EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kwesta On Making Music During Lockdown

..and you could win a chance to rap with Kwesta!

By  | Apr 24, 2020, 10:36 AM  | Kwesta  | Top of The

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Staying in has become the new going out and social media platforms have become the new groove hotspots, all because of the national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In an effort to make staying home more fun, Jameson Irish Whiskey is bringing the perfect night out into Mzansi living rooms with Jameson Connects: The Stay Inn, a playbook of live virtual events - performances, comedy, and discussions - that will take place over the next four weeks, anchored by award-winning rapper Kwesta and local funny man Glen Biderman-Pam.

Jameson Connects: The Stay Inn, kicked off last week and consists of three virtual shows per week which will be on Instagram Live, IGTV (Instagram TV), Facebook, and YouTube.
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Last week Saturday, April 18, award-winning rapper Kwesta gave the first Smooth Session Saturday performance and boi, did he give it his all, he was even jumping on the chair.

In an exclusive interview with ZAlebs, the Spirit hitmaker broke down the in's and out's of his fire virtual performance and the rapper does admit that in the beginning, it wasn't an "easy thing" but he eventually remembered his love for performing.

The rapper explains that in his head, he is used to performing to people that he can see and is able to see their real-time response to his performance and with the live stream performance it is a bit awkward performing just to camera, however, the real-time comments kind of pushed him to get into the zone.

"Knowing that people are responding and saying things, kind of pushes you and also you kind of snap into the fact that you remember I enjoy doing this," says Kwesta

"As I was doing it, I started getting into it and having fun and forgetting that I probably look like a crazy person doing it. But I ended up snapping into the fun and decided to just ride with it and I eventually got into and enjoyed it," he adds.

Kwesta chose to participate in the Jameson Connects: The Stay Inn as this was an opportunity for him to "connect with people" and also engage with people and perform and talk to other artists.

"For me, that’s the opportunity to kind of ease the stress of the reality that we are facing in lockdown and can’t really move. So that entertainment value goes a long way for the mind if the mind has been behind four walls all this time, you would like to see some of your favourites," says Kwesta.

He believed in the concept, making it easy for him to decide to be apart of the campaign and he also couldn't pass up the opportunity to give upcoming rappers a chance.

The Jameson Stay Inn has launched a competition aimed at upcoming rappers, called Rap a verse with Kwesta, which is pretty much a big deal. Kwesta is all about collaborations so he says this made the campaign perfect on his end.

Kwesta says that the competition will help people ease from the stress of being in one place by having some fun and also this is a huge opportunity for rappers who want to pursue music as a career.

"By giving them the idea or sort of the opportunity of being on a song with Kwesta, get to rap alongside Kwesta, even if they doing it for fun."

"There's also the serious rapper who really wants to pursue it as a career and not really trying to do it for fun and this is what he wants, so it’s an opportunity for that so that why I think it’s a great thing," says Kwesta.

At the end of the day, featuring on a song that has Kwesta, is a forever thing and those are everlasting bragging points.

"If they are serious, they can work on it and use it as a point to showcase their work, if they ever want people to hear what they have done and a platform. I don’t think it’s a bad start to just come up from rapping in your bedroom to being on a song with Kwesta I don’t think that’s too bad," says Kwesta.

The rapper adds "I’m just happy to provide opportunities and things for people cause I know what it’s like to have rappers you wish you could work with but now you can’t connect because you think they too far and now we are bringing worlds together. If you think the guy you want to work with is too far, here he is, so we just trying to bridge the gap between the would-be fans and would be sort of artist".
AKA and Kwesta

The Ngudu' hitmaker is probably the king of collaborations in Mzansi having worked with almost all if not all the rappers in Mzansi but everyone still has a wishlist.

ZAlebs asked the rapper who he still wishes to collaborate with and his list includes some Mzansi music heavyweights who are not in the hip-hop game.

Kwesta admits that there is one collaboration he gets really sad about as it never got to happen and that is with ProKid, who passed away in 2018.

"I really wanted for that to happen unfortunately we couldn’t just find the time so now I want to work with as many as I can work with as possible," says Kwesta.

The rapper features on Zonke's song Soul to keep which features on her latest album L.O.V.E and now Kwesta wants to feature the soul singer on his own music, he also wants to work with Thandiswa Mazwai.

"I want to work with Thandiswa Mazwai also. With rappers, I’ve probably worked with all of them so that is why my outlook is alternatives from rap. I know I want Thandiswa Mazwai, Zonke, and also Ringo," says the rapper.

Yes, Kwesta wants to work with Sondela hitmaker Ringo, who is basically a legend in the Mzansi music industry. The rapper explains that he has the song ready for the collaboration and has already spoken to Ringo about the collaboration and it just hasn't happened as of yet.

"He gave me the pleasure of performing at our wedding and we kinda spoke about it but we haven’t gotten into making it actually happen but he seemed like it would be something he would do and that would be amazing if I pulled it off," explains Kwesta.

Kwesta's Smooth Session performance had him stepping into a new arena with him conducting a one-man show and basically being his own technician, reading the comments, and making sure he doesn't talk too much instead of giving his fans, the performance they tuned in.

The rapper does admit it was a bit of a struggle figuring everything out because when the world was all fine and we were allowed to go outside, one does think they are probably a pro at doing something but now he is realizing everything that actually goes behind making the magic but he is learning.

"It’s great that I’m also learning. Even the small things like social media pages like Instagram and things like that, I've never really been out there like that but I knew how to use it like when to post and things like that but now there are other things I am finding out about these things. Oh you can also stretch it and you can also do that so I’m getting the time to learn these things now, so some of this time, being spent at home is also slightly a blessing," the rapper says.

If Kwesta continues on this path, he could possibly be coming out of lockdown being a "musical tech guru" as he is recording himself and even put on a live stream show.

The national lockdown in Mzansi has seem many stuck in their home for the past 28 days and only going out for "essentials" and during this time many have picked up a new skill or brushed up on old skills.

Kwesta says he has been keeping busy by recording all the ideas that he thought wouldn't work, he is now trying them out. He has also been helpful around the household, with his cooking even improving during this time, well it's not yet at the point where he can cook for the whole family but baby steps are key right?

The rapper has also assumed a new role of being a part-time teacher with his daughter Khai doing homeschooling.
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"I’m always calling her teacher asking questions because I’m part-time," says the rapper and he is not the only parent with their child's teacher now on speed-dial.

The lockdown has also forced the rapper to adapt to new ways to making music, with him being fortunate enough to have a home studio he is able to record himself, which comes with its perks and joys.

"Making music by yourself you can at least take the ideas as far as you want without sort of thinking, eish what is the engineer gonna say if I do like this and another great thing I’ve become better at recording myself cause I wasn’t so, I’ve improved I’m starting to mix here and there."

Kwesta also explains that Zoom meetings and facetime have become the new way of doing things, he and his team having to adapt in order for things to get done.

"So all the music I make I go "Hey Tshego I’ve got something for you check your email", then he will find it and do something on it and then send it back and then I send it back and forth. So that’s pretty much how we are working right now," says Kwesta.

Kwesta explains to ZAlebs that it's important that people adapt as it's very easy to slip into depression and insanity especially with so many normal things being affected.

"Your wellbeing from an entertainment point of view and your wellbeing from a professional point of view, that you can’t go out there and really hustle the way you would, its better because face to face you can’t go and find that job, things like that. So you have to find a lot of things that are online and you have to adapt to the online world right now at this point that the world is at a standstill the online world is really moving."

There are still a few more weeks of the Jameson Connect: The Stay Inn and with each week there is something to look forward to from conversations with other artists every Wednesday, where fans will get to hear how the lockdown is treating them and on Sunday's Glen Biderman-Pam will be bringing the funny with a special guest, last week was Tumi Morake and this week Eugene Khoza will be bringing the funny.
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"This Saturday for the smooth session we have K.O performing, he's agreed to grace us with a performance at his household it should be incredible and also in the other weeks the other artists will be announced in time so I don’t want to kill the anticipation but they get bigger and bigger and it gets better and better and more interesting as we go," says Kwetsa.

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So if you needed a reason to tune in to the Jameson Connect: The Stay Inn there you have it.

To enter the Rap a Verse competition read more here.

Image credit: ZAlebs

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