Following the 11th edition of Jozi’s Back To The City Festival last Thursday, we caught up with Cape Town hip-hop wordsmith Uno July in The Booth. The rapper, whose career spans over 13 years, hails from Gugulethu, where he joined with his original crew Ill Skillz. They were one of the most successful modern rap groups in Cape Town, with tours to Europe and two great albums – Off The Radar (2009) and Notes From The Native Yards (2013). They performed at prestigious events such as Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Cape Town Electronic Music Festival and Back To The City, and have shared stages with the likes of Yasiin Bey, Kendrick Lamar, and Slum Village.
In 2014, Uno decided he wanted to try out his hand on a solo project, releasing his debut EP, Best Kept Secret to widespread acclaim. But it was upon the release of the video for the stellar track ‘Skelem’, that Uno truly announced his presence as a force in the South African hip-hop scene. He followed this up with the 2016 release of a 21-track album called Uno ‘n Only, as well as an even more recent 13-track LP recorded at Red Bull Studios called Zero Hour Zone.
Armed with what is clearly a focused and uncompromising work ethic, Uno July is set to continue forging his exciting and promising path in the country’s hip-hop landscape.
We all want to know exactly what our favourite musicians are bumping to get a sense of where the magic (partly) comes from. The Booth is a taste of all that. This edition investigates Uno July’s playlist, sharing 5 tracks that he’s into, in no particular order:
Mick Jenkins ft. BadBadNotGood – ‘Drowning’
Without even mainstream popular influence, Mick Jenkins’ range between vocal and rapping ability proves that he’s as versatile as they come. On this song he blends over BadBadNotGood’s well-instrumented, warm and esoteric production style. I enjoy the structure from its build-up to its climax, the lyricism and colours within the song.
Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge (Nx Worries) – ‘Best One’
I mean, undoubtedly Anderson .Paak is a rare gift of our current generation. Like he is authentically dope. You can feel his pains and struggles in his voice, you can feel his passion for the music, and the conviction if I may add. Knxwledge also happens to be one of my favorite producers at the moment. He’s production style resonates a lot with the soulfulness taste I enjoy in music and you can definitely tell that he’s properly from the J-Dilla and Madlib school hence he is a Stonesthrow Records artists. Those cats were also my main influences in music.
Childish Gambino – ‘Stand Tall’
I literally have no words for this one – just do yourself a favour and go listen to this one.
Thundercat – ‘Lava Lamp’
Often I surprise people when it comes to my versatile taste in music. Needless to say much about this song but I’m just outright biased because he’s one of my favourite artists. Somehow this track standouts for me on his new Drunk LP.
Kendrick Lamar – ‘Fear.’
Personally this is my ode to soul searching. Kendrick masterfully broke down his volatile thoughts and his vulnerabilities. It’s a journey-filled trajectory between his childhood experiences up until who he became eventually. In this aspect and in many ways as a matter of fact I’ve always identified myself within Kendrick’s narrative and inclinations.
[Editor’s Note: Pesky restrictions mean that Kendrick’s album has been pulled off both YouTube and Soundcloud in South Africa. And since we don’t have Spotify here either, we’ll just have to hunt for this one on the web / Apple Music.]
Read our full feature on Uno from April last year, and stream his most recent EP below: