With the #NgudTour in full swing, Kwesta found some time to speak to Helen Herimbi about the smash hit, the spotlight and being Senzo.

‘No one knows me in these parts,” he sets his green bottle beer down on the table, “that’s why I wanted to meet you here.” Kwesta, whose real name is Senzo Vilakazi, is certain that people don’t recognise him and his blonde spiky do in Greenside.

But once we’re done with the interview, there is a line of people waiting to take a picture with him snaking out the door of the establishment where we met. That’s no doubt, due to the fact that this 20-something rapper has risen to popularity with his first album, Special Rekwest (2010) and DAKAR (2013).

But now, with the February release of his third album, DAKAR II, staying put at the number one spot on iTunes and the second single, Ngud, soaring to number one on radio and TV chart shows, Kwesta can kiss anonymity goodbye. Ngud, which is ’hood slang for a quart of beer, features Cassper Nyovest and is, sonically, a nod to the Joakim remix of Camino Del Sol’s Antena – a house song.

“(DJ) Maphorisa literally replayed the whole thing,” Kwesta tells me, “It’s taken from a house song but replayed and redone. I started with [the first single] Nomayini, which was a slow-burner but it burned and made an impact. With the first couple of singles, I wanted to represent the ’hood more than anything.”

DAKAR II is a double-disc offering that is a more layered body of work than his previous albums. It was recorded at Sony Studios, Psyfo’s studio and Maphorisa’s Uhuru studio.

An acronym for “Da King of African Rap”, on this album Kwesta presents a socially conscious side on songs like Preach and Light. He also takes us to his ’hood, Katlehong, on K1 God and GGG.

And while expected collaborations include Kokotela with Kid X and Yanga, the second disc surprisingly features the likes of Busiswa, Bucie, Okmalumkoolkat, AKA and more. Plus, on Mayibabo, he has a Bollywood-style chorus in Xhosa and DJ Bucks rapping!

“I met this girl who just started doing that sound in Xhosa,” he smiles, “It’s like a party trick. I’d phoned Okmalumkoolkat to do the joint and Bucks wasn’t supposed to be on that joint. I left. When I came back, Bucks was on the second verse.

“He told me he was just playing around and if I didn’t like the verse, we could just delete it. Even before I heard it I was already thinking: ‘How will I tell him I don’t like his verse?’ But I heard it and I was like, wow, who wrote it. He said he did. And I said: ‘You rap?’ He said: ‘I make music.’ I thought it was dope, period. Not just for a guy who doesn’t rap.”

The album also features a cute ode to his baby daughter. There, he sing-raps about her birth saving his life. I ask him to elaborate. “Before Khai, I’d just gotten into this fame. Like, really being noticed and being seen. It excited me. I wanted in so I was playing along with it. Doing s*** like not coming home. Sleeping at some girl’s house or at one of my boys’ house. I was caught up in that rapper s***. That thing never ends well.

“Now it’s rapper s*** but it used to be kwaito s*** before and we’ve seen how that ends,” he continues, “It ends with you down-and-out without money because you worked less and partied more or you’re sick with some disease. When I knew my girlfriend was pregnant, a switch flicked and I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. When you know you have another life to take care of for the rest of yours, that matters more. That’s what I mean when I say she saved my life. Because I didn’t know where it was going. I had no direction. I was high on the drug of fame and as soon as Khai came, I sobered up.”

It may seem trendy for artists to make a song about their personal lives and then turn around and seek privacy from the public but Kwesta is not following that. “What I’m trying to do with everything is keeping myself as one person so I don’t have to log off as Kwesta and then be Senzo,” he tells me.

Even with Keep Walking featuring CrashCarBurn off his previous album, Kwesta wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable about expressing what he’d been through.

“I mentioned my mother’s divorce [in the song],” Kwesta says, “What it was like for us growing up and the things she had to give up. When I spoke to her about it, she kind of felt her privacy was violated. But I felt like unfortunately, your story is my story. I cannot tell my story without mentioning these things.

“That’s when I knew that I wanted to merge the two. I don’t want to play Kwesta or play Senzo. They both drink Heinekens. I don’t drink it at home and then go to the club and pop Moët.” His audience seems to appreciate that. Even the one he’s trying to cultivate.

I hung out with the rapper and his crew as they campaigned for a Metro FM Award win for Nomayini at high schools. He performed in the blazing sun, at one school after another and seemed happier on those makeshift stages than I’d seen him in a suburban club. Sitting topless and dripping sweat in the passenger’s seat of a snazzy BMW, he told me back then that DAKAR II was him at his most naked.

Back in Greenside, after having come home from the awards empty-handed, Kwesta says: “The campaign came with things I didn’t expect – like really connecting with people who can’t even get into the clubs. Did I want to win the award? Yes, from the bottom of my heart. But I’m not angry that I didn’t. I’m not going to stop making this music.”