I always chuckle when I read or come across the word Croonery. My mind plays dirty tricks on me and I always imagine a singing bird planted high on a tree doing the most with sweetest hymns while other birds are bobbing away in other branches. Let me fall back though. A crooner is not a bird whistling away in the sunset. A crooner is an actual singer. Think Usher , Justin Bieber, SWV, Tevin Cambell. These are all classic Crooners and award winning Crooners at that. The reason I this topic came into my head is the state of the game and the type of sound we are starting to hear. Forget the trap debate. I am not even there. I have started hearing a lot and I mean a lot of singing on some of the biggest records in 2016. Think of your favourite hits.There is an element of singing and yes wait for it CROONERY.
The art of singing in hip hop is nothing new however. Back in the days guys like LL Cool J would always feature a crooner in their record. The most important thing to note here is how Crooners are starting to do the latter on their own. Globally guys like Drake are always called out for singing in their raps. The conventional hip hop fan prolly cannot fathom the softness that comes with Croonery. Who ever said that singing makes you soft? Damn these . Anyway I reckon that Drake may have paved the way for a lot of singing rappers. Here in SA though Oour case is different. An artists like Ab-Crazy is a true crooner and may have been the guy to cross over in regards to signing and raping. But you cant also discount TearGas and the type of music they were pushing out. Think Mhlobo Wami. K.O is really singing in that record. He does it so effortlessly that i stop and wonder if that was the best K.O. So what have we learned so far. Crooners are running tings, people think Croonery comes with being soft ( Drake Reference) and guys like Ab-Crazy and K.O had the crooner blue print a few years ago.
The exciting part of this piece and the reason you are reading this is the new age of crooners we are being exposed to in SA Hip Hop. As i write this i am sitting on a plane next to a chinese guy who is reading a long ass paper or book. This immediately makes me smart as I write this for you. Moving along swiftly within SA Hip Hop we are finding a few artists who are singing in their raps. I would not label these guys rappers the same way you would not be able to box the type of music that Frank Ocean makes. There is no boxing with these guys. They are singing on typical hip hop beats. Are we seeing well rounded artists who will start to shift the game?
The first crooner is KlY Max. My word this guy is a crooner at heart. Everything about this guy just beams artistry. I wont lie I first heard about this guy on ‘Too Much’ record where he features Riky Rick. Remember my point earlier . Crooners are featuring rappers whereas back in the days it would be the other way round. What I appreciate about KLY Max is the lane he is riding in. His music is very mellow and ride to music. Its so turned down. His latest EP titled KLY Max Reup should not have been given out for free. No ways homie. There are records there that are bound to be huge singles. One of these records that i think crosses over into the singing hip hop crooners list is ‘Just Moxi’. Thixo wami the waves on that record is too much. See what I did there. “2 shots i feel like Just Moxi. My attitude is chilling like Nike shoes”. Ishhhuuuuuuuuuuuu. Lol you can see i am getting carried away. Anyway. The skill of singing and rapping that this crooner displays on the EP is phenomenal. I am a huge fan.
The second crooner and the guy who made me appreciate this type of music is Tsego from Family Tree. Please ask Jude from Family Tree how I went crazy when i lost his “Since 1992” EP that was released for free then they removed the download link. I really went crazy and had to have the EP again. dont ask me why I deleted it in the first place. Tsego is a crooner who displays a lot of skills. He usually raps a lot on raps. Like on ‘Since 1992’ the flows, the swagger, the charisma, the hooks. Its the whole package. I must give props to Jude and Family Tree. They understand the future music listener in South Africa. they understand the very thing i am writing here. That in a few years we will be accepting and going mad crazy over this type of music. Back to Tsego. The one thing which Tsego manages to get right is how his music matches his image. The guy has a label called Voodoo. Damn those caps are so cool. Anyway in terms of the sa hip hop crooner this guy takes it. he makes my list because of his versatility. If you pay careful attention you may note that i am referring to tsego’s earlier work and not the singles that are causing damage right now. I am talking Tell Em Say. “Shout out to the boys and the bucks cause all that matters is the boyzn Bucks”
“I came to harvest they say i grew an attitude”. Young Swiss first hit me up on SlikourOnLife when he asked to be an underdog. We picked up on ‘David Genaro” before the remix. When i first heard the track i was like this cat sounds interesting. He seems to be comfortable doing what he’s doing. Fast forward to the Remix and the recent features on Speedstas’ Mayo’ this crooner is winging the hearts and minds of peeps. Yung Swiss has not released a full length project as of yet but his stand out tracks are ‘Locked Up’. But the track which is causing damage in my ear drums is ‘ The High’ which is seriously wavvy. The raps the hook, the swagger is too much. Look out for Yung Swiss. He’s coming and coming hard at the game.
It is a sin that TellaMan has not been signed yet. Or is he signed? I am not sure but the most out there Crooners with loads of awareness is this cat. If he’s not doing the hook game with Nasty C he is singing his heart out on his latest EP ‘Mind Versus Heart’ which is another tape that have not gone for free. Let me talk about TellAMan and Nasty C. Nasty C is smart by collaborating with this cat. he does it so that he leaves the singing to an actual Crooner. Nasty C is a Crooner and at times i feel he wants to sing more than rapping. You heard Bad Hair? Nasty does a lot of singing. Anyway back to TellAMan. What makes this guy doe are his chorus but I think the real magic is his versatility of being a crooner who can do his thing in vernac. The track i am currently feeling is ‘Hooked On You’ featuring Kid x . Thats a stand out track. Expect to hear more TellaAMan features, he may the first guy to cross the finish line in regards to main stream hip hop. cause lets be honest there has not been a crooner who has gained mainstream success in the game currently.
It’s safe to say that Dot Com was the first Crooner to declare this new age genre in SA Hip Hop. The one thing about Dot Com is he sings and raps but does not do it on hard thumbing trap like beats. The other guys on this list have managed to do this on trap beats because the market is accustomed to this sound and when they sing it makes it even more fresher. But I cannot fault the efforts of Dot Com in regards to his “Love & Liquor” EP.
Here are the list of SA rappers that tinker on being crooners. I had a listen at all their albums and chose the list
In my opinion Artiifact was the stand out album for 2016. These are based on a few things. The concept of what an Artiifact is. It is art, something which is very rare and hard to put a price on. You can hardly put a price on the style and artistry in this album. Anita shines from start to finish. On tracks like ‘Pray For The Children’ Anatti sings so much here that you may be mistaken on why he calls himself a rapper. Another joint where he sings his lungs out are in ‘Akhekho’ which is destined to be a radio smash. So in terms of a rapper trapped in cronnery Anatti is that guy. He sings more than he raps.
Mthembeni is all about that trap sound. And because trap has singing ingredients in it Mthembeni can pass off as a crooner. His debut album Avery is littered with singing, melodies and everything you would not expect from a rapper. I really love the type of sound that this guy has managed to bring into SA Hip Hop. It also does not help that overtime he raps i feel like picking up a cigarette and smoking. Weird I know.
Last but not least Nasty C takes the last spot of rappers who are singing. Nasty C’s story is very incredible. I recall how SA Hip Hop fans were very reluctant to embrace Drake like rappers who sound American. But something happened where fans were more accepting on the Drake like sound. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying the boy wonder sounds like Drake. I am saying that he is to afraid to sing in raps. His debut album ‘Bad Hair’ has a a lot of singing in there. Stand out tracks for me where there is singing are joints like ‘Problems’ ( damn Erick Rush’s verse goes in) , ‘Overload’ featuring TellaMan , ‘Phases’ which to me is a smash nje.
well thats all the stuff I could talk about in regards to singing rappers. I would love to hear your feedback. Hit me up after the jump x the comment box below. Thank you for riding with me. It’s cool to be writing here again. I promise I got more dimes to drop.