So determined is he to fill up stadiums around the country, he’s been dubbed 'Abuti Fill Up'. In fact, his ability to get bums in seats earned him the best promoter and best hustler gongs at the recent SA Hip Hop Awards. With all the money he’s making from his concerts, it’s no surprise Cassper Nyovest is dripping in designer clothes and gold when he pulls up at our offices in his Bentley. Yet, he hasn’t been laughing all the way to the bank, he reveals.
"This year was bittersweet," Cassper tells us. "I made the most money I have ever made but I also lost a lot because I had to pay the taxman."
So, there’s truth in newspaper reports he owed R3 million to Sars, we remark. "I owed R13 million in fact. They reported that when I had already been paying my instalments," he says. "I was filing my taxes but my accountant made a few errors. "The company I worked with had big accounts, my account was the smallest and I felt they neglected me a bit," he continues. "I didn’t know much about tax, but when they did an audit they sent a junior accountant to assist me. So, when Sars called me in, he couldn’t answer some of the questions."
Cassper was shocked to learn he owed Sars R13 million. At the time, he was settling a debt of R7 million, which he accumulated during his drive to fill up Moses Mabhida Stadium. "When some KZN artists complained about a Tswana guy getting sponsorships in their province, some of the sponsors pulled out," he explains.
"Luckily my assets weren’t repossessed." But Cassper still can’t get over all the hate. "Someone I considered cool asked me what a Tswana boy is doing in KZN. I never knew there were still tribal wars and so much ignorance in our country. I assumed everybody would love Cassper." However, it hasn’t stopped the Mahikeng star.
"At home I don’t need to deal with the politics and hate," Cassper says.
When he started the Fill Up concerts six years ago, he wanted to blaze a trail. "I wanted the African child to dream because often we are told we are second best. People like Dr Tumi have been inspired by my dream and are doing a similar concept with the Word of God. That brings me joy," Cassper says. Having started with 20 000 people at Ticketpro Dome, he sold out Orlando Stadium and 68 000 people bought tickets to see him live at FNB Stadium, his biggest turnout so far, in 2017. He’s inspiring others but is also learning along the way, particularly about how to manage his finances.
“I’ve learnt not to talk too much about money, or the taxman will come for me again. But I will never stop flexing, I’m a flashy rapper," says the muso, who also makes money from his work as a brand ambassador. The self-confessed big spender has been accused of being tight-fisted with his community.
"In the beginning I would post giving back or doing charity work, hoping to inspire someone, but I was labelled a show-off and I stopped posting," he says. "Now people are saying I don’t do anything for the community. I do – I just don’t show it."
Cassper pays no mind to his critics, though. "I work hard for the things I have. People who don’t like me will never see the good in me – I’ve accepted it. Even back when I was at a club and that dude whose name I don’t like mentioning [AKA] came and slapped me and I made a choice not to slap back, critics called me all sorts of names. Had I retaliated, I would’ve been called a hooligan."
The Baby Girl rapper has big dreams. Cassper is mentored by the executive chairman of Bothongo Group, Keith Bothongo, after his mother, Muzuki Phoolo, hooked them up. "He’s changed the way I see things. He is teaching me about values, morals, family and discipline," the rapper says. "I want to be a billionaire and not spend every night at Sumo nightclub buying people bottles and arguing over girls. I want a stable life with a wife and kids."
Cassper, who broke up with presenter Boity Thulo in 2015, won’t tell us if he’s dating. "I’ve learnt that public relationships don’t work out. When you have an argument at home and go to an event later, you must pretend everything is okay," he says.
As one of Mzansi’s most eligible bachelors, he’s tired of people poking their noses in his love life. "People will say, 'I don’t like this one, go back to Boity'," he laments. He’s learnt to protect all his relationships, including friendships, particularly his bond with his BFF, comedian Carpo.
"I’ve had so many industry friends who are not in my life anymore. People who I considered brothers, they slept in my mom’s house. But Carpo has always been by my side. That’s my guy," he says. They met 18 years ago. "Our friendship is based on loyalty. He is my pillar of strength. I recently had an HIV scare and he went with me to get tested. That’s the level of friendship we are on."
He may have lost some friends and made some enemies, but there’s no doubt Cassper has had a dazzling decade. "I always thought I was street-smart and my success was a fluke, but when I think about it, it was calculated moves. This year I’ve learnt I am smarter than I thought I was. I am fearless, brainy and intelligent, and I always figure it out."
The rapper, who loves flaunting his ripped muscles on social media, has also learnt to take care of himself. "I’m such an emotional person, even in my relationships, and I wasted a lot of time in beefs. I let myself get too angry. It was such a waste of time and energy.
"I would eat takeaways late in the evening, I would drink beer anytime, but now I workout twice a day. I stopped eating meat a month ago and I feel so good. I sleep better, my skin is clearer. I take care of myself, so I can take care of those I love," he says. Now he’s looking forward to changing things up in the next decade.
"I’m turning 30, so I’m rebooting my life."