Jitsenic. It’s not a complex combustible chemical resulting from a scientific experiment but rather a musical experiment with the aim of creating a hybrid from the musical gems of the past and those of today.

Jitsenic is a relatively new collaboration between the darlings of the Cape Town Afrikaans hip hop scene, Quinton “Jitsvinger” Goliath and producer Gary “Arsenic” Erfort.

The pair first started performing live together in May and reckon they are finally ready to bring their unique blend of hip hop-based, jazz-inspired music to the greater public when they perform at the District Six Museum on Friday.

As expected, the duo, who are individual powerhouses in their own right, delve into hip hop to deliver Jitsenic’s music. However, they also reach beyond what they are familiar with.

“It’s us paying a compliment or homage to Cape Coloured Jazz,” Jitsvinger says, “and just giving it our own vibe. Nowadays, kids don’t get to discover these parts of their contemporary music history. These artists of so long ago are our national treasures.”

He and Arsenic share the same view and it’s with this in mind that they decided to collaborate. Jitsvinger lets me know that this weekend’s gig is a special one for them.

“Arsenic and I discovered on stage what elements we needed to make sound better,” Jitsvinger tells me. “So this upcoming event kind of feels like our make it or break it gig.”

The meeting of the two minds started after Arsenic’s musical reputation for taking hip hop seriously and career direction piqued Jitsvinger’s interest. “I always heard about him as someone who takes hip hop seriously,” Jitsvinger shares. “You can’t make music and not have a place where you see yourself in five years’ time or whatever.”

“Arsenic dedicated his time to collaborate with the likes of Writers Block and Mingus, so when I went into the studio with him I only wanted to record some new stuff. This collaboration came about from a wish I had to share ideas with someone. I did this knowing that ideas are things you have to keep closely guarded to your chest because sometimes people look at you closely and try to determine what’s next in terms of the hip hop sound by looking at you.”

“I couldn’t just give my ideas to anyone. So Arsenic and I developed this trust. Plus, I saw that he collects vinyls – ones like the hard-to-find Abdullah Ibrahim vinyls – so without him knowing, he was also planting these seeds in my mind. So I told him I know he has an MPC and is a producer, but would he be interested in taking that to the stage. He was open to it and that was inspiring to me because he was willing to step out of his comfort zone.”

Arsenic’s willingness allowed this rapper a chance to also step out of his box and start to do things like take playing guitar seriously and Jitsvinger’s new acquired skill “allow Arsenic to go deeper when thinking about the rhythms.”

Having been the only rap-based duo to play at Tagore’s in Woodstock – a venue that is traditionally known as a jazz spot – Jitsenic know they are on to something. This means that in the near future, the pair will definitely try to take the live experience to people who don’t have an opportunity to see them perform.

“There’s definitely a release on its way,” shares Jitsvinger. “We’ll have to see if it works for a CD or DVD.” For now though, you can see the real thing on Friday night.

This article appeared in Tonight on 25 July 2012.