With his debut album NNN, an acronym for “Not Now, Not Never” released last May, the young South African rapper delivered bewitching and sentimental rap, oscillating between fragility and joy. “I consider myself a musician, like, I do whatever it is in the moment. Yeah, cause I’ve been a ‘real rapper’ before, like all we do is cipher and spit hard shit (…)” Aggressive rap doesn’t always cut it. popsnotthefather’s album is a celebration of Tantric love and lust. He plays the part of a lover in search of spirituality through the permanent mastery of his energy, which has been hiding behind a relaxed facade, and a perfectionist temperament. Real name Lungani Siseko Mabude, he likes to take his time to polish his musical style, let his lyrics mature, then jump in and take advantage of the energy of the moment. Indeed, many of NNN‘s songs were recorded in one day, in the flow of inspiration.
After being introduced to hip-hop as a child by his cousin digger, Pops developed a keen interest in music and took up the violin until grade ten. But it was his friendship with producer 808x that persuaded him to take up rap. With only a few tracks released following his real first project, the artist quickly gained notoriety – Apple Music gave him promo in their ‘New Artist Spotlight’ for May. Carried by the energy of the studio and that of his high school friend Kayz, his album NNN marks a strong entry into the world of R&B, with a unique fusion of trap-soul and self-tuned melancholy produced by 808x. It has been a smooth start, although the beatmaker now admits that he finds it difficult to keep the flame going without a concert: “Our whole life has been like, you know… our inspiration comes from live shows. And now that’s gone.”
Tseliso Monaheng, who writes regularly for PAM, followed the artist to Johannesburg, and caught up between studio sessions with his beatmaker sidekick. In these moments, Pops revealed some of the keys to his work, and to his latest record, which he hopes to see people “keep on your phone forever, whatever phone you have, from the moment you like it.” He’s on his way and PAM invites you to get acquainted before he hits the big time. Meet popsnotthefather.