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The BBC's Jane Standley
"It's an exciting time for the band"
 real 56k

Monday, 20 November, 2000, 14:13 GMT
Hip hop 'comes home'
The popular Cape Flats hip hoppers Brasse Vannie Kaap
Brasse Vannie Kaap: bringing hip hop back to its roots?
by Jane Standley in Cape Town

It is an exciting time for the band Very Best Friends From Cape Town.

Out on a street corner, rapping for the cameras, these best selling local hip hoppers are posing for new publicity photographs.

Here they are better known in their Afrikaans-based Cape Flats dialect as Brasse Vannie Kaap.

African origins

Hip hop and rap music are popular all over the world. In most countries fans look towards the United States, where they believe the form originated.


Hip hop and rap originated here on this continent - we were always out there telling stories in rhyme form

Reddy D
Lead singer Brasse Vannie Kaaps
Now, some South African hip hoppers say hip hop and rap are in fact indigenous African rhythms, which have just returned home.

"Hip hop and rap originated here on this continent - we were always out there telling stories in rhyme form," says Brasse Vannie Kaaps's lead singer, Reddy D.

"It just took a 360 degree turn and came back home... We speak about our reality back here on the Cape Flats because that's where we come from".

American influences

The Cape Flats is a poor and windswept area on the far edge of Cape Town. During apartheid the authorities moved the mixed race people, known as coloured, out here.

Lead singer in Brasse Vannie Kaap
Reddy D: "We speak about our reality on the Cape Flats."

People here do not speak a true black African language. Many have traditionally looked to the United States for an identity. Despite the popularity of local hip hoppers, African-American musicians still hold sway.

So do the US-inner city inspired gangs.

If you are coloured, you have to belong to one to survive. It is then an easy route from there to drugs, gangland killings and prison.

Searching for an identity

The years of apartheid left the coloured community with an identity crisis.


Politically they identify more with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King than Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela

Jean-Noel Ntone
DJ and music critic

Pride in African roots-style hip hop by Cape Flats' coloured musicians is helping to fill the gap. But Cameroonian DJ and music critic, Jean-Noel Ntone believes there is a way to go before they find their true African roots.

"You can hear it in the music, you can see it at shows," he says, "they want to sound and look, like Tupac Shakur. Politically they identify more with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King than Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela."

Nevertheless, BVK and their African-ised hip hop aim to take the negatives out of the Cape Flats culture, but not leave their roots totally behind.

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19 Oct 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
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