Vitu brilliantly raps about experimenting with substances all the while growing up as each track touches on moments throughout his life. Tashreeq Vardien sat down with prolific artist Vitu and spoke to him about his life, his music and so much more in between.
Cape Town – It is somehow impossible not to guffaw when you're in the presence of Vitu – that is what I discovered three years ago when we first met.
Never short of smiling and always attempting to get you to crack a laugh at something silly – which he eventually nails. Hailing from Zimbabwe but dabbling between being a rapper/producer and production coordinator in South Africa – the 26-year-old dropped his debut album Diary of a Broken Kid on 8 August.
The project is reminiscent of early 90s hip hop as he purposefully sampled familiar jazz records with his witty wordplay entwining the beautiful self-produced 13-tracks.
LISTEN TO THE ALBUM HERE:
Vitu brilliantly raps about experimenting with substances all the while growing up as each track touches on moments throughout his life.
He bursts out laughing as I ask him, "Vitu are you okay?" after listening to the album a few times. But when you rummage through the project, you get a sense of young adult veering and figuring out life.
"I wanted it to have that special optimism at the end of it (album). Not just like, 'Oh I'm being swallowed at the edge'. I understand what situation I am in mentally, but I don't believe I am going to stay there forever. I am working on myself," he shares on a call from Johannesburg.
With an artist, inspiration tends to spark at any moment, and with Vitu it is no different as he decided on the title of the album after working on one of the songs.
"I worked on about one or two songs and then the title kind of came to me first. The first song that I recorded was Rick James... I was in a happier place (when writing the song). I watched a lot of the Chappelle's Show, and I was like 'Hey, that is a really cool concept'," Vitu said as he referred to Dave Chappelle's famous sketch-comedy show in the early 2000s, which sadly ended after only two seasons.
"From that point, the second I got the name, I think I locked myself in the studio for two weeks, and I completed the rest of the album – all the writing, production, recording – everything it literally took me two weeks.
"I just had a lot on my mind. I've gone through a lot. Like, a lot of loss, fall out with friends and weird relationships with people. It really consumed me.
"The main reason for the title, I knew I was turning 26 (two days after the album released) and I was like, 'Geez, I've lived for 25 years now, and that is a very long time of living, yet you're still so young'. I was trying to think back... what have I done in my life, what experiences have I made, what choices have I made and what energy have I let into my life that has shaped me into the person I am today."
The album starts off ominous but midway light begins to squeeze through, and you begin to feel as though he is questioning his intention with every move he makes.
"I wanted to be as transparent as possible, at the end of the day, I didn't want to put out an album which was not going to emotionally connect with people. I want people to know who I am as an artist, and I want people to journey with me. I can make fun songs and party anthems, but it doesn't connect with anyone on an emotional level.
"If it's not relatable to anyone, I feel like it devalues what the point of hip hop is to me. Because to me, hip hop is not just about having a good time."
Before Diary of a Broken Kid, he released two EPs - This Time Next Week (2017) and Tapedecks and Vinyls (2019).
Over time, what I've noticed is that through face value Vitu is easy-going, quick-witted and full of humour but listening to his music you get to know a person who deals with real human issues and he articulates and documents that emotion at the highest level in his music.
"I have a lot of work to do personally," he laughs in all his seriousness. "For one, putting things into perspective. Having all these thoughts in my head and knowing what I need to change about myself.
"Knowing what my vices are and where I need to improve. But most importantly, I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to."