The biblical Abraham was a patriarch who had no place to call home. He was forever searching for fresh grazing fields for his large livestock. It is now on biblical record that Abraham became the great grandfather to the Messiah, the son of Joseph and Mary and the Son of God. Christians say it is only through him that human beings can reach God and sleep with faith that their prayers have been heard.
Co-incidentally Mpumalanga’s own hip-hop exponent and rapper Abraham Dibakwane (23) fits the profile of the travelling man who told his girlfriend that he will be gone ‘til November in Wycleff Jean’s Gone Til November song. Abraham, popularly known for his stage name of AB-Crazy’s production outfit Octave Couplet has been nominated for a Channel O Music Award. Channel O is the premier music channel in South Afrika with a variety of sounds for every genre in Afrika. The award nomination follows shortly after they scooped the flagship hip hop publication Hype Magazine Award for the best production crew early this year.
AB-Crazy has already worked with and done some production on mainstream releases of many hip hop heavyweights in South Afrika. “Amongst those that I have worked with is Khuli Chana (TheMotswakoOriginator), HHP (Acceptance Speech), Tear Gas, Molemi and many others”, says AB. Of the prominent groups he has worked with Khuli Chana went on to scoop the Hype Best Newcomer Award - so in a way it was AB's night. About the experience Chana told Hype, "I was dragging my feet. We were in the parking lot about to go into the venue. I didn't miss the moment thanks to Don Juan (Octave Couplet). He had me on speaker phone when my category was announced. I didn't know my category would be the first one up for the evening. I was listening on my speaker phone when they announced my name. I lost my mind and wasted more time celebrating".
AB's versatility as the man infront and behind the mike was noticed during the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening game between South Afrika and Mexico. It was at a fan park in Thulamahashe where he performed with his rap crew where they sang We Win Again. “That helped expose him to the public as a producer and rapper. It also was one of his biggest pay cheque”, adds his agent Tumisho Malomane, who is the former manager of indie rap label Warfare Entertainment.
AB is known for his habitual use of classic samples to give his sound a unique 70’s and 80’s feel. His repertoire includes hits sampling artists from the Motown era and beyond. However his use of samples is not limited to overseas icons as he also does justice to hits from the Sophiatown generation like Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya. Some people are cynical when they get told that Octave Couplet did the first Forever Young before Jay-Z had his on the charts.
Some music pundits have compared AB's artistry and production skills to those of US’ Kanye West and Pharrel Williams. They wonder how loony he'll go behind a G-Series if he was afforded the opportunity to work behind such a celebrated sound board. “The advantage that AB has is that he sings quite well too. So ontop of being an award-winning hitmaker he also provides hooks to musicians”, adds Malomane. AB's other advantage is being an Afrikan where music is part of the cultural heritage and every season - pain, joy, excitement and trauma.
His singing skills become more evident in Sabie artist Flexi’s debut CD Flexibility, his own Gossip Folks Mixtape and a number of songs he produced for his brother Kopano ‘KP’ Dibakwane. “I wanna make it big like Pavarotti/ and switch from a Black Label to a Peroni”, he says in his song Gossip Folks. While braggadocious lyrics are his hallmark, it's not on such songs that his skill stands tall but on some of his heartfelt deliveries with his mother as the theme. "Enough talking about my mother being in hospital/ i'm on Hype Magazine why don't you talk about me", he flows in a nasal tone reminiscent of the US Southern drawl.
He already has in his stable a Lydenburg based Sepedi rapper named Oscar and isiSwati’s Flexi. Oscar tends to romanticize soulful beats and lacks the vulgarity of KP. Exhibit would have said he 'fails to strangle a beat'. “Our plan is to release an album titled Homecoming this year and target the mass market”, says Malomane who says AB’s G-Town hit, a dedication to Graskop might also be included in the album.
The Gossip Folks Mixtape was sold out within a month of its release. “Homecoming will be my first mainstream release after a few years of making hits for South Africa’s heavy hitters”, AB says. AB often says he's the New Testament and it seems he's not bluffing. He also brags that hip hop is an old school and he's the new student 'i'm so profound just check my profile'.
He is confident that when his Octave Couplet outfit mounts that stage in November to accept the Channel O award, the whole province will be behind him – the same way it supported Sdunkero when he controversially scooped Best House album at the South African Music Awards. You can swear he'll be gone til November and return home with an award!
Homecoming will be out in a few month's time. Start saving that money and support local music.
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