From Durban, South Africa, to Def Jam Records, multi-platinum selling South African superstar rapper Nasty C is back with his third album, Zulu Man With Some Power, and international success set firmly in his sights.
With his name fully established in his native country, Nasty C has been steadily expanding his horizons with collaborations with the likes of Major Lazer, his hero T.I., A$AP Ferg, French Montana, and several other major names from the USA.
“I really started taking this seriously when I started getting paid as little as 70 or 100 bucks,” Nasty C says, from his home in Johannesburg. “And then things really started to take off for me when I released Juice Back. People started recognising me and calling me by my artist name, even when I was still in school. I moved from Durban to Jo’burg, and things just changed for me forever.”
And things would only change further when behemoth record label Def Jam Recordings added Nasty C to a roster that already includes Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Rihanna, and several more of the biggest names in music.
“We started travelling more to try and establish a global footprint,” Nasty C says with regards to seeking recognition beyond the African continent. “Anywhere we could beyond Africa — we went to Japan, the States. In the States, we would always be networking and trying to link up with people. A lot of dinners with different people to try and figure out a strategy.”
When I ask for Nasty C’s inspirations, it’s many of the usual suspects such as Kendrick Lamar and T.I., but I do manage to get him to pay homage to some of the UK rappers who have been giving the American heads a run for their money.
“My favourite UK artist is Octavian,” he says. “But of course I love Skepta, Giggs — I actually got to meet one of the O.Gs, Dizzee Rascal; we played a lot of music and talked about South Africa and the UK.”
We then discuss how rap is so dominated internationally by the United States and the United Kingdom respectively: the former pumping out so much hip hop and trap; the latter the birthplace of grime music. We agree that more cultures becoming involved can only be a beneficial thing. And with several South African rappers like Nasty C, Moonchild Sanelly and Yugen Blakrok announcing themselves on the international stage, it’s about time that rap became more represented.
“Yeah man,” he agrees. “We’re just trying to take South African rap to as many places around the world that we can. A lot of people think that all we, and Africa in general, have to offer is afrobeats — we’re trying to change that stereotype.”
The singles leading up to the release of Zulu Man With Some Power have ranged from club banger Palm Trees to the link-up with hero T.I. on They Don’t, a song with a deeper message about race relations, prophetically written some time before this year’s global #BlackLivesMatter protests.