The Mystery of Nasty C’s Clout Chasing

For a number of weeks, Nasty C, the golden boy of South African hip hop, has been living it up in the United States and meeting with some of the titans of the hip hop scene over there. He’s hung out with Snoop Dogg, Jeezy and T.I. His most recent album, Zulu Man With Some Power, released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t generated the desired amount of heat one would have expected. Perhaps, as with most things else, the pandemic is to be blamed for the inevitable slump.

A video surfaced recently on the web showing Nasty C hanging out with Snoop Dogg. Snoop seemed every bit the OG calming and majestically rolling his blunt, casually uttering nuggets of street lore at the head of the table, looking quite convincing as a street soldier turned paterfamilias. Nasty C, on the other hand, seemed every inch the shamelessly besotted stan, obviously fawning, only too glad to be in the presence of an undeniable master of street cred. The scene seemed a trifle condescending in relation to Nasty. What’s the point in chilling with hip hop OGs if it is unlikely to increase his shine or street legitimacy? Nasty C might think chilling with the likes of Snoop and Jeezy might augment his street profile by default but there are far more attractive ways to do so within the shores of South Africa which is replete with OGs of every shape, colour and stripe.

In only his native Durban, Nasty C has Zakwe, Tira, L’vovo, Duncan, Joecy, DJ Lag, the Distruction Boyz and so many others to enlighten him about what it means to have and keep the love of the streets. In this way, he would have a more organic growth path as an artist and as a credible representative of the RSA hip hop scene.

Nasty C’s clout chasing in the US without offering their markets anything authentically South African, let alone African for that matter, seems forced, contrived and definitely inauthentic, something one could only expect from some shady industry plant.

Ricky Rick mentioned the disillusionment he faced when he went to the US rapping a Yankie wannabe. He was quickly reminded that there was nothing original about what he was offering. Roundly embarrassed, he did a swift re-think and reverted to ways and things authentically South African. Imagine the shame of having outsiders train about the importance of being yourself.

Nhlamulo Baloyi aka Nota, a bugbear of the RSA music scene, wildly decried the growing inauthenticity of Nasty C culturally speaking. On the other hand, Focalistic is fast becoming an unassailable paragon of RSA cultural authenticity. His entire being screams, “I am from ekasi, I love and represent ekasi culture in thought, word and deed”. And for his unequivocal badge of representation he is being recognised as a believable face of ekasi lifestyle that had to be taken seriously. Davido, the Nigerian Afrobeats megastar quickly tapped Focalistic for an equally delectable re-mix of his continental hit, “Ke star”, a song that has had an impact all over Southern Africa as well as Tanzania, Ghana and other African countries. Focalistic has visited many African countries disseminating the warmth and sincerity of his special blend of ekasi affection.

In embracing the amapiano sound, Focalistic was able to discover an authentically Mzansi ingredient that jazzed up the entire continent, a continent, need one add, of more than a billion grooving souls.

Meanwhile, Nasty C is preoccupied with wooing the US with its population of forty one million black Americans. He’s embarking on this unlikely mission by stating unequivocally, “look I am just like you, I talk like you, I sound like you and I might as well be you”. But Americans can be trusted to retort, “don’t be like us, be yourself, is this too much to ask?” Even more bewildering is Nasty C’s recent bout of clout chasing when he called Eminem out as a way of affirming that there were departments of rap in which he was superior. Of course, Eminem didn’t give him the time of day. No artist of his stature ought to grant that kind of chance to such a cheap clout chaser.

A-Reece another RSA hip hop mainstay is embarking on the Nasty C route. Whereas the latter has the global advertising muscle and machine of Def Jam behind him, A-Reece is towing the independent route relying largely on his own undoubtedly meagre resources. The internet is abuzz when his name gets mentioned in some European or American music mag as if that was a solid accomplishment in and of itself. If he truly wants to conquer foreign markets, he would have to endure an endless barrage of gruelling tours trying to win over a scary list of sceptical record label execs. This is usually what it takes to subdue those shifty and unpredictable foreign markets. Almost like a game of Russian roulette you could say. A-Reece largely remains in his bedroom and engages in clout chasing as a remote entity.

On this score, Nasty C is at least better off as he is able to get a seat at Snoop’s table even if all he has to do is remain quiet and smile sheepishly. Meanwhile, back at home in RSA, his more knowledgeable fans would be scratching their heads thinking, “are we not enough for you?” Similarly, this question may be posed to him, “is this really all about securing the bag, or is there something deeper at work here?” Unquestionably, we’d have to get into Nasty C’s roving head to find that out.

*Sanya Osha is the author of several books including Postethnophilosophy (2011) and Dust, Spittle and Wind (2011), An Underground Colony of Summer Bees (2012) and On a Weather-beaten Couch (2015) among other publications. He works at the Institute for Humanities, (HUMA), the University of Cape Town, South Africa.