Dr. Sipho Sithole (@DrSiphoSithole) is a Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (University of Johannesburg) and holds a PhD in Anthropology, a B.Sc in Political Science and International Relations, and an M. Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Dr. Sithole’s research revolves around language identity, culture, migration, and integration. Sithole has a long career in hip hop & is the founder and owner of an important and multi-award-winning music production house, Native Rhythms Productions, & Native Rhythms Records.
“You must never romanticize poverty”Sipho Sithole
Sithole has is credited for helping mainstream hip-hop in South Africa when he signed Skwatta Kamp in 2003, the first group to achieve platinum sales. He held what he says is the 1st African hip hop summit in 2005 He is also a producer, winning awards for his production work on Thandiswa Mazwai’s debut album, Zabalaza (2004).
In this interview, he talks about his involvement in the growing hip hop scene in South Africa in the early 2000s. It was a time when kwaito’s mainstream popularity was declining, and Sipho Sithole talks about the decision to begin working with hip hop artists. He also talks about the role of the township in producing and shaping the South African hip hop scene, as well as social consciousness.
“In South Africa, you may be the best rapper & you may have the best rap album, but if your song cannot be understood and played in the village, similar to the way it would be played in the township or in the city, it’s just a good hood hip hop song.”Sipho Sithole
Interview in Audio
Interview in Video
In part 2 of this interview, we delve into a discussion of race and identity in South African hip hop, and the spaces within hip hop that Black and Coloured South Africans occupy.