You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing the catchy strains of “Show dem! Show dem, JR! Show dem!” Even the most unlikely fans of hip-hop are singing along.
So it’s no surprise that cellphone giant Vodacom, official sponsor of Bafana Bafana, snapped up the song and incorporated it into the TV commercials that will be used throughout our boys’ World Cup campaign.
“I’m over the moon,” says 23-year-old Thabo Bogopa, aka JR. Still overwhelmed by his success the Pretoria-born rapper has burst onto the scene with his own form of style hip-hop – - beats with cheeky rhymes that make you want to dance your legs off.
Growing up in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, JR had what he calls a “proper township upbringing” alongside his younger sister, Bonolo.
“I always wanted to be a musician. I wanted to go to Pro Arte Alphen Park, which wasn’t the usual schooling for a township kid, but my parents were supportive.”
He studied musical theatre and dramatic arts at the renowned dual-medium school in Pretoria East, which focuses on the arts and hospitality.
In his final year at Pro Arte he began recording demo tapes. He knew he’d never get anywhere without the right contacts so he pursued his performing idols - and his perseverance paid off when he met HHP and forced the star to listen to his demo.
“One night I got lucky and spotted HHP outside a venue in Pretoria where he was performing. He didn’t have much time but he took my CD and we listened to it in his car.”
Clearly HHP liked what he heard and soon afterwards suggested that JR start working with him on some new material. “That was the turning point really.”
Soon he had a record deal with Electromode Music and the result was his 2008 album The Main Event, which was nominated for a South African Music Award (Sama). It was enough to cement him as a big player on the hip-hop scene.
HIS next album, ColourFULL, featuring Show Dem, was released late last year and it gradually crept its way to the top of the charts.
“I went to a club in Melville and people on the dance floor were saying the words ‘show dem’. It’s just something coloured people do when they’re in clubs, having fun and dancing. So I had an idea to put the words into a song.”
JR roped in comedian Joey Rasdien and mentor HHP and together they produced what is turning into one of the biggest songs of the year.
It’s clearly works. And when foreign tourists head back home after the soccer spectacle hopefully they won’t just be able to do the diski dance - they’ll also know how to “make the circle bigger”.
Read the full article in the YOU of 10 June 2010.