Hip hop artist, Sizwe “Reason” Moeketsi has taken his songs from ciphers to the Samas. Helen Herimbi looks at the rise of Reason.
If he looked down at his belt with piano keys as motif that prevents his pants from falling, Reason could tickle the ivories. But he’s not tickled.
“It was cold, yo,” he says, remembering his Rocking the Daisies debut. “My lips were numb for the first song. Before I went on stage, Laudo Liebenberg (of aKing) asked me if I do mouth exercises and I said: ‘Dude, I’m a rapper!’ So yeah,” he cracks up.
That was the first time Reason learnt about mouth exercises. For a rapper who only received mainstream acclaim last year after the release of his second album, Audio 3D, through Motif Records, Reason has been experiencing many firsts. Rocking The Daisies. The South African Music Awards and Channel O Awards nominations. Oppikoppi. So how did the star of a township kid who isn’t part of Skwatta Kamp rise to where he is today?
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, I’d always hoped I’d get here,” he says.
“Here” sounds like a million miles away from where it all began – as a teenager hustling demos.
Proverb, rapper and Idols SA presenter, remembers: “There were lots of rappers who regularly dropped off jingles when I was a technical producer at YFM back in 2004. Reason came through with Sthethoscope – who produced my first album – and that’s when I met Reason. He had an edge over the rest. He was hungrier, raw and the content was always smart.
“I’m not surprised about where he is now because you can only contain talent like that for so long before it explodes.”
In those days, Reason played hype man for Proverb who introduced him to Outrageous Records’ in-house producer, Battlekat, and artist manager, JJ Sesing.
Outrageous Records was the musical component of iconic youth culture brand Black Rage, which was owned by Maria McCloy, Kutlwano Skosana and Dzino.
“He was smart, witty and had something to say so he was a natural fit for the stable,” comments Dzino.
Then Black Rage shut down.
“It had become natural to hang out at the Outrageous Records studio in my late high school and early tertiary years,” says Reason, “but eventually, I started working on my own music with Battlekat’s imprint, Beats Against the Beast, but that didn’t work out and I still had itchy feet to release music. So the producer, Instro, and I released my first album, The Reasoning, independently through Instro’s Promise Land Productions.”
Reason built a buzz through battle raps, performances and songs on radio. But, as Instro remembers, “there was no one willing to give Reason a chance at the time. Most even thought his time was up. I still had connections with distributors so we decided to take the chance and release The Reasoning ourselves.”
This debut album didn’t move units, but it moved rapper/poet and Motif Records co-owner, Tumi Molekane, to sign Reason.
“I noticed his talent and drive,” says Molekane. “You could see that it wasn’t getting the respect it deserved. Reason’s years at Outrageous Records served as his industry training, he was ready to listen and apply. To activate his gift. People downplay training day.”
So 37MPH, who produced Jozi and JR songs among others, was roped in to work on Audio 3D,while Battlekat and Instro also have production credits on the album that contains smash singles like Tla Ko Bone, A Lot on my Mind and, of course, Do it Like I Can.
“That was one of last songs we did on album,” 37MPH shares.
“(The Motif team) said they were missing what is called an ‘identity record’ in America so I went into my studio and realised Reason would be a good fit for Do it Like I Can. Reason is a blessed guy, has a great PR team around him and the most trusted sound engineer. I’m going to pitch three songs for his next album.”
Reason’s third album will be his most personal. He’s let us in on the struggles of maintaining a relationship when you’re a touring rapper (The September Freestyle) and having to bury his son (No Sleep Remix).
“The third album is more honest, more brave,” Reason confesses.
“I’m a 26-year-old African man with a wife and two children, even though I lost one. I started in battles and ciphers and performing where at least 50 percent of the crowd also raps, which is harder. In battles you get sh*t on and that builds you and makes it easier to take it if a guy is crapping on you on Twitter. (This music) is my autobiography. I’m a storyteller and the best story I can tell is my own.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE.