and we were proud of that.
Are you doing any collaboration with other Hip Hop groups?
Not for this current project “Table Manners” however the production team is a collaborative effort. We got together beat makers whom we believe aren’t recognized but have a lot to offer to our monotonous industry. Within 3rd Wave is a beat making production team known as Karate Chop Pro (Solid, Gwaza Juse, Charlie Brown and Nkuli). Then we called the outside producers and had them contribute; shout out to N.E.O Beats, JaseOne Fx, Ful-Skilla-Killa, Dynamic, Mr C, King Phonon, scratch extraordinaire Tha Cutt and our resident sound technician and maestro Craig Ross.
“Serving Suggestion”, “Table manners”. What does that mean exactly?
Without revealing much, Serving Suggestion implies what people like and how do they want the music to be as in… Any suggestions? Do you like it raw? Do you like it hard? gangster? funky? street? How do you want it to be served, because we got it all and more. Table Manners follows up with paying respect to the tradition of Hip Hop with all those styles. What you do as an art form must be done right.
As traditionalist as this may sound, it is the only way you can create a distinct sound. It must be drawn from the basis of understanding what it means and what influence it has on people. You need to wash your hands before you get to the table, and say grace before you eat is a figurative sense of knowing your history and paying dues by means of knowing how to write a 16 or chopping records (which the hip hop sound grew from). Table Manners EP is conceptually driven by preserving the history of Hip Hop by preserving the history of the music that helped create it. -Crusade
What are 3rd Wave’s plans for the year 2011 and beyond
We plan on shooting at least 2 music videos for the Table Manners Ep. We are also planning a provincial tour, targeting campuses mainly and local radio stations. Next year we will do a national tour for Table Manners provided the right sponsorship hops on board the Wave hustle.
In your view, how is the local Hip Hop industry different from the international one
The local scene is good but it is small compared to the international one. The advantage of the international scene is that one can get recognition abroad which essentially means international tours. We believe 3rd Wave has potential to rock nation abroad given the opportunity. When we are live on stage we don’t just step up with a playback CD; we rock with mpc1000, a sample and drum machine. The local scene sometimes disillusions artists to think they have made it yet they haven’t really cracked the surface. That’s why we have a lot of weak Hip-hop acts, also because they are disillusioned by S.A media that appreciates overseas copy cats and a/b/c mediocre rappers.
What are the challenges that you have faced and are still facing as a hip hop group trying to make it in the SA market?
The challenge we are facing is that we’re not getting bigger challenges…(Laugh). I will be blunt and I say this with all respect though, media acceptance. As a group we’re trying to get into the market, I believe we are already in the market, but the only market we are not in is the media, in a way that’s sort of a good thing for us because it eliminates the fame issue, I despise fame, but we need media for certain things and media wise, we not there yet.
Do you plan to extend your sphere of influence beyond Mzansi? How do you plan to make that possible?
Yes we do plan to expand and we will. Because we think beyond Hip-hop, we will use other talents in order to become an unstoppable force in the country. Arts, digital arts, acting, film making etc. We are indeed artists, hands down.
Is it true that Nicholas raps in deep Zulu, and how does the audience react? What is Nicholas’ fascination with the Zulu language and how did he learn it?
Shap fede I’m Gwaza, ne? Sho. Yeah I have been known to use that deep Natalturn of phrase at times, hade for the Sotho and Anglophone listeners. One of the best vernacular rappers in the game, Mirus said its best for me, he said “It’s clear that you read”: some of the language and things I’m referring to comes from Zulu literature that I go through for sport, study and pleasure. The work of Sibusiso Nyembezi and BW Vilakazi in particular. I like to think I’m part of that tradition of Zulu wordsmanship, so it comes out every now and then. My father speaks Zulu and my grandfather was highly proficient (was even a court translator at one time.)
Right now I’m trying to crack the code with vernac rhyming. Only Mirus and some few others are with me on that so far.
William what message do you wish to convey to your audience when lyrics flow out of your mouth?
Well, as a starting point: I’m a very playful character, so to be able to have fun and engage with an audience of people and see them enjoying themselves, is more than a message for me. I really stand for entertainment, but the message I convey is, work smart and play hard!
Earl, being the “Battle Emcee”, does that mean you use swear words in your lyrics. Why, or why not?
I am not a battle Emcee. I am an Emcee who is good at a battle of wits, which is what battling essentially is. Battling became a hobby which I became really sharp in, that’s how I earned my street credibility. I don’t battle any more. When a person swears, they are just simply expressing something passionately of which they instinctively used a swear word to communicate it in that moment. -Earl Quiz
Ntando seems to have a passion for film making as well. When does music come in and which of the two is your first love?
I have a passion for both simply because they connect me with the people I work with. The music inspires me to create whatever I hear and then interpret that in a film sense. Without offense, music is for the blind, and film is for the deaf. If you can’t hear then you see what I mean and if you can’t see what I mean then you can hear. -Crusade/Ntando
Mpho what skills have you acquired and polished thanks to the mentorship of your fellow group members?
I’m proud to say since becoming a member of 3rd Wave I’ve acquired the rare skill of the “pen game“ when writing a song. Also I’ve acquired the skill of putting together banger beats. These guys are choosey artists so I can’t just offer them a mediocre beat, the beats can be simple but it must be special. Through that I’ve learnt to take myself seriously and can pass that knowledge to other artists I’ll meet in the near future. -Solid/Mpho
Do you guys have girlfriends? What is their reaction to groupies?
Only three of us have girlfriends, so groupies aren’t much of an issue with us. I think they respect what 3rd Wave is about so they never interfere with our personal lives. We try our best to convert fans and groupies to supporters because supporters build us. With fans and groupies on the other hand, it’s hard to determine where their loyalty lies because they will be there when they see you on TV or hear you on radio and all that glamour but will they be there when times are hard and none of that glitz and glamour stuff is happening? I don’t think so (think about it). -Solid/Mpho
My partner doesn’t have to worry about groupies because she knows what my priorities are. Groupies will always be there but I know how to manage my space and my privacy. I don’t rap to be seen but because I’m an activist, even Steve Biko had groupies but he knew what was important for his course. -Earl Quiz
WHAaAAHAHAHAHAHA! Ummmm… Ummmmmm… Let’s see, well technically I’m single, life of an animator (shaking my head). I’m gonna go with “its pending”. I hope she doesn’t see this ever, coz she doesn’t know this Pheenix character and I wanna keep it that way for a while, Agent-47. Kinda sloppy though now that I’ve mentioned it. I’ve never been in a girlfriend groupie situation, hope I never do (knock on wood). -Pheenix/ William