The music industry is one of the most difficult industries to break into especially if you don’t have a team of people working behind the scenes and making things happen.
South African Hip Hop was ignored for the longest time by the public because there was a perception that local rappers were trying too hard to emulate American rappers.
So in the process labels refrained from signing rappers because that local market was deemed unprofitable.
If you wanted to be a successful Hip Hop artist in South Africa at the time, the odds were heavily against you. However, Buttabing Entertainment which was once the home of Skwatta Kamp and Kwesta, believed there was a market for local Hip Hop and pressed on in spite of these challenges.
How Buttabing Entertainment Started
Buttabing Entertainment was officially founded in 2002 by Siyabonga “Slikour” Metane and Legohang “Shugasmakx” Mothibe. But before Buttabing Entertainment (the label) there was Skwatta Kamp.
Skwatta Kamp is (still exists) a South African Hip Hop crew comprising of Slikour, Nemza, Bozza, Nish, Shugasmakx, Flabba (now late) and Infa Dizzle (recently left the group).
The group was formed in the late 90s but was not signed or affiliated to any record label during those early days. So instead of waiting for the labels to push their music, they decided to do it themselves.
The group founding member Siyabonga Metane (Slikour) has mentioned several times in most television interviews on how they were literally forced to put together their own makeshift recording studio in order to create their own products.
Skwatta Kamp kept the momentum going by selling their cassettes independently in the streets. But they later realised that in order to create a real business from their passion, they needed to formalise their set up.
And that’s when Buttabing was born.
Khut En Joyn by Skwatta Kamp was the first official LP released under the newly-formed Buttabing Entertainment.
That album was recorded, promoted, marketed and distributed successfully by the team and that’s when everyone started to pay attention to SA Hip Hop. And suddenly the record labels wanted a piece of the action.
Don’t wait for opportunities
As much as this might sound like a cliché but you have to believe in yourself and in what you’re doing.
In this day and age and with so much music on the internet it is not enough to release music randomly (one song or one EP a year) on Soundcloud and rely on a hope and pray strategy.
But you should develop the right work ethic and release music in a timely fashion.
Digital distribution has allowed the modern-day artist to release and sell your music on a regular basis. And it doesn’t matter whether this is done on a weekly or monthly schedule but the platform is there to be exploited.
There is no need to wait for a label to sign you and you shouldn’t email or call the labels to enquire about a record deal.
In most cases, it doesn’t work. Instead, release as much music as you possibly can or until you get tired of it. That’s how you will build a name and buzz for yourself.
Help others succeed
By 2005 Buttabing Entertainment was one of the most prominent labels in SA Hip Hop. And after the Gallo Records Licensing deal and successful Skwatta Kamp follow up albums Mkhukhu Funkshen (2003) and Washumkhukhu (2004), Slikour decided to focus on developing other artists.
A virtually unknown vernacular rapper by the name of Siyabulela Nozewu but better known as My Man was one of the first artists to be signed to the label (outside of Skwatta Kamp).
His debut album titled Imene Mene was well received by music insiders but unfortunately, his stay at Buttabing Entertainment was cut short after clashing with management and he quickly vanished into thin air.
Slikour’s first two solo albums, Ventilation Mixtape Volume One and Two also helped the local movement because he featured unknown but talented artists at the time such as RJ Benjamin, Kwesta, Blaklez just to name a few.
Kwesta in particular who is now a superstar was signed and developed by Buttabing Entertainment from 2007 but his debut album (Special Rekwest) only came out in 2010.
Many people might not be aware that DJ Naves (of Kings of Weekend fame with DJ SPHEctacula) was mentored and managed by the label in the early stages of his career.
I wouldn’t be lying if I said that Buttabing and Skwatta Kamp helped transform SA Hip Hop into what it is today.
Before the Buttabing days, SA Hip Hop was a pariah in the South African music industry and nobody (the labels) wanted to touch it.
But Buttabing Entertainment suddenly gave aspiring rappers and music entrepreneurs hope that it was possible to make a living out of Hip Hop in South Africa.
I’m not a spokesperson for Buttabing Entertainment nor am I a shareholder but credit has to be given where it’s due.
These guys showed us the power of team work and what can happen if people can unite and work together for one common cause.
And Hip Hop was bigger than all them and in the end they managed to achieve their main objective and today local Hip Hop is doing well!