"Sabie My Home My City"

Now, it's not everyday that I get to write about rappers with not only my similar surname but also are bloody talented - talented not in English but in their own vernacular. 23-years old Sabie rapper Mbongeni Mashigo, known in hip hop circles as Flexi has enjoyed heavy rotation on SABC's Ligwalagwala FM for his killer track Afterparties. The track comes from his first album titled Flexability. It explores the ghetto surreality of fun in the sun while its lasts. The funky tracks takes into cognisance that it's not everyday in the townships that people can celebrate.

The 13-track album was produced by Graskop native and winner of HYPE awards best production crew with Octave Couplet, member AB Crazy (Gossip Folks). “I really credit him a lot for his magic touches on all the beats in the album.”. The tracks have that signature AB soul which is characterised by saucy beats on sampled classic hits. In one song he even samples Gill Scott's love anthem.

Flexi is not only the lyricists who will leave you begging for more, he is also outspoken about music in general, “I don’t really have a specific artist that inspires me. I listen to every music that sounds good to me. Either than that I'm mostly inspired by my life, I am what i am because of it. Flexability is a combination of 2 words "FLEXI + ABILITY", clearly stating my capabilities, introducing me and my intention in the industry which is improving the standard of our art.” The saddest fact is that the industry is not kind to artists like Flexi - it fucks with those who are just treating it like their whore and transact their way out of the gutter.

Like many other artists who come from small towns created by apartheid not for residential purposes but to provide a workforce for the town Sabie, which gave South Africa Flexi is far from perfect. Situated in a very cold part of the country which was meant for industrial purpose, Sabie is between Graskop and Mashishing. He says he managed to navigate the drugs, alcohol, violence and domestic hardship often thrown to hustlers bu ghetto living to carve himself a niche in the hip hop industry. Though still new in the game, Flexi has many disciples who follow him and his skills like devout parishioners. I haven't heard anyone hear him rap and leave disappointed.

He originates from derelict Simile, a township in the outskirts of the white town. Even today few Black people live in this small one street town with much of history and heritage. Flexi proudly represents his ‘hood and raps, “simile ma kuyiskorokoro siyifaka mavili/ whoever said simile mina ngithi siyaphambili/ you gave me i’m giving back/ built me i’m building back/ loved me i’m loving back/ watch me i’m watching back/ ‘sandla hamba ‘sandla buya” – You Love Me. [simile if it's a scrap car i put wheels on it/ whoever said simile i say we go forward/ hand-in hand-out]. Simile is Nguni for 'we are stalled'

Flexi fluently punches rhymes in vernacular in a comfortable manner that should discomfort recording artist Prokid of Heads and Tails fame. His use of isiSwati, Sesotho and to a very little extent xiTsonga makes Flexability an all-round album and the artist an all-rounder. “Vernacular is my greatest weapon in hip hop. I express myself and sound better on it than if I would try and sound like I’m from New York. I believe I reach out to more people when I rap in vernac. For an example the fact that I've never seen ‘lobola’ translated into to English tells me we've got our own uniqueness that has to remain what it is,” he says.

One of the songs that stand out has to be Dreamer, which features lyrical assassin KP and AB-Crazy. Here he explores the phenomena of ghetto living whereby people get poisoned at drinking shebeen if they forget their beer bottle while going to the toilet. On Focused Now Flexi’s underlying theme is soccer – which he uses as canvas for hip hop. This track markets him as a ghetto-boy who played soccer not because he wanted to play for Chiefs and Pirates but simply because it's what people in the townships do. Let Flexi Make you Smile is a tribute to a lost mother and a conversation with a young brother. It would make Scarface green with envy. Flexability is a brilliant album which Mpumalanga and to a larger extent South Afrika can be proud of. It's a brilliant addition to the global hip hop catalogue.

Hip hop in Mpumalanga is making its way through to people's attention in an impressive way, we just need to stay more creative to attract more listeners but the most important thing is for people to give us a fair chance to grow by inviting us when hosting events. I was taught by an old man not to forget where i come from because the people there were there on my way up and will be there on my way down no matter where i go home is where the heart is.

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