L-Tido may not be a gambler, but with his debut solo album, he is feeling lucky. Helen Herimbi spoke to the rapper.

South African rap artist L-Tido is the poster child for commercial hip hop. But this is not something he condones, or cares about.

With his debut album, All Or Nothing, now on music store shelves, L-Tido has to bear the cross for rappers who choose riches and Ray-Bans at night over the kind of rap radio refuses to play – and we’re not talking about Locnville. This means the Alexandra-raised rapper has the odds stacked against him, but he takes it all in his stride.

“You see,” he starts, “the problem is that South Africa is the only country where you have such a thing as a ‘swagger’ rapper.”

He sounds exasperated.

“In our country we worry about the little or stupid things in hip hop. I’d like to think there is more to me than that. All you have to do is pick up my album. In fact, I don’t recall saying the word ‘swagger’ on my whole album.”

But what about the idea that he and other “braggadocious” rappers dwell too much on the material things?

He thinks for a moment: “Look, I take care of myself,” he says. “If artists who are dirty have a problem with that, then that is their problem.”

L-Tido, who is actually a jovial, jest-loving oke whose TV-watching guilty pleasure is Jersey Shore, makes no apologies for who he is. He reveals, without haste, that while he was born Thato Madonsela, his moniker comes from combining his first name and the one he never uses, Lloyd. I know what you’re thinking and so does L-Tido.

Lloyd? Yes, Lloyd.

He lets out a belly laugh after his confession.

L-Tido laughs easily and quickly, hardly the picture of megalomania that is often displayed through lyrics like “you bunch of nobodys, I’m globally known.”

As the title of his album suggests, the stakes are high, but L-Tido is determined to take his turn at the slot machine.

He explains: “I wouldn’t say I’m a gambler as I don’t frequent casinos, but I took a gamble with my career.

“I gave up my nine-to-five job to fully concentrate on my music way before anything was popping off.”

He rose to fame as a part of Glitz Gang, a group of rappers who spit about shine so much you’d think they had Swarovsky smiles. He then made headlines when he was involved in a spat with rapper AKA.

Things got so hectic L-Tido turned down features on songs with hip hop heavyweights such as Tumi Molekane and Slikour’s Dubula Remix if AKA was to be featured on the same track. He explains: “Tumi wanted me on a track that would feature PRO and AKA and I turned it down because we were having that conflict.

“But I’ve always believed other people’s songs won’t further my career. I have to put myself on.”

And in a manner of speaking, he did. As he promised Tumi, L-Tido got in touch with Tumi and the Volume’s frontman when he was ready and they made a song called Success for L-Tido’s album.

The beef with IV League’s AKA was soon squashed and they may jump on to a track together one day.

From this phase, L-Tido learned that “picking up the phone and actually talking to the person you have an issue with can actually resolve things better than putting things out on a public platform”.