AB Crazy has balls. One is green and not as heavy as the blue ball in his left hand, but he’s far from frustrated. He’s never been to a bowling club before, but he approaches the 10 pins the same way he has approached his musical career: with steely determination.

It was this determination that led him to walk away from the incredibly popular Cashtime Fam, an extension of the multi-award winning Teargas musical family, to become the first artist to sign with the Kalawa Jazmee Hip Hop imprint and release his debut album, Home Coming. See? AB Crazy has balls.

“Kalawa Jazmee wanted to me to be a part of the label,” he tells me after bowling, “but since I am a hip hop artist, they decided to add me to a new wing of the label: one that is dedicated to hip hop. That way, I can also feature on the label’s kwaito and house tracks (as he has already done with house newbies Uhuru).”

“Stoan recently released his album and I know he might have been the influence to actually start the hip hop side of the label, but I actually worked very closely with Oscar (Mdlongwa, founder of Kalawa), especially in terms of pushing me and getting my album out there.”

While reluctant to give details on the kind of contract Kalawa Jazmee Hip Hop offered him, AB Crazy – who was named Tumelo Dibakwane at birth and christened Abe (as in Abe Lincoln) by a teacher of the debating team – says the public should expect at least three albums from this new partnership.

But is Home Coming actually any good? If you’re fond of the testosterone-fuelled Cashtime Fam, you’ll be happy to know that this ex-member sticks with the braggadocio.

The I’ll-steal-your-girlfriend rhetoric is in abundance on the album from the rapper-producer who was behind the beats for the likes of Khuli Chana, HHP, Zeus and more.

There’s plenty of auto-tuned singing, but surprisingly, the 20-something also shares his family life and the tribulations that went into teaching him his most valuable lessons. Like when he raps about wanting to give his mother the world, but the founder of the Octave Couplet production team, Don Juan, didn’t pay him.

“When I was a part of Octave Couplet, we produced a lot of songs for rappers, even though some of those songs didn’t make it big,” he explains. “I was young and Don Juan was saying, ‘we’re going to do this and that’ and lying to my mom saying, ‘I’m going to push your son and he’s going to make it big’. He was getting paid, but wasn’t paying us, so I was just banking on money that was never there. (Producer) pH also left because of the same issues.”

But what’s probably more interesting to the public is why AB Crazy unceremoniously left Cashtime Fam: “While in Cashtime, I proposed to drop my own album under the Cashtime banner – just like members of YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires) also have solo careers – but they felt I wasn’t ready.”

“I had this plan before Cashtime and discussed it with them before I joined and always thought it wouldn’t be fair to leave Smashis and Kid X while our album was still hot, so I waited. But eventually I had to just believe in myself.”

Twitter spats and their beats may lead you to believe that there is bad blood between the former brothers, but KO of Teargas says: “AB Crazy is his own man and there was never any beef between us. We wish him nothing but the best with his career.”

Kalawa Jazmee has established many careers and pioneered entire genres, but it remains to be seen if it can turn AB Crazy into a commercial success.

For now, though, AB Crazy is content with establishing his own lane.


They kicked in the door with the birth of kwaito, pioneered Afropop and packed dance floors with the rise of Durban kwaito. Now Kalawa Jazmee have hopped on to hip hop. Last month, AB Crazy became the first artist to release an album under a subdivision called Kalawa Jazmee Hip Hop.

But how did it all come about? “You need to remember that we had Stoan (of Bongo Maffin) from around 1996,” says Kalawa Jazmee founding member Oscar Mdlongwa. “As he grew, he said why don’t we look at this hip hop thing? But we first had to get ready and even today we’re still learning.”

Producer and Kalawa Jazmee cofounder Mandla Spikiri (pictured) said Kalawa started with kwaito and Afropop. “But even Boom Shaka had elements of hip hop, so we started with hip hop a long time ago. We’re not just looking at hip hop – we also want to start a gospel label and spread our wings,” Spikiri said.

“Kalawa is like Coca-Cola – you can have Coke, but you also have to have Fanta and Sprite.”

But Coca-Cola products sell very well worldwide. Hip hop in South Africa, on the other hand, doesn’t…. So why invest in a genre that last saw gold album sales when Slikour was still Phantom Slik? “At the end of the day, Kalawa Jazmee is a business, and it doesn’t matter what brand of music you represent, just as long as you have potential.”

Oskido, as Mdlongwa is affectionately known, elaborates: “Hip hop is part of pop culture, so there is bound to be a demand. And just as no one really knew about kwaito in the beginning and we worked on it to make it sell, we’ll do the same for Kalawa Jazmee Hip Hop. “We know hip hop doesn’t sell, but we’ll make it happen by looking at revenue in terms of performance gigs.

“Look at Dr Malinga – he is one of the busiest performers in the country and he has no album out. The structure of the music industry has changed. It’s no longer just about album sales. We’ll look at radio and also see how brands are aligning themselves with hip hop.”

AB Crazy is no stranger to the world of hip hop, but this is his first outing as a solo artist.

“We decided to go with AB as the first guy we release because he is one of the most talented artists in the country,” says Oskido. “He writes, sings, raps, produces and can even engineer and he’s a rare find. He’s the total package.”