Famous for 5 minutes – Tumi Molekane: Post-apartheid poet

2014-06-08 15:00

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Rapper Tumi Molekane, one of the nation’s freshest and most conscious voices, is appearing with AKA and Reason next weekend. Percy Mabandu hit him up via email

When you launched Tumi and the Volume in 2004, rap was still expected to answer to kwaito as the ­legitimate voice of the youth. Now it seems sure of its place. Has a lot changed for our rap artists?

Indeed, we had to fight hard to legitimise our voice as South Africans making hip-hop in a way that jazz or reggae never had to. That is largely because kwaito had established its place as the voice of post-apartheid young South ­Africa, but also because of how much of a global force hip-hop was at that time. It threatened some people.

You were known as a poet, then a rapper and now you produce ­albums and run Motif Records. How would you describe the transition?

Organic. It has been a very natural journey for me. The titles change, but the motivation is still the same.

A lot of your fans still hanker for the format of the original Volume with Paulo, David and Tiago. Will you ever release an album like that again?


You were born to exiled parents in Tanzania, and came to SA during the expectant and euphoric years just before 1994. It’s been 20 years. As an artist, how would you describe our social energy now compared with then?

Largely depoliticised. At the risk of romanticising the struggle, I think South Africa was mostly politically discerning. It’s tough now! Many among us are like those prawns from District?9. But in their defence, everybody needs a little catnip.

Apart from being a dangerous poet emcee with killer punch lines, the street speaks of you as a loving ­father to a daughter. Tell us about this part of your life and how it has affected how you approach the world?


Finally, what set are you putting ­together for the Music In The ­Gardens gig?

I’m really excited to be sharing a stage with two of South Africa’s hitmakers, AKA and Reason. I am going to play all their songs before they get to play them. These young bucks need a lesson.

»?The Old Mutual Music In The ­Gardens event featuring Tumi, Reason and AKA will take place on Sunday, June?15, at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort. Tickets cost R100 online via the Old Mutual Music In The Gardens Facebook page and R120 at the venue. Gates open at 11am and live acts start at 1pm. The gardens have a restaurant and tea ­garden, but concertgoers are encouraged to bring picnic spreads. There’s a kids zone available until 4.30pm and the concert wraps up by 6pm

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